Conspiracy: Our Investigation Inside PlayStation Home’s Latest Title
PlayStation Home has seen it’s fair share of additions, mostly in the form of unique spaces to promote new games or DLC, or individual items to help make your online avatar represent you, or whoever you want to be. The idea is to give you the tools to create your own online environment while answering the constant challenge of providing you and your friends a new way to interact. Enter: Conspiracy.
Conspiracy is a crime and heist filled world inside of Home where you are asked to step into the role of a secret agent and take matters into your own hands. Immediately, you’ll find yourself in the midst of two enemy factions, WisperWyre and the Reus, both who need your help collecting as much intel on the other as possible. Your job is to steal whatever info you can through means of infiltration, spying, hacking computers, and then running and gunning your way past security bots towards freedom. We spent our time undercover to help you decide whether or not you should enlist in the struggle.
Conspiracy starts out like most Home areas by introducing you to a central hub. The room is very well designed, offering bits of the game as decor, and distinctly giving each faction a separate area for members to redeem points or shop for items. However, the biggest problem Conspiracy hits you almost immediately when you ask yourself, “Now what do I do?” Very little direction is given anywhere in the game, including inside missions. As a matter of fact, while the game is intended to shroud you with a sense of mystery, there’s also a sense of mystery in figuring out even the most basic of principles. There isn’t an introduction to the world, or a ‘getting started’ resource/video within the hub that you’ll search endlessly for. Instead, the room has dozens of players constantly asking each other “What do we do?” and “How do I…?”
Find your way to the central computer area to discover your available missions, which are made up of labyrinth style corridors that require you to steal a briefcase of intel, called “the goods”, at the end of the maze. Once touching it though, you will trigger an alarm that starts a 2 minute countdown timer for you to run back to the starting elevator. Returning to in the hub world, you can sell your goods for XP to whichever faction offers the most, which in turn unlocks more missions as your level increases. Rinse and repeat, and that’s Conspiracy.
To add more life to each mission, opportunities to hack security search lights, floor turrets and locked doors are implemented on wall computer monitors. Hacking is achieved through one of three types of mini-games, all of which offer very little style and imagination when considering how much time one will spend playing each.
The story deals with two rival factions hell-bent on acquiring any data from the opposition. However, what this translates to is intercepting emails sent by either side, and piecing together the situation for yourself. This would be somewhat acceptable if the messages were collected in order, one faction at a time, but by staying true to the idea of random data interceptions, each selection of emails presented to you are a haphazard grouping of spam, replies to other non-present messages, or nonsensical rants. With no NPC’s, and a seemingly endless amount of characters sending, receiving and referenced in emails, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads trying to determine whether the story is complicated and deep, or just terrible: it’s almost impossible to tell. It simply takes too much effort to piece together the story, especially since this information is not logged or saved. In order to recall emails, you must replay levels and hope to come across the messages again. On the plus side, you’ll definitely find humor here, not only with some great references the developers have inserted in emails, but also with emails sent by disgruntled Reus or Wisperwyre employees ranting, or asking odd questions like, “Is it just me, or does all Mexican food around here tast like it was made by somebody who read about it in a book?”
Take a trip into Conspiracy, and you’ll play a half-decent spy game, but take a look at Conspiracy as a whole, and you’ll see something amazing. Beyond the game’s faults, Conspiracy is the first of it’s kind on PlayStation Home, and sets a framework for greatness to evolve if future titles are to be developed. Often, limitations with Conspiracy came from developing on Home itself; your character’s movement speed will make you search every untested button combo for a hidden sprint ability, not to mention the load times which can be a near deal-breaker. That being said, the market for this game is immense, with literally hundreds of thousands of people ready and willing to immediately try your product. Assuming Jet Set Games listens to fan feedback and consistently incorporates new ideas, we can see great potential for Conspiracy and any other game of its kind.