The PlayStation 3's virtual world transforms from tired curiosity to gamer theme park tomorrow, when Sony rolls out its massive fall facelift for PlayStation Home.
It's a new beginning for PlayStation Home, the free virtual world that's included with every PlayStation 3 console. While the original version of the service launched back in 2008 had its fair share of fans, many found the scattered game-themed zones and sterile environments didn't offer enough entertainment value to keep them coming back for more. To put it bluntly, it just wasn't much fun. If all goes according to plan that changes tomorrow.
The new PlayStation Home, which we discussed at length earlier this year, does away with the traditional Home zones in favour of a stylish universal hub and a series of genre-themed amusement park zones. There's the gritty action district; the tailgate partying of the sports district; the Pier Park, a boardwalk filled with entertaining casual games; and the adventure zone, at launch filled with content related to Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, complete with a multiplayer shooter that recreates part of the game's Yemen level.
Five new freemium game experiences will also be available with the launch of the redesign:
• Bootleggers '29: Set in the seedy underbelly of the Roaring Twenties, this PlayStation Home exclusive first-person shooter found in the Action District pits cops vs. criminals in a Prohibition-era game of Capture the Cask. Boasting real-time multiplayer action, a variety of vintage weapons and unlockable rewards, and the unique ability to play as your PlayStation Home avatar, Bootleggers '29 is a 100% free-to-play game that introduces a classic narrative to the modern shooter genre.
• PlayStation Home Hold 'Em: A series of backroom poker tables hosted in the brand new Sportswalk district, PlayStation Home Hold 'Em squares players off in a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all battle of the bluffs. Only the best of the best will progress to the high stakes tables and collect all the prizes in this free version of the wildly-popular Texas Hold 'Em card game.
• PlayStation Home Sports Trivia: Test your sports expertise against the PlayStation Home community and unlock a series of themed rewards in this massive sports trivia game, found in the Sportswalk. Packed with over 10,000 trivia questions, this game will challenge the memories of even the most die-hard sports fans.
• RC Rally: Build and customise your own remote controlled car and race against friends over multiple courses, performing stunts and tricks and unlocking numerous upgrades along the way. This fast-paced PlayStation Home original game can be found in the new Pier Park.
• Cogs: A 3D version of Lazy 8 Studios award-winning Steampunk puzzle game, Cogs can be found front-and-center in PlayStation Home's new Hub. Build a variety of machines from sliding tiles and unlock exclusive PlayStation Home rewards in this highly-addictive puzzler.
"This is a major milestone for PlayStation Network, and we are thrilled to bring a new core experience to PlayStation Home where games are front and centre," said Jack Buser, director of PlayStation Home, SCEA. "Home's community is made up of some of the most passionate gamers on PS3, and we've listened to their feedback since Home launched in 2008, finally transforming Home itself into a game. This redesign marks a new beginning for PlayStation Home, and players can expect much more to come."
It sure seems like there's something for every sort of game here, but the proof is in the pudding. I'm looking forward to giving the new PlayStation Home a visit tomorrow. Hopefully this time I won't get bored in a half-hour and leave until the next big redesign.