Homefront is a first person shooter from publisher THQ and developer Kaos Studios. There are some nice things to like about Homefront, but after the single player campaign and a decent amount of time spent with the multiplayer, I was left wanting more. It’s an admirable first attempt with a new intellectual property, but ultimately Homefront won’t make you want to give up games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Socom (if you’re a noob).
To the developer’s credit Homefront starts off pretty strong. The beginning tells you, via news clips, that North and South Korea have united under the rule of Kim Jong il’s son and have invaded the good ol’ U.S. of A. When the game actually starts your character is abducted from his home and thrown on a bus to presumably be taken to a prison camp (even though you pass a few detention centers while you’re on the bus). During your little Greyhound bus tour through war-torn North America you will see some disturbing imagery reminiscent of Call of Duty 4's introduction. This beginning, coupled with the fact that the story was written by John Milius (co-writer of Apocalypse Now and writer and director fo Red Dawn) had me thinking Homefront could be the next big triple A FPS. It’s too bad the game never rises to its initial dawning.
First, the good. The backgrounds in the single player are very well done. I was quite impressed when my character was brought into a secret resistance camp. The action in Homefront is passable. You get unlimited sprint which is nice, and the Goliath vehicle is just all kinds of awesome. There’s lots of enemies to shoot, even if they are kind of stupid (many of them will stand out in the open just waiting to die (maybe they saw the latest Big Momma’s House movie and just decided to end it all). The only other good thing I have to say about the gameplay is that it’s functional.
The bad. Although the story starts strong, it sputters out rather quickly. There’s no real main villain. While it might’ve been tricky to make a bad guy in a game that treads on shaky ground already by (in some people’s minds) grouping and vilifying mostly all Asians, it still would have been possible. Staying in line with character development (or lack there of), I only liked one of the four main characters in the game. The leader, Boone, is pretty much a throw away character. Conner is the stereotypical “kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” hot head. The female Rianna is the most likable because she at least shows some kind of emotion and personality. Hopper, the Korean American is the biggest let down in the game in my opinion. Kaos Studios had a unique chance to create with Hopper and they failed to do anything with him. The story could’ve been so much better with Hopper as the main character so we could see how he deals with fighting for his country while having to kill people of his own decent. Seeing Boone (an African American) deal with some racism in the game and then seeing Hopper deal with even more would’ve been fantastic. Showing us how Rianna got so good at killing people and why Conner is so cold blooded would’ve been great too, by Kaos missed on all of that.
Other bad parts of the game are that there are invisible walls in Homefront (I thought we were done with invisible walls in video games like five or six years ago). The grenade explosions are surprisingly weak. While the background visuals look good, the character models don’t fair as well and many of the animations look stiff and sometimes just plain awkward. The sound effects for the guns could’ve been beefed up as well. The game is also incredibly short, so keep that in mind if you’re debating on buy or rent. Also, I started to get motion sickness from from the single player. No one else on my friends list (thanks to all of you that got back to me about this too) felt this way, so hopefully not many will be affected.
The ugly (and no, I’m not talking about Jody’s poor skills in shooters). The stealth and sniping mission in the campaign absolutely pale in comparison to the Ghillies in the Mist mission from Call of Duty 4. There’s a significant amount of graphical pop-in, and one time the game said I failed a mission/objective even though I know I completed it.
A big ugly for Homefront is the average multiplayer. There’s nothing in this mode that hasn’t really been done before. There’s the standard team deathmatch, ground control (capture and hold objectives to move the frontline and progress the battle), and skirmish (a cycling of TDM and ground control). There’s also a game type called battle commander, but I couldn’t play it because I needed to be a level 7 to access it but publisher THQ decided to go the EA route and force gamers to either buy the game new or by an online pass.
Without the pass you can only get up to rank 5. There are 75 ranks in the game. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Homefront is not a household name for gamers, and while it’s selling pretty good, it’s still no threat at all to the likes of Call of Duty, Halo, and Socom (if you’re a noob). For all the advertising THQ put into this game I would think they would want as many people playing it as possible so if Homefront was a rent this time, the inevitable sequel might be a buy. THQ could’ve gotten in the good graces with the gamers in going against the EA multiplayer model, but they decided no to do that. These types of restrictions seem like they would put off gamers that were on the fence about Homefront. Like Fir3proof’s fighting ability in Marvel vs Capcom 3, I expected more. I guess the game makers know something I don’t, but I do know Call of Duty and Halo’s multiplayer are free to gamers whether they bought or rented the game. I don’t know about you, but free is pretty hard for me to pass up.
Homefront is a decent first entry of what will undoubtedly be a full fledged franchise down the road. While the game is not perfect, it’s still worth a rent, but keep in mind if you want to play the multiplayer you will need to buy an online pass to get pass rank 5.
Some of the characters in the campaign are quite liberal with the swearing, and there are always those on online that only seem to know curse words.
This game is incredibly cheap with the achievements. I only got 240 gamerscore from Homefront. It’s possible to get more points on a second play through on the easiest or hardest setting, but the game really isn’t fun enough to warrant a second go ‘round.