In case you missed it, check out part one of our feature.
Wave goodbye to MySpace
Ambitious? That's an understatement. With "social networking" and "user-generated content" looking like the buzzwords for 2007, Sony isn't so much jumping on the existing bandwagon as building its own band-tank, fitting it with nitrous feed and machine guns, and ploughing through the competition.
Available as a free download from the PlayStation store, Home adds its own icon to the cross-media bar and then opens like a game. From there, you leap into an environment that's similar to the virtual world of PC smash Second Life, where you're free to wander around chatting to people with your own avatar. Sony isn't stopping with barging into Linden Labs' corner of the market, though - they're also taking on the mighty YouTube, with a cinema service that'll let users generate their own content. And as an authoritative jab at Microsoft, they're eschewing the hardware giant's Achievement Points in favor of the Hall Of Fame, a gigantic building reminiscent of the Senate Council from Star Wars just waiting for you to jam it with trophies. MySpace? Why post comments on each others' pages when you can hang out in your own flat, Bluetooth chatting in real time, displaying holiday snaps on the walls and subjecting everyone to your indie music collection via your virtual stereo.
First impressions: at the moment, Home's less Grand Theft Auto and more Ikea catalogue - we're talking minimalist lines and tranquil gardens, peaceful ponds and lovely trees. That'll change, though - Home's going to be funded by advertising, so it's only a matter of time before every games company in the world's putting gigantic flashing billboards in the fields. Similarly, the outfit selections look a bit "Gap ad" at the moment, but once the collective imagination of the PlayStation 3 generation gets around it, expect it to be huge. Beta testing starts in April - we'll be moving into our flat shortly afterwards. Drop in and see us in September, when the whole thing launches properly.
Can I change my look?
Yes. Accurate rendition of yourself not getting enough attention? Then you'll be able to chisel up those cheekbones, streamline that nose and firm up those shoulders with a set of RPG-style menus any time you like. You can change clothes on a whim, obviously - but we're not yet clear on whether you'll be able to shift gender, so you might want to think before you doom yourself to endless cyber-pestering as a pretend lady.
How do I get more stuff?
Several ways. Some items - like promotional T-shirts for games like Heavenly Sword - will be provided free by publishers touting their products. Other clothes and items will be earned via in-game achievements. But expect to pay nominal amounts of real cash for more exclusive furniture. We'll take a Kratos-style godly throne, thanks.
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