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Homefront (PC)

Homefront (PC)

HomeFront (PC) Review

Homefront (PC) Review

Currently the USA has troops stationed in over 150 countries around the world and is by in large considered the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet. As such, the kick-ass image of the American military has also found its way into the media, through films – Team America: World Police – and games – Call of Duty, etc. In most war games today players are given control of a no nonsense, bullet proof marine and asked to carry out tasks around the globe, much like in real life.

It’s become a tedious and boring re-run of the same old storyline for many years now and one that people are becoming less and less fond of, thankfully Kaos Games have given gamers around the world a break from the norm with the release of Homefront…

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As we fired up the game we were greeted by one of the most amazing introductions to any game we’ve come across. The video documents the "past" 16 years up until the year in which the game is set, 2027 and it begins with various news flashes and headlines documenting the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, with the subsequent rise to power of the dictators son, Kim Jong Un. A revolutionist, the youngster manages to unite both North and South Korea, forming the Greater Korean Republic. At the same time as the rise of Korea we witness an America gripped in crisis, oil shortages have ravaged the military thanks to an on-going war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In addition to this the Korean Republic begins its expansion, hitting other Asian countries first and before long forcing Japan to surrender, in time the occupation of America begins. With American infrastructure shattered and a military in disarray it isn’t long before the once great nation has fallen to the Koreans. Queue Robert Jacobs, a former marine helicopter pilot tasked with leading the resistance to victory over the tyrannical Korean forces.

After being rescued on the way to a detention centre by the stereotypical American bad-ass Connor Morgan and token female Rianna our protagonist must fight his way back to the secret hideout of the resistance, dubbed The Oasis. From there the fight to take back California begins. At first glance the storyline is as far-fetched as they come and the game has come under criticism for apparently feeding off of the escalating issues between North Korea and the west at the current time. Yet if each section of the storyline is to be taken separate it paints an extremely bleak, and realistic picture for the future of the US. Written by the man behind Apocalypse now it’s little wonder that the game presents such an unflinching representation of military occupation, with some extremely disturbing cut scenes players must sit through, it’s definitely not for the feint hearted yet slowly but surely players will find themselves hating the evil occupying military and fighting tooth and nail to loosen their grip on the West coast of America. It’s the most compelling storyline and setting we’ve come across in recent times.

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Overall the gameplay and mechanics are nothing extraordinary and feel like any other run of the mill shooter. We are given a vast array of weaponry from sniper rifles to rocket launchers and get the chance to take control of plenty of toys including an attack helicopter – which is actually one of the most fun sequences in the game – and a remote controlled wrecking machine titled "Goliath". Yet it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and does little to elevate Homefront above other titles in the genre. Essentially the game could be seen as a vehicle for telling a great story, with great visuals to carry us along.

Once players do get involved in the action it is good fun, enemies prove difficult to kill whilst there was a great sense of danger and panic whenever we were ambushed – normally in a pristine cul-de-sac with nowhere to run. That’s one thing that Koas have done brilliantly, creating a battlefield that is different from the norm. We rarely found ourselves charging down an open field and going head to head with opposition forces, instead we were pushed into shopping malls and back-yards, true guerrilla warfare which added a different dimension to the game. Yet just as we were getting into it and beginning to enjoy ourselves the single player campaign ended. It’s criminal really that such an engaging storyline can only bring around 5 hours of gameplay and given how abruptly the game ended we felt more than a little disappointed.

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Thankfully there is a brilliant multiplayer that just about makes up for the single player shortages. With two primary modes that most players will be familiar with – Ground Control and Team Deathmatch – you’d be forgiven for thinking it would have the same issues as the single player campaign, yet despite being familiar we found ourselves having enormous fun with them. A big part of this is because it varies from most online FPS titles in the way that matches are scored, offering experience points for team wins rather than focusing on individual play. It creates a sense of comrade-re that is missing from titles such as CoD or Battlefield, as well as the beautifully made maps which project the helplessness of the American military’s situation. Yet it’s not until we explore the world of Battle Points that things get really interesting, these are earned in the same way as experience and can be used to upgrade and unlock new weapons and drones. The BP’s can be spent during the heat of battle on a radar sweep or rocket launcher, yet for the savers among us BP’s can be used to conjure up a number of drones which can be used to wipe out legions of enemy forces in one fell swoop.

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As mentioned the setting of Homefront is in the war-torn west coast of America and the beautifully crafted backdrop creates a sense of realism that few shooters have managed to date. From the picturesque hide-out of the Oasis to the demolished and ravaged suburbs of Colorado players embark on a journey that will have them hooked. The cut-scenes and introduction video are also brilliantly done and make the game worth playing through just to follow them.

There are a few issues though. Player models can be glitchy whilst various animations are shoddily done, grenade throwing for example, so a little more spit and polish before release might have done the game good.

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As players progress through chapters they are brought up to date with the story through broken down and crackling radio announcements. They are gritty and real, much like every other element of the game and provide more depth to the back-story of the Korean occupation of America. This is complimented well by the dialogue between the characters and we found that as the campaign progressed the characters matured and grew on us slightly.

As with most FPS titles the epic soundtrack creates an atmosphere filled with distress and drama which is only amplified by the terrifying gun fights which take place throughout the game. The only issue we really had was that our protagonist seems to be something of a mute, rarely opening his mouth throughout the 5 or so hours of gameplay.

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As single player FPS titles go Homefront does little to separate it from other titles. The gameplay is ‘samey’ whilst the short campaign will leave players frustrated. However what separates Homefront from the pack is the strangely believable storyline and the frighteningly realistic depiction of occupation, from the gory and horrendous cut-scenes to the perfectly constructed back-drop of West coast America in tatters. The brilliant multiplayer also does make up for a short single player campaign and for those of you who love getting involved with the games you play Homefront is as good as it gets.

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Gameplay 80/100 Homefront does nothing to set it apart from other games in the genre when it comes to playing.
Graphics 95/100 It’s not often that we find ourselves blown away by graphics but the detail gone in to creating the setting of war-torn America truly is spectacular, a joy to behold. So good in fact that we forgot all about the glitchy animations and models.
Audio 90/100 Another excellent soundtrack compliments the drama of Homefront perfectly, yet it’s the radio messages between chapters which makes the Audio so good.
Value 80/100 Although the length of the single player campaign is nowhere near long enough the fun-filled Multiplayer modes will bring hours of playing time, mainly thanks to Battle Points and how they are dished out.
(Not an Average)
85/100 Although Homefront isn’t the perfect FPS shooter it proves to be just as much fun as most of its competitors whilst the breath-taking setting and fantastic plot impress. Worth buying if even to watch the cut-scenes.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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