Homefront: Short but Fun

I bought Homefront over the weekend. I was really excited about the premise and the style of the game. Here are my thoughts after finishing the disappointingly-short single-player campaign…

Mini-rant:  First off, understand that this review is strictly about the game in single-player mode. I’m not a big multiplayer FPS fan. I like stories. In my opinion, FPS multiplayer is mostly about knowing how to exploit the map.  When you think about it, so was Pac-Man. – except the ghosts didn’t have aimbots and voice chat.  Anyway, it bores me and I’m no good at it. I do enough crap over and over and over in my life that I don’t care to do it in my spare time.  So there!  Now, on with the review.

The Gameplay
For some reason I had an incorrect preconception of this game. I don’t mean to say that the trailers lied, but I got the impression that Homefront was going to be a fairly expansive, open-air kind of game like Fallout 3. It’s more like Time Crisis.

The game is on rails, so it’s impossible for you to get sidetracked or lost but also you don’t get to explore the devastated post-invasion landscape.  There were several times when it reminded me of Dragon’s Lair.  JUMP HERE!  CLICK THIS!  DESTROY HELICOPTER!  Special weapons were conveniently located near the place I needed them.  If only real life were that simple.

But once I accepted the game for what it is, I enjoyed the HELL out of it and I wish that the single-player campaign were about two or three times longer than it is. If you’re going to plop down $60 for a single-player game, I cannot recommend Homefront. Hopefully they’ll come out with some downloadable content for it.

One thing I didn’t like about the gameplay was getting stuck on things you can’t see unless you look almost directly straight down.  Basketball goals are an example that come to mind.  They have those support arms on the bottom part of ’em, ya know.  Can’t see ’em unless you’re looking down, but they’ll stop you dead in your tracks.

Here’s something else that was disappointing: After the introductory shoot-out, you’re brought to the resistance fighters’ camp where you can walk around and chat with various members of the resistance.  I’m thinking “Oh, cool, these are the people who will send me on missions and will upgrade my gear and stuff.”  Nope.  Too much RPG thinkin’ there.  There are around five people in the camp you can interact with, and you can chat with ’em about three times each.  And they all basically tell you to piss off.  Then they’re completely unresponsive.

Side note: The Helicopters
While I enjoyed the ground combat aspects of the game, I have to say that flying the helicopter was tedious.  Controls are sluggish and you’re limited to a very low flight ceiling.

Like many games, enemy helicopters are treated like flying tanks.  You need a special weapon to knock them out.  They’re used as mini-bosses, naturally.  Pro Tip:  In real life, helicopters really don’t like it when you huck golfballs into their intakes.  I always keep a sack or two of them in my trunk for emergencies.

Side note 2: The Goliath
Something that immediately made the game a little less plausible for me was the Goliath: an unmanned armored combat vehicle that acts as a deus ex machina in several situations.  What breaks it for me is that it seems automated in ways it probably wouldn’t be, but not automated in the ways it should.  For instance, it seems to be capable of driving itself just fine, but it relies on the operator to select targets visually.  Seems odd.

Story, Characters, Dialog
The game is set in 2027, and the United States has been invaded by a unified and increasingly imperialistic Korea.  John Milius, the guy who wrote the screenplays for Red Dawn and Apocalypse frickin’ Now and Conan the frickin’ Barbarian, was involved with the story and writing.

For me, the events leading up to the invasion (as they are depicted in the game’s trailers and intro) are plausible but just this side of uncomfortably plausible.  But then again, I didn’t think anything like the current unrest in the Middle-East would happen, either (especially Syria).

The dialog mostly relates directly to the task at hand, and it’s not as corny as it could have been considering how action-oriented the game is.  You don’t really have enough contact with the characters to judge whether or not they’re fleshed-out.

That being said, the very first few minutes of the story were pretty damned gripping.  The story and dialog never completely devolves into cheesiness, but the story aspects of the game weren’t as compelling after the first few levels.  And it ended very abruptly.

The Style
This is a game that really had potential.  Actually, since updates and sequels are so easy these days, I should say it has potential.

They managed to make the environments appear run-down and as if they’d been through a war without crossing over into HalfLife 2/Fallout 3 levels of devastation.  I wanted to roam across the shattered land and find new adventures.  I really wanted to see what the designers vision of a big city would look like during a modern war.  Also, they did a superb job on the music, ratcheting up the tension as only a game on rails can do.

The bottom line is that I enjoyed playing Homefront.  I just wish there was more of it.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Joe on March 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    good review on ya, mate!

    if this were the old days, i’d be hitting you up to borrow your copy to install, since it doesn’t sound like it’s really worth $60 … as it is, guess i’ll just wait for a steam sale …

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