Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Jeremy Jastrzab
21 Mar, 2011

Homefront Review

360 Review | It's almost like this could ACTUALLY happen...
To compete with the Halos, the Call of Dutys and the Battlefields, a first person shooter must do something different. And this year, there is no shortage of ambitious shooters, as Bulletstorm threw out the rulebook and the upcoming Crysis 2 looks to eat out your wallet. Homefront from Kaos Studios tries a different approach – the story of an ambitious alternate future. Unfortunately, for all that Homefront has going for it, it displays the age-old adage that it takes more than an idea to take on the big boys.

On the surface, Homefront has one of the most ambitious and interesting premises for a wartime first-person shooter in a while. Set in a fictitious 2027, a Korea unified by Kim Jong-un (now known as the Great Korean Republic) has spent fifteen years building East Asian alliances and the biggest military force in the world, as economic crises and war tear apart the rest of the developed world. In the midst of civil unrest, the Korean People’s Army invades the USA. Following a band of freedom fighters making their way to the invasion point in San Francisco, Homefront tells a micro story of rebellious survival within the macro scenario of a country suffering the wrath of a ruthless dictator.

And it’s a reasonably well-told and well-directed story (average and clichéd dialogue aside). The characters are likeable enough, but what Homefront does really well, is powerfully depict the horrors of invasion and war, while contrasting it against small, quaint comforts. From the oppression of the invaded, to the jingoistic retaliation, there is no ‘**** yeah!’ glamorisation of war (though the protagonist has an awesome guardian angel). What Homefront doesn’t do well is utilise its remarkably well-written and researched back story. Despite being accompanied by a prequel novel and being written by acclaimed author, John Milius, the game never really takes advantage of the amazing scope on offer. Which is a shame given how uncannily plausible the story portrayal is.

Ground troops might be in trouble.

Ground troops might be in trouble.
Close
As a game following a rag-tag set of freedom fighters, the Homefront campaign is a good ride. It mightn’t have the polish or panache, it mightn’t have utilised the scope as well as it could, but the campaign is actually very well paced, well-directed and has a few moments that will make it memorable. Homefront doesn’t really dare to try anything too drastic, as it follows a fairly stringent script and there aren’t any real deviations from the FPS formula (e.g. carrying two weapons at once). That being said, there are a couple of features that help the game stand out across the seven missions.

The weapon set is fairly standard, but the quality of guns makes up for it with great automatics, devastating shotguns, piercing snipers and earth-shaking explosives. None are new, just really well implemented. The addition of ‘Goliath’, a remote-controlled regular-sized war vehicle, is great for variety, and will come in handy for some tough situations. While things start off fairly low-key and sedate, there is a really good progression curve that takes you through a number of highs and lows, culminating in an intense battle across a major American landmark.

Overall, what Homefront does really well is provide the player with a suitably varied experienced; transitioning between these variations happens quickly and smoothly enough to make sure that you’re never out of the action, but still managing to avoid ‘going through the motions’. You’ll switch between quiet stakeouts, sniping missions and lengthy skirmishes all through a nicely varied set of locations. Another plus for Homefront is that it has one of the best tuned set of shooting controls, especially for a console shooter… though the movement controls can come off more clumsy than they ought to.

Those large shining death towers could be a problem.

Those large shining death towers could be a problem.
Close
Homefront does a good job of displaying the horrors of war, interspersed with the small comforts; this is achieved through good cinematic direction as well as the ‘Voice of Freedom’ broadcasts. However, the depth of the back story is betrayed by being glossed over too much, especially through the poor use of the collectible newspapers. These are fantastically written but can’t even be viewed after being picked up. Other aspects that don’t favour Homefront include an overly simplistic design at times. As such, there is a lack of polish exposed, most prominently highlighted by erratic AI. When it all works, you genuinely feel like you’re on a battlefield for your life, but these moments can be ruined by errant stupidity – such as your team mates shooting a crate, rather than the enemy behind it, or friends and enemies running directly past each other.

Regardless of the campaign quality, something bound to invoke the ire of gamers is the length of the single player. Clocking in at around five hours, many are likely to dismiss the game on the face of this. This is a little unfair, as it’s not the length that’s the real downer, but the ‘ending’. Rather than delivering a ‘complete’ experience, it pretentiously ends as if it were the first episode in a mini-series. Sure, the cost of development probably demands some franchise entrenchment, but it’s not a good look when a game tries something like this before it’s truly established. Disappointingly, the game doesn’t grab hold of the opportunity to rekindle one of the most iconic and memorable moments of gaming history

Thankfully, a rather solid multiplayer component supplements the short campaign, as has been discussed in these two multiplayer previews. Refer to these for more detail, but suffice to say, any prior technical performance issues have been essentially allayed, while any new ones coming up are being swiftly dealt with. Overall, the modes and twists to the multiplayer formula, such as the ‘Wanted levels’ and dynamic battlefields do enough to keep any competitive player interested and provide a good alternative to the norms. The biggest issue though is that the multiplayer is being overrun by snipers. Some uninspiring maps and lack of balance fail to discourage this behaviour. It would be a shame if this issue chased off prospective players.

So just WHO is the enemy?

So just WHO is the enemy?
Close
In an age where titles such as Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 spoil a player’s visual sense, a lot of the mail will tell you that Homefront isn’t a looker. Sure, it struggles to compete with the top tier, what with low details and the lack of cutting edge, many seem to conveniently forget that Homefront is remarkably smooth to play and that issues such as wonky animations, are a fault of the AI. The art style is hit and miss – hit with the near future representations of anything technological and miss with aspects such as the Korean Army uniforms, which are disappointingly in-distinctive. The soundtrack, on the other hand, hits the mark remarkably well. Often intense and brooding, the mood is well realised and reflected. The voice work handles the plain dialogue well enough, with the ‘Voice of Freedom’ standing out.

If Homefront was to pave the way for a new set of shooters that looks to ambitiously and cinematically explore themes such as alternate yet uncannily plausible futures while providing fast-paced, sharp controlling and endearing gameplay, all would be forgiven. The pretentious cliffhanger, the lack of polish and experience, the innovative but deficient multiplayer and weak use of excellent back story would be seen as the stepping stones to creating top-lined shooter experiences. As it stands, Homefront still is an enjoyable game that manages to distinguish itself from the crowd, but a lack of ‘completeness’ means it will likely get lost in the impending glut of high-quality shooters.
The Score
Homefront does enough to be an enjoyable and memorable ride, and enough to distinguish itself. Given everything that it had going for it though, Homefront could and probably should have been much more. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Homefront Content

Homefront backstory trailer
16 Mar, 2011 Hell on Earth.
Homefront launch trailer
13 Mar, 2011 Do you think Kim will like it?
Homefront Preview
11 Mar, 2011 PALGN fronts up for some multiplayer hands-on time.
16 Comments
3 years ago
Crysis 2 looks to 'eat out my wallet', eh?

Was that intentional, or just some kind of freudian slip? icon_razz.gif
3 years ago
I'm pure, innocent and naive... so I have no idea what you're talking about icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
I have been very disappointed with the outcome of Homefront.
I was quite looking forward to playing it, but from everything I've read I just can't justify a full price purchase.
I may pick it up in a month or so if it drops to $40 on ozgameshop, play it and then trade it in.
3 years ago
multiplayer is very fun and well worth the money imo
3 years ago
Smashed through this in an afternoon over the weekend and I somewhat enjoyed it. Biggest letdown had to be the way the story actually played out, I never felt that it had captured the scale of the story at large - and as the review stated, the ending leaves much to be desired.

Multiplayer is fun enough, though the map design is quite bland and ill balanced. Many servers I played on were full of snipers who would camp to build up enough points to unlock the use of the attack chopper and then consistently rocket spam the battlefield. One plus I found was that unlocks in this game happen a lot quicker than they do in some of the other shooters out there so you feel like you're accomplishing something a hell of a lot quicker than you would in comparison to CoD.
3 years ago
I'm not really interested in the multiplayer aspects of this title, personally. I think I might rent it to play through the story. It looks really interesting.
3 years ago
el_supraman wrote
multiplayer is very fun and well worth the money imo
I cannot alow myself to agree with that, they promised us AUSTRALIAN DEDICATED SERVERS, to this day - 5 days after release not a single server is available for consoles.

Campaigh is shorter than a ticks pube...

RichieT23 wrote
have been very disappointed with the outcome of Homefront.
I was quite looking forward to playing it, but from everything I've read I just can't justify a full price purchase.
I may pick it up in a month or so if it drops to $40 on ozgameshop, play it and then trade it in.
^^ yep, do what hes doing.
3 years ago
5 hours is about the same as every other FPS title in recent years, Hell even some in not so recent years.
3 years ago
i like short campaigns, it means i actually see the end and remember the story as a whole...

anyway, kimberley is spot on, its kinda detached from the actual "war" and its more like an occupation/survival game until the end...

... but yer definite rental material
3 years ago
vanquish was quite short without multiplayer. Same with other games like prince of persia and they rated a lot higher than this and were never blasted as much as this game even though its obvious they put a lot of effort into the multiplayer. If you only want to play single player than rent it and finish it in a day or two, but if the multiplayer looks interesting thats when buying is a consideration. I also believed game was filled with snipers etc but you learn your way around it. Also ground control with battle commander works very well and other than angel island snipers are not as bad as in team death match
3 years ago
Seriously, why make fps games so short?
Is it something to do with the development time or something?
3 years ago
I enjoyed the single player well enough, but the multiplayer was seriously lacking polish; snipers are hideously overpowered, most of the maps seem as if they were ripped from the bottom of the Halo 3 Forge barrel and...it's just empty. I had serious problems finding a server with more than 5 players on it at one time.

Oh, well. At least I have my hat.
3 years ago
Ken_Gooner wrote
Seriously, why make fps games so short?
Is it something to do with the development time or something?
They try to condense spectacle into one tight package, so it feels like a fast paced adrenaline rush. Problem is you're burdened with the fact that you need to pull it off REALLY well, otherwise the game is crap. That and escalating development costs reduce the amount of time they can put into the campaigns.

It's why I have a boner for the original Crysis. While if rushed it was a 7-10 hour game, you can spend over an hour on some levels because of its non-linear approach to objectives and such. It gave you the option of going full blown adrenaline rush, or slow paced and long lasting.
3 years ago
I had a go at SP and for while I was in stitches laughing at how bad this game is. The intro is hilarious!
You would hope the MP is 1000 times better because after the funny wears off the SP is just crap.
2 years ago
Played this over the weekend.. less than 4 hours was the time it took to go through the entire single player campaign. With all the hype, I was hoping for a lot more than that. I don't buy these games for the multiplayer, it wasn't really touted as a multiplayer game.

While the production quality of the single player campaign was good, it was no better than some of the Valve Software stuff that's come out over the years. It was great gameplay and I enjoyed it immensely.. then it just ended... just as it was getting really good.

If you disregard the 4 hour playtime, it definitely deserves a 7/10 but the fact that you getting the "THE END" screen just as you start to really enjoy the game has to knock off a point or two for me.. I wouldn't waste money on this game.
2 years ago
I'm with light487, I was really enjoying this game. It was heaps of fun and just as you are gearing up for a massive fight, the game went and did a Halo 2. I was bloody furious.

Here's hoping that the recently announced sequel by Crytek / Free Radical really takes what has been laid here and cranks it up to 11. I'm thinking Crysis without aliens in the USA would be pretty sweet.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/4DU

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  24/03/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Year Made:
  2011
Players:
  1

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.