Several weeks ago my email's inbox was greeted with a message saying (in the fewest words possible), "Welcome, you have been invited to the Playstation Home beta." I can tell you a feeling of contempt washed over my face, as I had not signed up for any inclusion process or beta-code giveaway. So I said to myself, "Well, I guess I should be a good little beta tester and find as many bugs and/or glitches as I can so the masses won't be annoyed at launch day."
Booting up Home was a bit of an arduous process yesterday, with many updates and re-downloads souring the experience. The avatar I had made before barely resembled me, mostly because I could tell any difference when I moved the face editor's sliders around. You're not given a lot of clothing to start with, just a few outfits and head accessories. Your living space is also very sparse, with only some white chairs and a sofa to decorate your swanky pad. Once your ready to leave your oceanside nest, be prepared to be greeted by many download/loading screens and prompts. These seems to happen whenever you enter a new area, but thankfully you can download these while you walk around in previously explored zones.
Downloading really seems to be a big krutch in Home at the moment, but that is natural considering the influx of new players. Waiting several minutes for the Theatre's entertainment to download was a very comical experience though, if only because of the commentary by my fellow audience members. "This is bullshit," one infuriated onlooker shouted through his grainy microphone, as several others began yelling at him to STFU. Once the video finally finished buffering I was surprised to find that instead of some Sony released movie or video, I was bombared with ads about the clip-on keyboard that was just released. Oh, how wonderful. So with that pleasant experience out of the way, I decided to head over to the mall to see what goods were available for purchase. The prices in the mall were reasonable, with most items ranging from fifty cent to one dollar, but as I continued with my shopping trip I realized something about myself: I refuse to pay for pointless, virtual goods. Before I exited the mall I noticed there was one avatar commenting on another's appearance. This went along the lines of "Damn, you looks fine...."
After browsing through the Home stores I decided to hit up the local arcade/entertainment-type place to see what fun could be had. Outside of the arcade was game where miniature spaceships pop bubbles for points, this by far was the most fun I had had in Home so far. Once inside the arcade things seemed to settle back into their usual internet ways. High pitched, horrible sounding microphones filled my speakers as memes were said aloud frequently and without justification. I was able to try a few arcade games, which while amusing few a few seconds, became very dull after several playthroughs. I was also able to participate in a game of bowling, which was interrupted by a player named GRAYFOX10, who decided to dance in our lane (much to my amusement). Afterward I tried a few of the sponsored areas, became even more bored and frustrated, and finally decided to sign off.
Truly Home, as it is now, is a pointless experience. Perhaps once more games become integrated and the space given to them is used to a better result, Home may be a worthy substitute to the XMB, but at the moment it feels like nothing more than another virtual chatroom. And if you consider the average experience you have online, that might not be a good thing.