Kaos Studios and THQ have teamed up to make Homefront, a futuristic shooter, all that it can be. Kaos Studios outsourced the PC version to Digital Extremes who are responsible for ports of Unreal Tournament games and Bioshock. How does this game stack up to the other big name releases from the last year?
The scene is America 2027. Leading up to 2027 Kim Jong il supreme leader of Korea dies and his son takes over reign. He unites North and South Korea which become the Greater Korean Republic. The new Korea forces neighboring countries to surrender. Ground war breaks out in America and Korea takes most of it, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. You are the resistance, you are trying to stop them. Your name is Robert Jacobs, a pilot that both sides of the fight want. Obviously you end up with the resistance and that is where it all starts.
To me the story was refreshing. It felt different than most modern shooters. Call of Duty has the same story line it’s had for years. This one takes a different route. This could be due to the change of setting, but even with small changes like setting it can refresh a story line and make it feel like a new experience.
Something not seen to often is the show of emotion from the characters. The characters express there emotions about what they see or hear. Especially the female in your squad that doesn’t shut up about what she sees and how she doesn’t like it. This emotion can get repetitive and annoying. That doesn’t bother me to much because at least it is there. The inclusion of emotion gets you attached to the resistance and makes you want to fight for them.
The game play honestly felt little half assed. Although running, jumping, shooting and knifing were all really smooth, there were a lot of not so smooth moments. When climbing up ladders, jumping off buildings and opening doors [just to name a few] you would be delayed. Sometimes it wouldn’t show up and I would have to repeatedly go back and forth to the ladder or hole until it would work.
On top of that, it wouldn’t let you climb ladders until your entire squad had already gone up entirely or most of the way up. This also happened when going through entry ways and trying to crawl under low spots. You would just hit an invisible wall until you moved out of the way for the others.
The battles that you start or encounter are really fun. They normally require you to shoot fast and move fast from cover to cover. It can become hard to move when two or three enemies lock onto your cover so you have to be quick. Though this is fun, Connor your squad leader always takes the best cover. If you get to the location first, you cannot continue until Connor can get in the perfect spot that you wanted. At one point I was behind a barricade trying not to die, and I couldn’t figure out why the team wasn’t advancing. Once I moved it allowed Connor to get in that specific spot then allowing the rest of the squad to advance.
Although there are some flaws, the single player offered a large variety of things to do. You got to run an unarmed tank truck name Goliath, fly helicopters, run and gun, blow the crap out of tanks, and snipe. There is a fair amount of interacting, you are able to chat with the a lot of the people you meet in the various camps and villages, and you can find “Collectibles” which are various pieces of writing and other items in which you can collect.
Although there is tons to do, the game is incredibly short. The single player portion last me just over 3 hours. People are claiming around 5 hours. I looked for collectibles and tried out nearly every weapon I could as well as dieing a fair amount and I still finished all 7 chapters in just over 3 hours. The Steam achievements have made it clear they want you to play the single player more than once by creating challenges for you. Although that may add some more hours to it, the initial campaign is just too short.
With $50 invested, I didn’t want to lose my money on this campaign, so I hoped that the multiplayer would offer something I could play for awhile.
Homefront is tied to Steam. Therefore, you mus t use your Steam account to play multiplayer. No need for a secondary sign in like games that aren’t native to Steam. That initially made me happy. I was joined by a warming menu that allowed me to pick between Quick Join, A Server Browser, The “Armory”, Leader boards, and a “Practice” option. I was really happy to see a server browser that worked as intended. Bad Company 2 on its release a year ago had a buggy server browser, Medal of Honor on release last October had a buggy server browser, and Call of Duty Black Ops, although wasn’t as bad as Medal of Honor or BC2 still didn’t have a browser that worked properly for me. I threw some settings in and clicked on a server and away I went.
There are four game modes for you to choose from, and they are all pretty fun. You have Ground Control, Team Death Match, then you have “Battle Commander” in both those game modes. Battle Commander mode is similar to kill streaks in Call of Duty. When you start off getting streaks in Battle Commander mode you will gain stars. You can get a maximum of 5 stars and as you get more stars, your rank starts to increase, you gain more battle points [the in game currency] as well as vehicles in your control regaining health and armor. Battle Commander isn’t just one sided though. As you get higher kill streaks, the other team will be alerted that you are a larger threat and hence you will become more wanted as killing you will grant them more battle points. It is really kind of a cool feature.
In the Armory, you have different load out options t hat you can mix and match weapons and rename if you want to. You have purchase slots, which you can add equipment to use like air strikes, or drones. To use the equipment though you need to have sufficient battle points which you earn by completing objectives and killing the enemy.
You also have infantry abilities, which are exactly like perks in Call of Duty Black Ops. They allow you to take more damage, carry more grenades, and a lot of other things, but you can only pick two.
After you play a game it will go into a lobby with a intermission time similar to match making systems except you are on a dedicated server. This allows you to see everyone’s points from the previous match as well as change load outs or view leader boards. They even give you the option to veto the map if you happened not to like it.
One thing I didn’t like was you didn’t have the ability to change your pistol, frag grenade or knife. They were presets to every infantry load out that just can’t be changed. Also in the armory, you have the ability to change vehicle load out. They have the same type of options as infantry, but different contents of course. The ability to change vehicle load outs means, if you were to hijack a vehicle or see one coming at you, you have no idea what it may contain.
A lot like Bad Company 2’s medals, and Call of Duties achievements, you can gain awards for doing certain things with certain weapons and vehicles. This pushes the user to use a lot more weapons than they normally would.
Of course I can’t forget about the maps. All the maps are pretty large and provide a lot of cover. Some of the maps to me feel a bit cluttered, like there is almost to much stuff from me to the enemy. Having all the cover does change the game play tactics quit a bit. You can not rush out into the open and fire away as you will literally die in two to three shots no matter where you are hit. Dieing is extremely easy, and you must be quick on your trigger. The maps felt like they were designed to slow you down. Take it slow and watch your corners and you can do well in the multiplayer.
On top of a decent online multiplayer, there is a LAN option. That is great news for everyone who wants a modern game to play with there buddies at a party or convention. This will definitely make the multiplayer last awhile longer in my opinion. Most games these days do not have LAN options.
I wanted to save the graphics portion for last as it will go for both single and multiplayer. They are mediocre. We have all seen better graphics out there in the last year but that doesn’t mean they are terrible. Some areas like the weapons have amazing detail while others like people are kind of scary looking. I also noticed when a vehicle, person or even your gun are near a wall, you get a weird shadow effect. Like the color of your gun is bleeding through almost. It is something strange and obviously not supposed to be there.
Homefront’s campaign reminded me a lot of Half-Life 2 although it was super short. The multiplayer felt like an experience I haven’t gotten in a while. A healthy cross between Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops. As for the graphics, they were on par with most of today's games, but could have really pushed the bar. Upscale graphics on this game could have made an amazing visual experience. The landscapes and cities just begged for it.
If you really want a different multiplayer experience, then it might be worth the $50 but I feel it would be better at around a $35 price point with the short *** campaign.