I’ve been excited for Homefront for a long time. Ever since it was revealed at E3 2009, I’ve been cheerleading pretty hard for this game. With a story penned by none other than the man behind Red Dawn, Homefront offered a truly visceral take on a speculative world where the United States is invaded by Korea and places like San Francisco become occupied areas for re-education and forced labor camps. Sounds scary, right? The premise alone sold me on this game, and Homefront certainly delivers on its promise to send you on an emotional ride through an alien-yet-familiar vision of war-torn America. However, that’s about the only thing it delivers on.
When I first started playing Homefront, I was immediately drawn in. The game’s opening act is powerful, thrusting you into the realities of living in an occupied state. I won’t spoil anything here, but just know that the game definitely earns its “M” rating within the first few minutes, and you can expect some seriously brutal moments in the first hour of gameplay. The game’s view of this speculative world is uncompromising, and you can expect brutal violence, not only towards your brothers-in-arms, but towards women and children too. In the world of Homefront, no one is safe, and the game’s opening moments do a great job driving that point home.
However, once the game gets going, the story evens out, and the game settles into a generic checkpoint-to-checkpoint story that uses the occupation as a simple plot device to transport the player to a new setting. Though the game throws in some gruesome images to punctuate the story, by and large, the game ends up feeling like a paint-by-numbers FPS by the end. And unfortunately, even though the gameplay got a little stale after awhile, the ending comes way too soon.
I’ve complained before about games being too short before, but Homefront really takes a brief story mode to the extreme. With only seven chapters to the story mode, average players will only need between four and six hours to complete the game’s story mode. And with no unlockables or alternative endings, there’s really no reason to go back through the story mode (unless you are trying to find all the QR codes, but really, the mobile wallpapers and videos are not worth the extra effort). With such a great premise, I was hoping Homefront would deliver an wide experience, but instead I got a linear one-note game that can be beaten in an afternoon.
The only bright spot here is the multiplayer. If you are a fan of XP-based leveling (like you would see in Call of Duty), then you’ll like what Homefront has to offer. There are two main modes: a team deathmatch mode and a glorified capture-the-flag mode. Though these modes feel instantly familiar, Homefront has a unique loadout system where you can either spend or save battle points by completing objectives on increasingly more useful loadouts.
These loadouts can be anything from improved guns to access to vehicles or even enemy-seeking drones. The longer you save your battle points, the better your loadout options will be, which makes for a nice short-term goal system. The intrinsic “spend-or-save” strategy that the game introduces is engaging, and trying out the multitude of loadout options adds to the multiplayer’s replay value. It’s not uncommon to find yourself completing certain objectives just to earn loadouts so you can help your team to victory, and trying all the loadouts does take some time (and some skill, as many of the premium loadouts take some gumption to earn). The game also awards you with access to more content as you level up, so there is definitely an incentive to stay with the multiplayer. Though it isn’t the most revolutionary thing you’ve ever encountered, the multiplayer gets points for being fun and for doing things a little bit differently.
Clearly, a lot of care went into the game’s design, and the way that everyday locations like an elementary school or a supermarket are portrayed in the context of a war-torn society is nothing short of brilliant. However, on the technical side, Homefront falters. During my time with the game I encountered numerous technical issues, including framerate slowdowns and jumping animation. The game also features some repetitive character animations; it’s frustrating to see the same animations over and over throughout the game’s five-hour campaign.
What upsets me most about Homefront is that it is such a missed opportunity. The game is by no means bad, and if you go into it expecting a generic shooter, then you’ll come out of the experience satisfied. However, with all the hype surrounding the game and all the pre-release excitement, I expected something more than a technically proficient shooter. Nothing about this game is really terrible, but nothing about it makes you want to grab your best friend and tell him to check it out either.
Homefront is a game that will please most people. It features plenty of enemies, some pretty awesome locations, and a killer premise. Though the story falls flat about halfway through, and the game needs at least five more chapters to feel complete, you will have lots of fun in the short amount of time that you do have with the single player. And with an above-average multiplayer mode, you’ll have no trouble racking up some fairly good supplemental time with Homefront. Just don’t expect an epic experience, and you won’t be disappointed. And if you don’t like multiplayer, do not purchase this game under any circumstances, as $60 for a five-hour campaign is just too much.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.7 Graphics
Visuals feature a moderate amount of detail, but visual glitches run rampant and animation is repetitive. 3.9 Control
Standard shooter controls are functional and easy-to-use. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is generic and voiceovers are hit or miss. 3.5 Play Value
Story mode is far too short, but multiplayer modes are a nice supplement. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|