Reviews

Homefront – Review

Release Date: Out Now!
Developer: Kaos Studios
Publisher: THQ
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: No
Co-Op: No
Multiplayer: Yes
PEGI: 15

It’s not often that a game comes along and provides a rather thought-provoking experience. It’s even rarer for that game to be an FPS, but in Homefront’s first hour and a bit it proves to be just that.

The premise of Homefront is a rather dark future where North Korea and South Korea have united. Over the years they annex several countries and China joins them. America is on it’s knee’s and Korea takes advantage, quickly overwhelming America with an EMP.
The game picks up as much of America is occupied, and the military is scattered around the country and putting up as much fight as they can.

In the opening few minutes Homefront makes its mark as you take control of Jacobs – a military pilot – as he’s being captured by the Korean army. As he’s being driven through the city the reality of the occupation hits home as couples are forcefully separated, others shot dead in the street. One scene in particular hits home involving a child and his parents. It’s troubling on several levels, and the goal of it all is simple: the developers want you to hate the invaders, and it works.
Over the next hour Homefront uses its premise well as you fight through suburbs and even a football field that has been converted into a concentration camp. The familiar locations help the game to hit home, even more so if you’re actually from America and happen to live in a suburb.

Being shown the resistance HQ is a highlight of the game as it’s a home away from home hidden from the Korean Army. It has children playing on swings as adults wander around fixing weapons and trying to survive, an you can walk through it speaking to the resistance members. it’s  shame that the game doesn’t let you have more time here.

However, Homefronts premise cracks after the first few hours and degenerates with the story largely fading into the background and the desperate resistance fight becoming one more FPS where you kill legions of foes. it has some cool moments, but it’s disappointing to see Homefronts fantastic premise and first few hours slip down the drain. It simply feels as though Homefront doesn’t use its own idea’s as well as it could have.

So that leaves the core gameplay, and once again Homefront does it well and proves to be a solid, fun shooter, but it never does it well enough to set itself apart.
As you may expect you’ve got an assortment of things that go bang. Being set slightly in the future the guns and weapons all have a resemblance to modern-day gear, but with some slight differences. They feel meaty to handle and fun to fire.
However, Homefronts gunplay doesn’t quite have the slick and smooth feeling of other FPS giants. Along the singleplayer campaign you’ll encounter a few cool moments like piloting an attack helicopter or controlling Goliath – a six wheeled missile firing….um, thing. – and it’s all pretty good fun.
You’ll get to fight through suburbs, farms and even the Golden Gate bridge on your way through the games five-hour campaign mode. Such a campaign length is pretty standard in FPS games, but that’s because in most of them five hours is simply enough, but in Homefront it feels as it needs another few hours to wrap it up properly.

So, while the singleplayer aspects of Homefront are a tad disappointing the multiplayer side of the game does impress more.

Homefronts mulitplayer has three things that help set it apart: dedicated servers, big maps and 32 players games. The end result is a frantic game of carnage as players run around the big maps and tanks roll across the landscape blowing seven kinds of hell out of everything
Battle Points are something else that helps Homefront standout, and are earned by killing enemies, capturing objectives and other activities. You can then use those points to buy things mid-game like drones which you can control and drive (or fly) around the battlefield causing carnage. You can also buy airstrikes, ammo resupplies and more, or even to spawn in a tank or helicopter – assuming you have the points to do so. It’s a great system that helps to keep the action moving, and later in the game it’s great to see tanks and choppers hammering around the big maps.
The game only comes with two game modes: the standard Team Deathmatch and Ground War. Ground War see’s you capturing objectives to earn points. You need to capture and hold the points to fill up the bar. Once filled your team wins the round and the points will move into the enemy’s territory. T won the game you need to win two rounds. It’s a good system and pushing the objectives into enemy territory keeps the action feeling intense.
However, both gametypes come with a variant Battle Commander mode, and this is another area in which Homefront delivers a cool idea. The Battle Commander essentially watches the battle and assigns threat levels to dangerous enemies – ranging from one to five stars – and then marks their general location on the map and assigns a few players from your team to stop them. Killing these threats earns bonus Battle Points as well. The higher the Thread Rating the more players will be sent after them. The bonus is if you’re the player with a bounty on your head your own Battle Commander will start giving you perks such as better damage and more armor, but you’re going to need them. it’s a unique and interesting system, and one that works extremely well.

The larger maps are varied from tight suburbs to open farmland maps, and offer plenty of scope for any type of player whether you’re a sniper or SMG style of player. Add in the usual customisation options and ranking system and you’re onto a winner.
There aren’t as many weapons to pick from as other FPS games, but the selection is still good enough, as is the scopes and attachments that can be added to the weapons along with camo selection, infantry abilities (essentially perks) and the ability to set up separate perks for each vehicle in the game.

However, there are problems in the multiplayer such as a few balancing issues, and server problems are abundant at the time of this review. However, it should be said that THQ are already working on patching the game so these servers problems shouldn’t plague the game for much longer.

 As a singleplayer only experience it’s hard to recommend Homefront. While it’s premise and story are well done, it quickly degenerates into a fairly standard linear FPS.
However, as a multiplayer experience Homefront offers big battle and plenty of cool idea’s. it doesn’t quite have the gunplay to rival the biggest titans in the genre, but it is offering something a little different, and definitely something fun.

The Good:
+ Massive multiplayer games equal mayhem
+ The first hour is a thought-provoking experience
+ Saving up for that helicopter in multiplayer.

The Bad:
– The campaign never manages to live up to its own ideas.

– Server problems.
– Doesn’t quite have the gunplay to match the big boys.

Scores:

Graphics: 7
America looks oddly pretty in a ruined state, but there’s a roughness to the graphics that gives everything a rather odd look, and texture pop-in is pretty frequent.

Sound: 7.5
Decent voice acting and some good music to back it up.

Story: 7
it could have been so much more. As it stands the first hour or two are some of the finest I’ve seen in a while, but after that it never manages to stay on track.

Gameplay: 8
It’s the multiplayer that shines here, but the singleplayer never manages to distinguish itself enough from other FPS titles out there.

Lifespan: 7
Five hours for the singleplayer, but multiplayer should take a good bit of your time.

Overall: 7.5
Rating Homefront is a tough thing to do. Its singleplayer is disappointing and feels like it could have been so much more. However, the multiplayer offers big maps and plenty of players in a game resulting in good fun and plenty of mayhem. If you’re just afer a new online shooter then Homefront will satisfy.

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