Review

Homefront is the latest game out of Kaos Studios, known for its 2008 release Frontlines: Fuel of War. Much like that game, Homefront is about a future which sees war emerge as a result of a lack of oil and a collapsing United States. However, this game revolves around an invasion of the US by a united North and South Korea. Despite this interesting premise, the game never takes full advantage and, as a result, is nothing more than a handful of soldiers overcoming insurmountable odds, similar to most other shooters on the market in almost every way, just not as good.

For a game that was penned by John Milius, writer of Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now, the story has a very cookie cutter format. It is a been there, done that, tale of US collapse and occupation. This time, North Korea is the invading army. Homefront could easily be about an alien invasion if they simply said alien instead of Korean, but then again, alien has been done a lot more. Apparently North Korea is the next big player in the attempt to defeat the United States in the gaming world, since Russia hasn’t been able to do it yet. After uniting North and South Korea after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Un leads a campaign to unite much of southern Asia. In 2027, Korea launches a communications satellite into space, which turns out to be an EMP device that effectively disables an already struggling United States. There is a bit of back story revealed through newspapers scattered across the battlefield, but it too fails to deliver any connection to the story. It is a very generic feeling story and it is abundantly clear that it is nothing more than filler to get you from one atrocity to the next.

Korean rule is ruthless and those who resist are openly killed in the streets, at least during the opening sequence.

Those atrocities are what Homefront does best, but even still they are not done terribly well. Detention camps, mass graves; they all add some emotion to Homefront. Imagining these events bring a unique weight to the game, giving you the feeling that, despite it being a game, you have to put an end to it. Usually these events are ruined by one of your squadmates overreacting and plunging you into a firefight. Yes, it is a shooter and that is what shooters do, but the way they go about it takes you out of the mindset that they try so hard to put you in. Kaos fails to build up the moment and leave a lasting impact. It also doesn’t help that the cliché feel of the game allows you to anticipate events, such as this person dying, or that location being attacked, because that’s what would happen in similar games.

None of the aforementioned problems with the story mean that the game isn’t fun. It is a capable shooter that stays just entertaining enough through the entirety of the relatively short campaign. The fifth chapter features an especially fun sniping mission, which requires you to eliminate specifically marked targets so your allies may advance unnoticed. Many sequences feel ripped straight out of Call of Duty, such as a sequence where you control the gunner seat of a circling support aircraft called a UCAV, similar to the AC-130 sequence in Modern Warfare. These sequences are generally well done and are a nice break in the action, even if they are usually over before you know it.

What isn’t fun is Homefront’s overall lackluster A.I. and shooting. The various weapons feel weak and unsatisfying to shoot. They also sound pretty awful compared to shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield. Luckily, the A.I. is fairly incompetent in small numbers and still isn’t terribly threatening in large groups. They will often stand in the open and allow you to shoot them without difficulty. When they do use cover, they will often remain in cover even if you are next to them and shooting. In other instances they will pop out of cover and not shoot. Though your allies make them seem competent by comparison. Squadmates are generally useless as enemies will only target them if they are in very close range. They also seem to wait for enemies to be in cover before firing at them. This leaves you to fight most if not all enemies without support, which can lead to some annoying deaths.

Please, avoid the single player, just head online. Nothing to see here.

When the single player inevitably fails to impress, you can dive right into Homefront’s multiplayer mode. Homefront features six game modes. Ground Control is a 32 player conquest style game. Players must fight for control of three points. Once a team has reached a certain score they win the round and three more points become available for capture. The first team to win two rounds wins. Team Deathmatch is the classic get the most kills to win you’ve come to know and love, though it only supports 24 players. Skirmish cycles between the two modes and allows for 16 players. There are also Battle Commander modes for each of the standard game types. This makes specific players targets as they accomplish feats, such as multiple kills in a row, or using vehicles. Unfortunately, a Battle Code is required to progress past level 5. Battle Codes come with new copies of the game, or can be purchased for $9.99 or 800ms points. They will be required to access the Battle Commander modes, which require level 7 to access.

You can party up with up to 15 other players to join the game of your choice. The various maps you’ll play on are well designed and easily cater to each class. The various classes are standard for shooters like COD. Infantry, sniper, and demolitions are just a few of those available. What makes each class feel unique is the various abilities they have. Killing players and taking points will grant you battle points. These battle points are used to purchase abilities on the fly. They can be as small as a rocket launcher, or something much more deadly, such as a UAV chopper. Each class has their own powerful killstreak of sorts, meaning that playing different classes adds a bit of variety to the multiplayer, if only a little bit.

Multiplayer is actually as fun as it looks.

Unfortunately for the multiplayer, it suffers from the same unsatisfying shooting, and shares the same decent at best visuals as the single player. Textures are generally poor, and characters look especially bland. There are games from the launch of this current generation that look better than Homefront. It isn’t as big a deal in the multiplayer, but it it still noticeable. The voice acting is average and the dialogue is sub par. There is an accompanying orchestral score, like every other big budget first person shooter out there, but Homefront’s is nothing special. It is a bit of a common theme that much of Homefront feels underwhelming.

Since THQ has made it clear that they wish to continue the Homefront story line, they should ensure that Kaos isn’t just making another Call of Duty clone. They should do their best to differentiate themselves from other shooters so that the series can stand out. That, and a lot more polish, can help turn Homefront into a well respected series that doesn’t rely on being like the other guy. For now, Homefront is an intro that leaves much to be desired, but paves the way for what should be a much improved sequel.

Chris@thosegamingnerds.com

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Chris
No hard feelings... / Chris@thosegamingnerds.com /