EA Sports Complex - first look

Let’s be honest, PlayStation Home is probably not where your heart is. Sure, it’s only in Beta, but it hasn't been the experience people were hoping for when the virtual world was first announced in 2007. Slowly but surely, Sony and its partners are molding the service into a place you’d want to call home. EA Sports’ contribution is the EA Sports Complex.

The EA Sports Complex is a large indoor area in which you can play poker, race cars, or partake in a bit of golf. The first thing we checked out was poker. The green poker tables are low-stakes affairs for up to eight players. This is where you go when you’re broke and need to earn some points. Once you’ve got a bit of a bankroll, you can hit the red or black tables. This is where the serious players hang out, and while you might lose it all, it’s also possible that you’ll win the mini-tournament and your avatar will walk away with a bracelet. That should impress the girl doing the robot in the corner!

After poker, we went for a spin in the racing simulator. Up to four people can participate in what is essentially a race with go-karts that look a bit like Formula One cars. The racing has a decidedly arcade feel to it, even before taking into account the cars' various boosting abilities.

Lastly, there’s golf. This part of the complex wasn't yet playable, but we were able to take a look at the driving range. In it are two greens, some water, and a few bunkers. Once you’ve gotten a few people together, your goal is to get closest to the pin on your tee shot and then sink your putt in the fewest number of strokes. Once everyone has finished a hole, the pin moves and you try again. The winner of each challenge earns points that can be used to play poker or used to buy additional boost for your race car.

None of the aforementioned activities cost real money to play, but there is an as-of-now empty EA Store that will eventually sell yet-to-be determined items for yet-to-be announced prices. While none of these games are what you’d call “deep” experiences, they are a step in the right direction, and they are free. Keep your eyes out for the open Beta which is tentatively scheduled to start sometime between mid-April and mid-May.

Mar 13, 2009