Gaming Thoughts... 9/18/11 - Playstation Home

So, after the PSN was down earlier this year, they came back with their Welcome Back program. Part of that program included lots of virtual items for the Playstation Home. My youngest enjoys walking around and socializing on Home, but I had only used it a handful of times in the past. I figured this would serve as a great project for the blog, just to see what I thought now. Unfortunately, there were issues that have derailed this little project:

- Sony has announced they are completely redoing Playstation Home. As a result, most of this could well be null and voice sooner than later

- Network disconnects and errors drove me absolutely nuts. I was getting disconnected dozens of times a night over a 2 week period. Time of day, day of the week - none of it seemed to help, and based on what I was seeing in the forums, this was hardly a problem isolated to me. Looks like a huge failing of the PSN

- Download problems. I would download stacks of rooms while doing something else, then come back and use them briefly. Then I would try to access the rooms later, and the downloaded room would then need to be downloaded once again. Did this across 3 different PS3 systems, finally gave up about 1/3 of the way through the project after finding myself going through the process over and over again.

Basic thoughts before I get into the breakdown:

There is something cool to the idea, but it feels a bit sparse in places. Some of the rooms were clearly meant to be used for a short time only and visiting them now well after that peak intended period is creepy - almost empty. The connectivity issues and download problems were a definitely deal-breaker for me. I spent at least a dozen hours just trying to get things set up and used, and continually ran into issues with stability that made me give up on the process. Here's hoping that the revamp is handled better. Now, a more detailed breakdown of the rooms I was able to visit:

Xi Museum - At first it looks like there is a lot going on, but it looks like whatever events used to take place there are largely closed down now. There was an interesting sort of word/text adventure game that I spent a few minutes on, but it was a lot of load times for very little actual content

WipEout Museam - There's a dance floor with music and some nifty lighting effects. My youngest seemed to dig the techno beats. The environment actually looks cool, but it's very empty in terms of people in there. Kind of a nifty 2-d racing game you can play in it.

TEKKEN 6 Mishima Zaibatsu - Recreation Floor - there's a big screen video running something in the background and some 'arcade' machines you can play Tekken 6 on - if you happen to own it and have it loaded in. Seems like some sort of a really lightweight fighting game would be better served here. You can get a couple of avatar items if you hunt around the weight room in it, but I was literally the only person in there my entire stay

Uncharted: Sully's Bar - Visually, one of the more interesting rooms. There's a Smuggler's Den attached and at two points you can view a slide show of artifacts which is perfectly in-theme with the game, if a bit boring. There's a few interactive items to look at, including a simple, pixelated but kind of neat platforming/puzzling game called Mercenary Madness

S.I.N's Secreate Base from Street Fighter IV - there is a big screen with a trailer of the game running in the background and... really little else to interact with. Looks like there might be a game station set up like the Tekken one where you'd need a disc, but all it did was slap 'novice' over my head while I was in there. Not much else to do really, though it looked neat for fans of the game, such as myself.

SOCOM: Tactical Operations Center - Visually this was somewhat interesting - the environament looked like something out of a military video game, but other than a scoreboard for sOCOM players and a TOC terminal for lookinng at some 'reports' - there was nothing to do but sit in one of a couple of dozen seats. There were a few people wandering around - but not many. It connects to SOCOM: Opposing Force.

SOCOM: Opposing Force - It's a bit more active than the above. There's a gun stripping mini game with scoreboard that uses the two analog sticks nicely. There's also a golden AK 47 game where you have to find 7 peices to assemble it. That said, it seems buggy to me. I disconnected a LOT when trying to use Home, but so far the majority happened when either a) I was downloading this section or b) playing in it. I got kicked 7 times in about 25 minutes before I called it good. Pity since I never got to finish the AK 47 game because every time I got kicked it seemed to start me over.

Sodium 2 - Fairly active little place and while there's not a ton of detail in the distant environment, it has a nice overall sci-fi appearance. There's some multiplayer game console that kept telling me it was not available. I did find something else called Salt Shooter Game - but once I was there, well - there was no one else there and it did not appear to be doing anything. The area looked cool - sort of reminded me of a stage from Mass Effect, but whatever the game was supposed to be? It didn't seem to be working.

Sodium Hub - serves as sort of a connection place for Sodium 2 and the Salt Shooter Game. It looks like there's a few odds and ends that tie in here - for example Salt Shooter can be played... if you buy a virtual item. Looks like that is the case for a few things too, like Scorpio's. There's a few 'free' mini games and items available in here though - reading the info kiosk/screen helps. There's a fairly large twitter integrated board as well. You can step on robotic scorpions for credits, and there's Sodium Training which you can download that lets you get a taste of the action. It actually isn't too bad. I didn't feel like spending money on a flight jacket so I could play, but it was an okay little hover car/shooter game that killed a few minutes. So far, the most active 'area' I've seen in terms of players and content.

Slap Happy Sam's Stage Show - Can't do much with it - you have to buy a $2.50 music box to play. There's really nothing else to do in this big top tent

SIREN Lounge - Dark and creepy - much like the game is supposed to be. There's a video screen playing with a trailer of sorts that looks decent. Pretty atmospheric, but not much happening on the ouside. There's a building called Ward of Despair you can download. In the Ward the dark atmosphere is maintained as you are given a flashlight of sorts to hunt around in the darkness. Immediately you see some tv screens that were downloading media for what seemed like a very long time. It gives the directions on a simple but pretty cool horror survival mini game where you need to dart around a small building avoiding ghostly creatures. The controls sort of stink and the camear angle got me killed the first two times, but it was a neat little trip. This was a somewhat densly populated little area.

The SingStar Rooms - Basically a large dance club. Nifty look to it, a large screen that pumps out music when you're close to it and a dance floor. There's some backroom area that I always get a download error from. Not much to it beyond that. Maybe 2 dozen people or so in it at the time.

Resistance Station - Just would not load up for me the first 4 or 5 times I tried. X80710D23 error - this was the end of the project for me.
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