The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Burdened by a record deficit, shrinking middle class, aging
infrastructure, overstretched military, and an increasingly hostile
political climate, some might say the United States of America has seen
better days. Extrapolating these events alongside a highly implausible
reunion between North and South Korea, THQ and Hollywood screenwriter
John Milius have concocted an alternate universe Red Dawn that replaces the Soviets with the Korean People’s Army.
joins our imperiled nation in 2027, two years after a Korean EMP blast
renders America helpless and opens the borders to invasion. The battle
scars stretch across the nation. As protagonist Richard Jacobs is
detained by KPA troops and forced onto a bus in Montrose, Colorado, you
watch helplessly as the bus rolls past internment camps, impromptu
executions, and ditches filled with everyday Americans. When a truck
smashes into the bus and resistance fighters free Jacobs, I gladly
joined the fight to liberate our sacred White Castles and Hooters
restaurants (both of which are littered across the Midwest town).
setup immediately sucks you in, but once you join the ranks of the
resistance, the emotional scenes that raise Homefront above your typical
point-and-shoot affair become increasingly scarce. Kaos Studios smartly
implements Half-Life 2 style calm-before-the-storm moments by giving
you downtime in the resistance camp to get to know the ragtag group of
patriots, but your options here are limited and I never developed an
attachment to my comrades. It’s tough to warm up to people when they
constantly get in your way on the battlefield and bicker nonstop about
the feasibility of the plan in action.
Once the bullets start
flying, Homefront fails to distinguish itself from the myriad shooters
making camp in Call of Duty’s wake. Everything on the standard FPS
checklist is here – sniper battles, turret set pieces, a chopper
sequence, and even the 2027 equivalent to the AC-130 mission in Call of
Duty 4. While placing these segments in a shooter isn’t a bad decision,
Homefront brings nothing new to the table outside of a remote-controlled
drone. Rather than give you the keys to this destructive trump card,
you’re limited to selecting its next targets and watching the fireworks
The controls are competent enough to get you through
the battles, but the lack of polish and craftsmanship is evident
throughout the five-hour campaign. It’s easy to get hung up on objects
in the environment, the “follow-me” NPCs guiding you from objective to
objective move at a snail’s pace, and the graphics are hardly cutting
edge. From low-resolution textures to the static, pixelated skies,
Homefront looks like it was built during the transition to the current
generation of consoles. Despite its underperforming graphics, the game
still suffers from the occasional framerate dip and animation hitch.
some well-crafted maps and a unique in-game economy, the multiplayer
fares better than the campaign. Rather than give each team a set number
of vehicles at the start of the match, Homefront rewards you with Battle
Points for each kill, assist, or flag capture. Players can then use
these points in-match to purchase cheap perks like flak jackets at any
time during the match, or save them to unlock the more expensive,
tide-turning toys like armored vehicles, drones, and air strikes.
multiplayer is also easier to approach for less-skilled players thanks
to the clever Battle Commander mode. This twist on traditional team
deathmatch and conquest modes evens the battlefield by placing beacons
on skilled players riding long killstreaks. The more kills you rack up,
the more opposing players are notified of your position. Doing so
discourages exploitative camping and gives good players a run for their
money by putting the X on their backs.
The Ground Control conquest
mode features 32-player battles, but during our play sessions lag
became an issue whenever large clusters of players and vehicles were
grouped together. Homefront also features a progression system with 75
levels, weapon unlockables, and perks. Though I would have liked to see
more weapons included, there is enough here to keep you busy for a tour
With its interesting premise, evocative opening sequence,
and clever variation on multiplayer, Homefront has a strong foundation.
It’s a shame that technical limitations and a derivative single-player
campaign keep the game from realizing its potential.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.