Homefront has more issues than my psychotic, schizophrenic, alcoholic ex-boyfriend. Yeah, he seemed nice. He was very smooth and lots of fun... at first, until you dated him for a bit. The gameplay in Homefront is great. The controls are smooth. The game is indeed a cross between the shooting of COD and the fun of the vehicles in Battlefield, with some awesome little drones thrown in. Unfortunately THQ and Kaos apparently had my ex-boyfriend beta testing the PS3 version... and my ex-boyfriend has issues... and no friends.
For the PS3 version of the game, the party system is simply broken. You can party up with people, but the game will rarely actually launch you into the same game and insists on launching the party members into separate lobbies that are ironically waiting on more players in order to launch. When you finally give up on the party system and just try getting into a game, you can spend up to 15 minutes or more trying to get into an actual game. Whenever I get in a lobby that is waiting on the needed number of players to launch I've never actually seen one launch. Ironically if you are patient and spend the time waiting, you will be kicked for idling... which pretty much ensures that the game will never launch. They apparently have a masochistic matchmaking system that wants to ensure you suffer... kind of like dating my ex-boyfriend.
There is a private game option, which would be perfect for FNF games. You can create a game that is joinable by people on your friend's list (or friends of your friends, or people in your party) but this game is not hosted on the dedicated servers and is hosted by the person who created the game - which tends to mean one word... LAG. Again, it seems that if they are going to do dedicated servers, they should have allowed people to create a private game on said dedicated servers, similar to what Resistance and Killzone 2 did. Frankly I just don't understand why devs are so enamored with the concept of matchmaking systems. I honestly don't know of even one gamer that prefers this system over the old lobby system where you can choose what game to join . Sure they often have stupid titles like "pros only" or "girls only" (yeah, right... those games are almost always a bunch of drunk guys hoping that girls will actually join so they can harass them!), but at least there were the fun titles like "Free Beer" too! (and for the record, this is the server the girls join, not the "girls only" one!). The thing is, you could generally join a game of your choice and it was easier to join friends in a game. Instead of using the simplicity and proven history of a lobby system, devs instead want to ensure that we're all going to date my psychotic ex-boyfriend who wants to play mind games with you rather than just let you play the damn game. Masochistic matchmaking seems to ensure that you get screwed around and teamed up with a bunch of schizophrenic, alcoholic losers in a lobby that will never launch.
Just like my ex-boyfriend's drunken decision to call my Mom at 2:30 in the morning and whine about how he still loved me, the game also made a poor decision when it came to restricting the Battle Commander mode to those over level 10. The very best part about Battle Commander is it evens the playing field for n00bs. Higher level or more skilled players will get targeted by the AI Battle Commander and they get marked on the map with a bounty on their head (though they also get some minor perks to offset this). Snipers are a tad overpowered in the game (though there are multiple ways to counter this) but at least in the BC mode, some sniper on a camping killstreak on some remote hill will easily get marked for extinction. I am already seeing some level 50/60 players in the game and there is no incentive to move up to the Battle Commander mode when they can simply pick on low level, newer players in the standard modes. I have to wonder if the devs were drinking with my Ex when they made this decision. Battle Commander should have been the standard mode... and the non-Battle Commander modes should have been for higher levels. As people progress up the ranks, unlocking better guns, getting to know the maps better, it's going to become increasingly difficult for new players who buy the game late. This could so easily have been prevented..
A patch was issued less than a week after release... and like Charlie Sheen going to rehab, it initially seemed to work. Homefront was well behaved, I could play with my friends, and there were no PS3 freezing issues. Unfortunately, and just like Charlie, this didn't last long and a few days later the matchmaking system has once again started snorting stuff up it's nose, drinking alcohol and sleeping with sluts while falling flat on it's face and puking up garbage but claiming to be awesome. If they ever do get a working patch for this game, it will be a solid, fun game... but right now it's just too much frustration and work trying to get into a game - and the worst part is that this could so easily have been prevented with some form of more open beta testing.
Lessons learned from Homefront:
1. Do a beta on all platforms using actual gamers.. not internal testers working under idealized conditions (with apparently no friends) .
2. Devs are not good matchmakers... quit trying to be. Don't ruin a potentially good game by making it so damn difficult to get into a game or play the game with friends.
3. Think like a real gamer... one who might not actually buy your game on release day but might actually buy it a week later when everyone else is a level 70, and who won't have fun getting pwned until they rank up.
4. Previews of an MP game are often done onsite at the dev studios and contain an idealized picture of what a game plays like... but rarely includes a true picture of what the game is like on launch. In this case, Homefront is a fun game, but the matchmaking and party systems are totally broken and this was overlooked in many previews/initial reviews. The same held true for COD, Warhawk, MAG and other games that launched with issues only obvious when larger numbers of players are playing. Don't believe the previews you read on game sites for multiplayer games... instead check out the games official forums on launch day to see if there is a litany of complaints and people wanting their money back.
4. Don't buy this game until a working patch is issued and the game drops below the $30.00 mark (or less).
5. Don't date my ex-boyfriend (or Charlie Sheen).