|System: PC, PS3, X360|
|Dev: Kaos Studios|
|Release: March 15 2011|
|Players: 1, 2-24|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
We recently got the chance to sit down with the multiplayer aspect of Homefront, and while we came away impressed, it was the single player aspect that we were most interested in. We recently attended the THQ Montreal studio opening and while there we were able to get some hands-on time with the first level of Homefront. And from what we saw, players are definitely in for a ride when Homefront releases next year.
In case you haven't heard, Homefront takes place in the speculative world of 2027, after the Unified Korean Forces have invaded the US. The game's fiction aims to present a view of war from a resistance perspective, using views that are familiar in context, but alien in the way they have been twisted. This premise is demonstrated well in the game's opening moments. When you first start the game, you are a nameless person just getting out of bed. The radio is on, and the morning show personality is giving the latest news and weather. However, the radio personality's voice is incredibly grim, and then he begins reading the news in Korean. Suddenly, a knock at the door. Korean soldiers appear, accuse you of treachery, and pack you into a bus for a fate that is (presumably) worse than death.
The bus ride portion of the game serves as an interactive cutscene where you can look left and right and get a feel for how the world has changed since the Koreans invaded. Naturally, the scene is bleak, and you'll be witness to plenty of abuses and executions in the street. There are bodies strewn across the sidewalk, and you'll see people in various forms of torture and interrogation in broad daylight. One poor soul even gets shot execution-style while the bus passes by, which leads to some brain matter being splattered on the window. These horrifying images set the tone for the game and are effective tools for getting you into Homefront's narrative. I have to admit though, there is one moment that is so harrowing (I won't spoil it for you here, but let's say it involves a child and its parents) that I had to press the pause button and take a moment to digest before moving on. I would be surprised if this moment didn't generate some serious controversy when the game releases next year, simply because it is the type of violence that you just can't become desensitized to.
Once I was off the bus, the action began. From start-to-finish, Homefront feels like a conventional first-person shooter, which is a good thing. You'll pick up weapons, throw grenades, find cover, and of course try to get as many headshots as possible. The AI was not terribly difficult to overcome, but the game puts you in tough situations where you can't maneuver your way into an easy kill, which is certainly a triumph of the level design. You won't really be able to "run-and-gun" through most areas, and the game forces you to take your time in some areas, which works well in the context of the narrative.
It is obvious that the developers want to the player to experience the world of Homefront as they are mowing down tons of enemies, and the first level shows off this aspect of the gameplay. The most impressionable part of the first level for me was definitely the setting. Even though the opening cutscene lets you know what is going on, you get a feel for the everyday horror of the situation while you are having shootouts in everyday places. The first level takes you through plenty of familiar locations including abandoned grocery stores, a backyard playground complete with treehouse (which now doubles as a lookout post), and even into a civilian's home (complete with crazed mom and screaming baby.) The setting is visceral and dynamic, and definitely is one of the most memorable parts of the game (along with the opening bus cutscene.)
The first level isn't long, but it sets the stage nicely for what should be (according to the developers) a six to eight hour experience. While the gameplay wasn't the most innovative, it looks like the story combined with the setting will make Homefront a standout experience when it releases next year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director