Thursday, March 8, 2007

The PS3 Experience That We've All Been Waiting For

The tides can turn quickly in war. One day, you're advancing on the enemy, slaughtering all that get in your way, and the next you're ducking for cover and watching your best friend get turned into a pile of goo. There are a lot of war video games out there...

The console wars are no different. Since the PS3 debuted just a few short months ago, everyone has been beating up on it. And for good reason - the hardware was unproven and expensive, the OS was buggy, and the launch lineup was a joke. But that's all going to change over the next few months (except maybe the price), with the final bomb hitting this fall - PlayStation Home.

This year, GDC, or Game Developer's Conference for those of you that play video games under a rock, has been all about the future of the PS3. They premiered a new virtual landscape called the PlayStation Home, which is basically the best of Second Life, the Wii, and the 360 all rolled into one. The interface is a fully rendered 3D world that a character you design can roam around in. You can chat with other users (by voice or text), hang out in virtual theaters and game rooms, and even throw parties in your very own virtual apartment.

Speaking of your apartment, it houses a trophy room. Starting this year, all games will feature unlockable achievements. So, you hit a milestone, you get a trophy. A custom, 3D trophy that you can show off to your virtual friends. Depending on the game, you may even win items that can adorn the rest of your virtual pad.

And the best part about all this? Access is totally free. There's no monthly scratch to lay down as in Xbox Live, so everyone gets to hang out and play. There will be premium items available for purchase, probably relating to how you decorate your apartment or accessorize your character, but you won't be required to lay out any funds.

Needless to say, everyone is very excited about this. And for good reason - this is a big deal, and just what the PS3 needed. That being said, this should have been ready when the console launched, as it would have made the thin game lineup and high price tag a little easier to swallow. But better late than never.

If all goes according to plan with the new interface and the games that are on the horizon, the PS3 could be a real contender in this war. It wasn't long ago that the Wii was all anybody was talking about. Now, no one's talking about it, and won't be until Mario or Metroid come out. The PS3 may turn out to be the wolf in sheep's clothing that all the fanboys and Sony execs were praying for. Now, let's hope the execution is as good as the hype.

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