Homefront is a game that's been on my radar for a long time. After about 30 hours of gameplay I can safely say Homefront has lived up to my expectations. For the most part. Homefront is set in the year 2027 where the KPA (Korean People's Army) has invaded the United States. You play as Robert Jacob, former Marine helicopter pilot which has been ordered to be sent to a reeducation camp in Alaska for failing to answer drafts from the Occupation forces. However, from the start of the game you are "rescued" by two resistance fighters, Connor and Rianna which help escort you back the Resistance Camp where you meet up with the other resistance fighters, Hopper and Boone. Your goal is to help the United States Military recover fuel from San Francisco, but obviously just like in any other video game, it's not that easy.
From the beginning of the game, Homefront's story is engaging and emotional. You will witness situations were a civilian is being strangled to death with a plastic bag over his head as the KPA begins to beat him with the butt of his rifle. To a point where a small child watches his mother and father shot repeatably up against a wall until death, only to see the child run over screaming in fear, shaking them like he wants them to wake up. While situations like this will grab you in making you feel sorry for the characters within the game, the game tends to die down after the first few chapters to the point where it feels like they're trying to make the game more emotional, but it just doesn't work. One great thing about Homefront is there isn't really any cut scenes, every time you think there might be one, you end up controlling the character yourself. While this may sound great, it will probably throw off tons of players since you will be having tons of "slow walking" moments where you follow a certain character and listen to them talk, but you can't really do anything but look around. The games story is definitely a good one but short lived, the voice acting however isn't the level of quality it should be considering THQ/Kaos Studios went through getting John Milius to write the story. While the story is great and all, the dialog can become very tiresome. I can only handle the same sentence being said a few times before I'm ready to throw my controller out the window. Hearing Connor say "Pick up those grenades", "Jacob, pick up those grenades" repeatably until a pick up the grenades with no indication of where they are, drives me insane. This happens multiple times throughout the campaign, where something small like picking up grenades is part of the objective, so the characters will repeat the same lines within a short few seconds of each other until you complete the task. The graphics are tough to talk about because some say, they're great, and some say they're horrible. In my opinion the graphics look great, but certain things in the game, especially up close look terrible. I think the reason some say the graphics are bad is because of Homefront's graphical style. Homefront has a dark, gritty look to it. It's not like Call of Duty or Battlefield where everything is nice and clean I guess you could say. Think more Gears of War style set in modern America. They wont blow you away by any means, but I've certainly seen much worse.
Thankful the actual gameplay is a blast. The guns feel great and the games controls are exactly like Call of Duty, which is a good thing since you wont spend time learning what does what. The actual feel of the game is one that is hard to describe. Some will say the game plays exactly like Call of Duty, which in a way is true but Homefront also has it's own unique type feel to it that will take a little bit to get use to, but that's not a bad thing. All the guns, explosions, sound effects, etc sound great and will make you feel like you're a part of war, especially in the multiplayer. The campaign is definitely worth playing and will require multiple playthroughs if you're an Achivement/Trophy Hunter, since you will need to do things like: completing the game on the hardest difficulty, collecting all 61 newspaper clippings, complete each level without dying etc. While this adds replay value to the single player, it also adds more frustration. The games AI is very frustrating, especially on the hardest difficulty. Its no that the game is hard, it's that the AI is cheap. They can often shoot through things you cannot, they have pinpoint accuracy from any range, and if you're behind cover and the tinniest little bit of your body is not, they will shoot it and you will die. Besides the AI being annoying, you often have to deal with invisible walls since you will need to use cover at all times. Cars, trees, dumpsters, etc all seem to have invisible walls when trying to use them as cover. If you're crouched behind a broken car, and your gun is barley over it giving you just enough room to line up a shot, you will be faced with the power of an invisible wall. Which obviously you can't shoot through, but the AI certainly can. Now don't get me wrong, not everything in the game has invisible walls, but trying to shoot through little openings, or cracks in broken objects will not be accomplished in this game. It's hard to talk about the single player in a game like Homefront because trying to tell you the awesome moments that's in the game which makes the single player worth playing, also somewhat ruins the story. So let me put it this way, if you love FPS and looking for a good story but with Call of Duty's Veteran mode annoyances (at least on Homefront's hardest difficultly) than you will love this campaign.
With that being said, lets move on to multiplayer which in my opinion is were Homefront shows its true greatness. Homefront offers 3 multiplayer modes (in a sense), which are standard TDM that you would find in any FPS, Ground Control and Battle Commander. Ground Control is similar to Battlefield Bad Company's game mode Rush, but with a twist. Instead of just one team attacking and the other team defending, there are 3 points on the map which both the USA and KPA must capture. On the left hand side of the HUD, there's a bar labeled KPA and USA with 2 boxes next to it. The more points you control, the faster that bar fills up. Which ever bar fills up first, that team wins the round and gets one of the two boxes filled in but the game moves forward. If your team wins the round, you push the enemies back opening up a new part of the map with 3 more points to capture. If the enemies win the first round, they push you back opening up yet another part of the map. So when playing Ground Control it feels like you're playing 3 maps in one, which is great because you won't always see the same part of the map since it depends on who wins the first round. Battle Commander isn't really it's own game mode which is why I said 3 multiplayer modes in a sense. Instead Battle Commander adds on to the existing game modes but in a unique way. Battle Commander works similar to Grand Theft Auto's wanted system. You get X amount of kills, you get 1 star. The more kills you get, the more stars you get, but there's a twist. For each star you earn by killing enemies, you get a benefit. On foot, you might get your ammo replenished, a flak jacket, or even a personal permeant UAV sweep. In a vehicle you might get more damage dealt, instant repair, or quicker cool downs for your weapons. However for each star you earn, the more enemies are alerted. For 1 star, 2 players on the other team will get a yellow circle on their radar indicating the area of your position. At 4 stars there might be 8 players with that yellow circle, but at 5 stars the entire enemy team knows your position and will try to take you out. If they do, you loose all your benefits and the player gets bonus BP for killing you.
BP -Battle Points- is what really makes Homefronts Multiplayer stand out, and stand up with the big boys like Battlefield, Killzone etc. For every thing you do you get BP. Killing, capturing objectives, assist, revenge kill, saving a teammate, you name it, you get BP. Each preset but customizable class has 2 purchase slots that you can assign to buy when ever you want, as long as the BP is present. If you want a nice little Parrot Drone to spot enemies for your teammates, or ammo resupply, personal thermal goggles or UAV sweep, or even a white phosphorus air strike all you need to do is hit Up or Down on the D-pad. What makes this system so great is it can change the tide of battle real quick. Someone might have enough BP to spawn in a Apache and start bombing your team left and right, to the point where you can't capture objectives because you're to busy worrying about dodging the Apache. Then all of a sudden your teammate pulls out a Rhino Drone by using his/her BP, locks on to the Apache and shoots multiple rockets taken it down quickly. That situation right there only requires 2 players, one for the Rhino drone, and one for the Apache. Now take that situation add in another 30 players, all killing each other spending BP to get cool vehicles, drones, air strikes etc and now you have an idea on what Homefront's multiplayer has to offer.
Homefront also has an ability system, which is similar to the "perks" in Call of Duty, but no nearly as bad trust me. Instead of picking 3 perks from a set, you get points. You start with 4 ability points, and at level 25 gain an additional point. Each perk has a number assigned to it. So Grizzled, which gives you more XP cost 3 points. So now you only have 2 points left over, which can either buy you two 1 point abilities, or one 2 point ability. There is no limit either, if you want 5 one point abilities the game doesn't restrict you and lets you mix and match how ever you choose unlike Call of Duty for example. The ability system also applies to the vehicles (there are abilites for drones, but assigned into your infantry class) classes. So when you spawn in with an Apache or Tank, you can make them have a higher top speed, turret spin faster, passive repair etc. Some people might be thrown off by the ability system thinking it's just like Call of Duty, but it's not. You don't have to worry about getting knifed from 20 yards away, or having a rocket launcher hit the wall 50 feet behind you but you still die. Thankfully Kaos did a great job a balancing the abilities making it an even playing field.
Homefront doesn't offer the biggest selection of gun as there is only 13 of them, however each gun has it's own unique feel to it making you actually want to try other guns instead of finding one you like and never touching the others. Same thing goes for the maps, there are only 8 maps (on Xbox, 7 on PC/PS3) but at the same time, the maps are pretty decent in size and since the BP system really changes the gameplay you don't feel like "Oh this map again".
Like I said before, Homefront's multiplayer is where the game shines and is enough of a reason for any FPS fan to give this game a try, but it isn't perfect. While there isn't much wrong with the multiplayer, but there are it's annoyances. Remember those invisible walls I talked about in the single player? Yup, they're there in multiplayer on the same types of objects. Also there tends to be some pop ups, at least on the 360 version of the game. I had a situation in the Suburbs map (The 8th map on 360) where a guy was crouched behind a table and I shot him with an entire clip, but nothing happened. As I ran over to the player a white board popped up in front of him that didn't load because I was too far away. So while I was thinking I was shooting him the whole time, I was really shooting a white board. I've seen this happen multiple times where I'd see a enemy in the distance and when I aim down my sights, an object would load in front of him. Now this isn't something that's a game breaker because it only really happens in maps with tons of objects like Suburbs or Cul-De-Sac, but it can become annoying if you're wasting ammo on an object that won't appear because you're to far away. Another thing that's really a big issue for me is the map cycle. As stated before, there isn't a lot of maps, but I don't want to play the same two maps over and over. Sometimes I'll play 3 different maps in a row, but most of the time it's the same 3 maps cycled over and over. Those 3 maps depend on what the maps are for that lobby, so the 3 maps might be different if you leave and join another room, just don't expect all the maps to be cycled equally. The game has almost been out a week and Kaos has done a great job at expanding its servers and the online has zero lag, but the party system still needs to be fixed since it can be a pain to get into a match with more than a few friends.
Overall Homefront delivered for me. The single player is short, but a definitely worth a rental if you're not a multiplayer type guy. If you are though, this game is a must buy. The multiplayer is high addictive and isn't the same old FPs you're used to and will keep you playing for a long time.