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Coming Back Home – Part 2

Posted by Bazaboy On April - 26 - 2010

Bazaboy is back, this time investigating some of the more recent additions to PlayStation Home.

 
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The previous article sums up the changes in the original main areas that were included on Home’s release. But the small changes dotted around these areas are only part of what’s new in the game. What I was more interested in was the new areas that have been added to promote companies, brand names and, of course, PS3 games. Because there are now so many of these, with names such as Audi, Red Bull, Namco, EA Sports, Resident Evil and Far Cry 2, I thought I would narrow it down a little for this article, selecting a few spaces in which I have an interest.

 
The first place I decided to visit was the space for one of my favourite games, Uncharted 2. The space is based around the Nepalese village from the game and, looks wise, it is pretty impressive. Not as good looking as the actual village in the game, but then again, not many things do look as good as Uncharted 2. On first entering the space, you are given a free statue for using in your personal home space. A little further in, there are more Sales and advertising, with a large video screen playing the trailer for the game and the Home store selling costumes of all the games main characters for your avatar. In this area I saw at least two people walking around in full Nathan Drake regalia and again, like the Star Wars costume that I purchased, the likeness was pretty impressive. The area has a fair amount for the player to do, from a treasure hunt in which you have to find all seven pieces of a tribal mask, which then must be assembled, to a huge strategy board game in the centre of the area and five foot races around the space, in which you have to light torches like checkpoints and get to the next before the others go out. There are scoreboards showing the top scores and times of these games.

 
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There is also a space for the original Uncharted game, in the shape of Sully’s Bar. This has doors leading off into other connected sections, each of which has to be downloaded separately, including The Smugglers Den, Uncharted Artifact Room and The Uncharted Archives. The bar itself is pretty empty content wise, it’s more just a space to sit with friends. There is one activity, an arcade cabinet game named Mercenary Madness, which involves the player guiding an adventurer through a series of single screen climbs, jumps and gunfights to reach a treasure chest which allows you to move to the next screen. The Smugglers Den is another single room with pictures From Nathan and Sully’s first PS3 outing adorning the walls, with one neat little touch being the Artifact Viewer which, when clicked on, allows you to scroll through the treasures dotted around the room. The treasures will be familiar to Uncharted players, as they are the hidden items that Nathan picks up throughout his adventure.

 
Then it was back into the bar and up the stairs to check out The Artifact Room. I was a little disappointed to find that it was pretty much exactly the same as The Smugglers Den, with more of the Treasure that Nathan found during his first adventure. Surely these two rooms could have been combined into one larger museum and been just as cool. The Uncharted Archives, on the other hand, is another room similar to the last two. But instead of pictures and items from within the game hanging on the walls, there are pictures of concept art and behind the scenes pictures and footage from the making of the game, a lot of which was quite interesting to see.

 
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The guys at Sony and Naughty Dog have got the use of Home perfect, with a good mix between the advertising of their product and giving the user plenty of fun things to see and do.

 
Moving on, I decided to check out the Red bull space, with Red Bull being one of my favourite drinks and going a long way to helping in my lengthy gaming sessions. The space is separated into three sections, all based around the one beach location. The first area is called Red Bull Illume and is a showcase for Red Bull’s extreme sports photography contest, with some of the pictures on display. I have to say they are pretty amazing shots, so much so that I found myself going online to check out the rest of them. I urge others reading this to do so also, as there are some pretty spectacular images there.

 
After checking out the shots on display, I moved to the next area called quite simply Red Bull Beach. Upon entering this area, one structure immediately catches the eye. At first, it resembled a truck trailer and then I thought maybe a huge waterslide. But, as I got closer, I realized that it was a launch pad and anyone who is familiar with Red Bull Flugtag Contest will know what is coming next. The Flugtag is where people build and then compete in home made flying machines by recklessly throwing themselves and said machine from the launch pad over a body of water, to achieve the greatest distance. The player can take part in the activity by choosing one of five different machines and then, from the launch pad, you tap X at the right time according to a gauge that appears on the screen. This decides the power you launch with. Then use the analogue stick to glide as far as you can before splashing down in the water. All of the greatest distances are recorded on an online scoreboard. This was a definite contender to steal the crown from bowling for most enjoyable activity in Home…

 
…Or so I thought until I entered the third area of the Red Bull space, which is called Red bull Air Race. From the very moment I read that, the only thing running through my mind was “tell me we get to fly the planes”. Although the answer is yes, you do get to fly the planes, both the Air Race and the Flugtag from the previous beach area suffer from the same problem. To play each of the games, you need to be stood in front of the planes or Flugtag machines on display in the correct spot, facing the correct way, before you can hit X to play. As you can imagine, these two games are pretty popular in Home, so not only are you fighting to get in the right position ,you also have to do so without being rude and bumping into other people looking to play. Once you do get into a plane, it is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable things you can find to do in Home. You fly around the course, skimming the beaches and water as low as you dare, while flipping your plane left and right through checkpoint gates, to set as fast a time as possible. Hitting or missing gates incurs a time penalty on the player and, with online leaderboards keeping track of not only every player, but also anyone on your PS3 friends list, it can get a little addictive as you obsessively try to shave of the seconds to set a time that is just a little faster than your previous best, or one of your friends best times. Again, like the Uncharted area, Red Bull have made a good job of advertising their product throughout their space, but also ensured the player has fun things to do, with both of the games available being most enjoyable to play and, without a doubt, two of the most fun things that anyone having a look around Home should check out.

 
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The next stop on my tour was to a retailers space that most gamers in the UK will be familiar with, that being GAME. The space is a base set on the surface of the moon, a Moonbase if you will, and although it is pretty empty content wise at the moment, other than a Lunar Leap game which I will get to soon, the space is mostly taken up with posters of recent and upcoming PS3 releases. Dotted around the same area are pods which, when interacted with, lead to forums allowing the user to discuss the space and the store itself. The interesting part is that it is hinted at, that these pods will, in the future, double as an online store where players can log in, visit the space and then browse and purchase games as they would do on the company’s existing website, even allowing customers with loyalty cards to check and use their points. If this ends up working like they have made it sound, it could be an interesting new way of buying games in the future.

 
As you would expect, this space is like one huge advertisement for both the company itself and PS3 related games and hardware. The one thing that is there right now to amuse players, is the aforementioned Lunar Leap game. This is a pretty basic affair, the aim being for the player to activate eight pressure pads dotted around the edge of a crater, by hopping from pad to pad across the expanse of the crater by holding and releasing the X button to set your power. Once in the air, use left and right to guide your astronaut to the next platform. There is the added danger of the pads flipping to be red on top and landing on those knocks you back to the platform you started on, as does missing your landing. Lighting all eight perimeter pads within the time limit earns the player an astronaut suit with the GAME logo emblazoned across the back for your avatar. The GAME space is pretty barren right now, but has potential, if it delivers on what it is promising in the future.

 
Come back for part three, where Bazaboy explores another couple of areas of interest.

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