Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Kaos Studios Publisher: THQ Classification: TBC Release Date: 31st Mar 2011 Platforms:PS3XBOX360
Average of 21 Ratings
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It's inevitably going to happen, but you shouldn't make the mistake of comparing Homefront to Call of Duty - while they share similarities, they're quite different games. Where COD is a run-and-gun out-of-breath Michael Bay explosion spectacular, Homefront tries to slow the pace down a little and be a little more cerebral - though it can't help but throw some big explosions at you every now and then.
It's a bit of a tough game to approach, because it plays more like classics than the newer generation of first person shooters. It's immediately apparent in the control system even - you have a jump button. Not a jump/contextually accurate leap button, which allows you to leap over cover when it is occasionally appropriate. You have a duck button - not a duck/find cover button.
You have to find the best cover for the situation, and the game relies on you to... well, to be able jump over things. As always, it comes down to how necessary you find it for a game to hold your hand - Homefront isn't your friend in this case.
This goes deeper than just not being able to switch to a third-person perspective when you 'snap-to' cover. You won't drop dead in one shot like in ARMA or the Rainbow Six games (back before they had... well, snap-to cover systems) - but four or five will put you down. This makes Homefront a hard game - you will die when playing it.
This is both one of the highlights and low points of the game for me - I relish being challenged in a blockbuster FPS again, but I dislike dying to random things like a random grenade or a lucky RPG.
The grenade thing is directly tied to way the game moves though. Kaos Studios has endeavoured to slow the pace of Homefront down by slowing the speed of the player - and this is a mistake on their part.
There's no real attempt to hide the influence Half-Life has had on Kaos' effort with Homefront - from the silent protagonist, the strong female sidekick, the opening public transport ride and the attention to detail put into the background.
And while these things are a welcome homage to Valve's iconic series, the biggest lesson they could have learned from Gordon Freeman's romps around the universe is that instead of slowing the player down - instead of wresting control from my hands and making me step at a snails pace, they should just box them in and let them run wild. It was a huge improvement when it happened in Half-Life 2 - it seems like the team at Kaos never made it that far though.
So for the entire game our silent protagonist - a helicopter pilot, not a scientist - Robert Jacobs runs at a pace barely faster than I can walk. When your sprinting feels like a light jog, it can be difficult to properly convey the sense of urgency the game deserves at times.
The game feels urgent too - despite having quite a few moments of quiet respite. You get many chances to simply wander around the world of Homefront, and you definitely should when you do. The world isn't just there to justify the corridors you follow on your way to more explosions in Homefront, and you can talk to people about what living in a Korean-occupied America is like (when they're not shooting at you).
The no-holds barred approach to story is happily not as 'WOO AMERICA' as most FPS games have become these days as well - it paints a very grim picture of middle america, of the tenuous state of race relations everywhere and of the grittier elements of war.
It doesn't dive as deep into some of these concepts as I would have liked though - the story seems restrained somehow. Whether it was because Kaos or THQ didn't want to offend people or if there were other reasons I don't know, but after seeing how far they were willing to push the envelope on some issues (mass graves) it was disappointing to see them retract from really confronting others (the morality of killing invading Koreans is briefly touched on but quickly dismissed).
The atmosphere is good - the graphics aren't going to win any awards, but the world design makes up for it in spades. The voice acting is good, if a little repetitive at times - but I found the music had a habit of foreshadowing when something was going to go down, somewhat ruining it on occasion.
All of that and I haven't touched the multiplayer. As much as I enjoyed the singleplayer, at about 6 hours long it would be tough to justify a full purchase for just that. Happily Homefront's multiplayer is very good.
It's a bit of a difficult concept to get your head around at first, as it sits somewhere between Call of Duty and Battlefield in terms of map size and game design. There are a number of different game modes, but the star of the show is definitely Ground Control.
In Ground Control the player is tasked with capturing three objective points for his team - if they capture the positions long enough to earn enough points, they win the round and the map alters, presenting three new objectives deeper in enemy territory.
On 360 the game is capable of 32 players in the game at the same time - but the trade off is that the world textures are significantly worse. Happily it allows the player to have an outstanding draw distance - a trade-off I think is definitely worthwhile.
Regardless of game mode the player earns Battle Points - resembling the dollars you earn in Counter-Strike - except instead of only buying at the start of each round and in a designated 'buy zone' you can use them to purchase things whenever you like. The catch - you can only buy things assigned to your kit's loadout.
In a sort of 'class' system you can use the Assault, Sniper or Submachine Gun 'kit' and each one comes with different loadout options. The Assault kit lets you purchase a rocket launcher or some body armour mid-match, increasing his durability or letting him take out that tank. Other classes get to call in drones, airstrikes and other equipment designed to make their lives easier. You can customise these loadouts too, so you're not stuck with guns you don't like.
The vehicles are another good addition to the game - they find a good balance between being tantalising enough to make you want to save your BP for the big attack helicopter and crucial enough to success to spend it right then and there. When you're not hoofing it you're not stuck without options, which is good to see. Thanks to the slightly techy setting of the game you have EMP grenades, proximity launchers and other items available if you're stuck between a tank and a hard place.
The Battle Commander - an AI construct which dynamically alters your objectives - is another welcome addition to the game. It will highlight enemies for you to kill (like someone on the other team who is on a killstreak) or simply tell you to reinforce a position that needs defending. Of course, if you get on a killstreak yourself the other team will be hunting you down - a bit of a bummer if you're picking off enemy snipers (though it does encourage you to stop camping).
My experience with multiplayer was definitely positive - even when playing on overseas servers I didn't suffer at the sight of the dreaded 'red' ping. I could still snipe away if I felt like being lazy (running is a little faster in MP compared to SP, but it's still slow) and get kills - but up close and personal I did well also. The maps have been designed so that you don't feel like you're running forever.
Homefront is definitely worth a look. It has its flaws - there's no question about that. It's nice to be able to appreciate the singleplayer for what it is, but there is definitely room for improvement come Homefront 2 - think longer campagin, more confronting of issues and less excruciating walk speed. The Multiplayer is fine how it is, the way I see it. As long as it maintains a healthy community of active players, it'll be around for a while.
compared to whats on the market and hopefully whats coming this has to be the worst online game i have had the misfortune to play. rip off comes to mind. is it the failing US economy and they are just pumping out cap