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Preview: PlayStation Home pg2

David Craddock

Up next was the Game Space, a sprawling rec hall with pool tables, a bowling alley, and arcade games tucked away in a side area. Flashing screens and bleep-bloop sound effects washed over us like a snake charmer's song, giving an amused Jack no choice but to show off the hole-in-the-wall throwback to the glory days of the 1980s. Original content will comprise arcade games in Home, though we can't help wondering if PSN demos might make their way into the cabinets eventually, which would make for a fun way to experience new software.

Jack and the Home crew anticipate that Game Spaces will become crowded, which will provide a din of merriment that will make many smile, yet cause agitation in those waiting in queues for their turn at pool tables or video games. The solution: to create instances when a space reaches its capacity. Players intent on meeting up with friends should coordinate meetings ahead of time via PSN messaging. For impromptu gatherings, players can send invites that will transport friends immediately to their current Game Space.

Tuckered out from our socializing, Jack again called forth his PSP navigation system and took us to his apartment. Jack's pad obviously isn't used too often: bare hardwood floor, three white sofas. Two windows were all that coated Jack's spars walls, though the large ovular skylight was impressive.

Stepping out onto his balcony, Jack gifted us with a view that he claimed was only possible on the PS3's hardware. The sea spread out before us like an undulating carpet of blue and green. Dozens of boats were tied to a dock that caressed the sea like a wooden finger. Seagulls frolicked along a sandy path bordered by rocks.

Would every apartment have such scenery? Perhaps, but even better views might be had by those who choose to purchase premium homes and apartments, which can be acquired at realtor stores located within Home's shopping mall, along with hundreds of other gadgets and knickknacks. Whether your default apartment or a private vista, all of your living spaces will be yours and yours alone. Other players will only be able to visit with an explicit invite from you, so if you have something private to discuss with a friend but don't want anyone overhearing your words, simply invite them back to your place to conduct the discussion.

Conceding that his apartment was indeed a colossal bore, Jack opened his virtual guide and showed us a plethora of shopping options: wallpaper, tables, chairs, accessories... all of those and more are available in both free and purchasable variations, and can be used to decorate one's apartment exactly to one's liking via color schemes, exact placement, and other customization options. A haphazard stack of benches shoved against one wall was, according to Jack, his attempt to build a set of bleachers, which he claimed one beta tester had done to great success.

Unleashing your inner home decorating beast and playing a rousing game of bowling is fun, sure, but what about the real games? Enter the game launcher, a tool that allows one boot up a game directly from within Home. Using the copy of Warhawk currently residing in his PS3 as an example, Jack invoked the launcher and, without launching the game, tweaked all available Warhawk options.

Post-customization, Jack selected Create, which prompted a bubble advertising his desire to play Warhawk to appear above his head. Any interested players can simply walk up to Jack, press X, take a gander at his configuration, and press another button when they're ready to play. Once Jack has assembled a party to his liking, he can launch the game, play, and then return Home.

Our last stop was a tavern decorated in a jungle theme. Sunlight seeped from cracks in the wooden walls. A bar lined with red-cushioned stools occupied a far corner, and a jukebox hummed quietly in the back of the room. Where were we? Looking around revealed a poster of Drake, titular protagonist of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, hanging over the bar. This, Jack said, was a custom game space, which could potentially exist for every available PS3 game. Custom game spaces exist for people interested in a particular game to meet, hang out, discuss the game, and explore secrets, such as three doors in the tavern that couldn't be opened without special codes.

Even more than providing a virtual social area with pool, bowling, and apartments, Jack closed our meeting by asserting Home's primary function: to extend a game beyond the edge of its optical disc. Will the development team be successful in this ambitious goal? We'll find out when the free-of-charge PlayStation Home releases in the fourth quarter of 2008.


Browse PS3 Fanboy's PlayStation Home galleries:


Gallery: Home 'Virtual Events' Space | 7 Photos

Gallery: Home - Features | 6 Photos

Gallery: Home - Living | 6 Photos

Gallery: Home - Public Areas | 14 Photos

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