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Published July 16th 2012
I like first person shooters. It's a genre I have always been able to wrap my head around. I have spent plenty of solid hours on Call of Duty's many online ventures and have played many of the big named FPS of this generation.
My personal favourite shooters are able to have great game play, but a reason, a story, a plot as to why they are making me do what I am do. That is what got me excited about Homefront. The storyline behind the game is that Kim Jong IIl has passed away and his son Kim Jong Un has taken over North Korea, during his leadership he was able to merge North and South Korea to form a Unified Korea. This meant bad news for the rest of the Earth as they slowly but surely stamped their claim as the power country of the world. Set in 2027, the Korea Republic have invaded the USA and the Americans are in bad shape, it's now up to you to try and turn the tide to a never-ending war that seems hopeless and bleak.
Homefront makes you hate your enemy. This is one of the great assets of the game, from the first scene you see Korean soldiers gun down a couple with their child crying and screaming as he watches it all occur, whilst you can only watch through a bus window. I cannot recall having such an outright hatred for an enemy, the graphic scenes depicted are done perfectly to create the sense of pure hate. The scenes they show you really push home the point that these guys are heartless, soulless individuals and Kaos Studios does it very well. This plot seemed believable and was a well thought out idea, it really is scary to think this could happen and the amount of fleshed out back-story they have created is phenomenal. They have created their own little world, so many more stories could be set in this world and most likely will be.
Homefront's game play lacks in many ways, I found the cover system, well, lack-there-of really hard to manage. Pop up for a peak at your enemies and you would be shoot, pop up for more than 2 seconds and you die, simple. With no radar or HUD to speak of and the fact you are given a small amount of health, the game becomes incredibly tedious. Now this would not be an issue if the game play was solid, but it isn't. The game feels stiff, you feel slow and clunky most of the time. I found the shooting scenarios were basically just throw you into a small area, as wave after wave of enemies drive upon you. Sometime if you flank and get behind the enemy you would see the enemy respawn before your very eyes, which is quite unbelievable to believe they didn't fix this upon release.
I don't mean to sound like I am bagging on the game, it was fun. It changes things up giving you various moment as my personal favourite was the sniper sequence from a church bell tower. They allow you to ride as the gunner in a few vehicles and even a whole sequence which is chopper based. I feel as if they tried to be too "Call of Duty" like, there were numerous set pieces to deal with and although they were good, they did not seem to have the same effectiveness compared to other quality games. The enemies are smart and will flank, take cover and really push you to the limit. But after many cheap deaths from the fact I did not know where the bullets from coming from, made me think it was more of cheap tactics rather than smart AI.
Homefront is not a terrible game, it is just not great. The game comes across as nothing but an average title, feeling as if it is just there to fill up space. The story seemed great in trailers and sets up the world nicely, but I feel if you don't collect the newspapers in certain levels (the typical collectible in this game) you will feel like the story was not touched on, as much as it could have been. I loved the newspaper stories as it made the story feel real and the stories I read, seemed believable. Thought this was not echoed through the main campaign narrative.
If you are looking for a typical FPS with a cool premise, I recommend this game. It is not long with only 7 chapters. You won't get heaps out of campaign, but there is multiplayer to wet your appetite if need be. So if you have some spare cash go for it. I enjoyed my time and the last level was very memorable, to fight on the Golden Gate Bridge as a last stand effort was truly fantastic. If only the dramatic ending meant more than it did and hit more emotional strings, it might have been able to save the narrative slightly. Instead it comes off as forced and doesn't gel with the rest of the plot.
Overall, Homefront was a "good" experience and for a game that takes you for a short amount of time to complete I did have fun. Sure it has some issues and story could have been touched on more, but maybe they will learn and (hopefully) will improve on in future games within this universe.