Friday, December 12, 2008

Home Beta Review

It sucks.

I suppose some of you might want more info than that. Honestly, I think Tycho at Penny Arcade summed it up way better than I ever could. But I guess you don't come to "Mike Reviews Life" looking for Mike's reviews, so here goes.

Basically, you start by creating your avatar. From the get-go, you have far fewer choices than any other game with a create-a-character, or indeed even than the New Xbox Experience (which I haven't reviewed because I'm still making my mind up about it). You have maybe five or six different options for your top, your pants, and your shoes, and handful of haircuts, and a handful of mustaches. No beards or goatees, even though the icon for facial hair is a goatee. Also, while they give you plenty of options for tweaking the size and shape of your head, no matter what you do you're going to look creepy.

After that, you're dumped into your apartment. Since your avatar doesn't eat, sleep, or shit, your apartment lacks any bedrooms, bathrooms, or a kitchen. It's basically a long white living room with white sofas, white footstools, white Home-logo shaped lamps, white kitchen chairs (despite the lack of a kitchen), and a white table. You can sit on the furniture and watch your avatar stare woodenly ahead, or you can step out onto the balcony. There, you'll find the scenic view of the most crowded harbor ever, where the waves look odd because they move, but only sorta.

When you're tired of looking at your barren apartment, you can go to another area. Rather than do this seamlessly, as most MMOs do, you select the zone you want to go to from the world map. What's more, you have to download it first. After waiting several minutes for it download, I went to Home's central communal area. There, you'll see a few solid avatars, a ton of ghostly forms darting about, a fountain game that you can't play because it's full, a cinema that you can't enter, an bowling alley, and a mall.

At the bowling alley, Sony would like you to think that you can shoot some pool, or go bowling. In reality, like the fountain, the tables and the lanes will be full.

The mall is worse. The reason why Sony gave you so few options when you were creating your avatar is because they want you to go to the mall. There, you can buy clothes for you avatar and stuff for your apartment... with real money. That's right, you spend real money to decorate your avatar and your avatar's living space in a game where you can't do much more than chat with friends you don't have because they're all on Xbox Live instead, or wait in line to play games. Games that you'll never actually play.

Now, the the NXE's avatars don't do much more than wave when your friends are online or sleep when they're not, but they're cute and they exist in a sort of hub space where you can see them just by turning your Xbox on. Home, though, is completely useless. Your Home avatar doesn't represent you to anyone except another poor soul playing Home. You can (and should) go about your PS3 business without ever going into Home. If you do try Home, just remember that most of the time playing it will either be downloading new areas or avoiding spending real money. And that's time you can never have back.

Final Score: F-

1 comment:

Matt said...

I totally agree with you, although I would have added the wide variety of errors I encountered while trying to go "home". Home just feels shallow, useless, and un-necessary. I really wish there was an option to light my apartment up in flames as I left, because I severly doubt that I will be going back any time soon.