- Publisher: THQ
- Developer: Kaos Studios
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: First-Person-Shooter
- Pros: Amazing story setup; great setting; some powerful imagery; Goliath; solid multiplayer
- Cons: A.I. scripting; some frustrating bottlenecks; so-so visuals; short campaign
The story in Homefront unfolds in the near future where the Korean peninsula is once again united under the leadership of Kim Jong Un and has seized an opportunity to strike the U.S. at a time when tensions in the rest of the world have it focused elsewhere. They don't just strike, but launch a full scale invasion of the U.S. mainland.
You play as a soldier rescued by the resistance in a daring attack on a POW transport bus. You fight your way back to the resistance's home base, and from there take part in a series of attacks to sabotage, steal, and generally disrupt the enemy.
The fascinating part about Homefront is that you are fighting in what could well be your own back yard. You fight through real locations like White Castle, a Hooters, and even a TigerDirect.com retail store. The setting really drives you to fight. And powerful imagery of the horrors of war and occupation that you see along the way (torture, murder, children having their parents killed right in front of them, mass graves, etc.) is just stunning.
In terms of story and setting, Homefront is amazing. Is the idea of Korea invading the U.S. really plausible? Probably not. But once you see the potential result in Homefront, reality and plausibility won't matter any more. You'll be pissed. And you'll want to fight.
The gameplay foundation is definitely solid, but there are still some issues with the game. The campaign is only about 5 hours long. It is also surprisingly difficult. There are a lot of bottlenecks where you'll die a lot, including some set between checkpoints so you'll have to replay long frustrating sections multiple times. I found myself quitting in disgust several times, though I did always come back later.
Another issue has to do with the scripting of your A.I. teammates. The game wants you to play follow the leader, pretty much, and if you don't play by its rules you can't actually advance. Invisible walls will prevent you from going through a door, or walking up stairs, or doing anything until the A.I. does it first. And if you're standing in the way, or in the wrong position, the A.I. just stands around and doesn't do anything. You end up standing around doing nothing for 30-45 seconds at a time. Not good.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, doesn't suffer from scripting issues or difficulty spikes. It supports up to 32 players in a number of modes that are variations of the same stuff you'll find in other online multiplayer shooters. The seven maps on the disc are huge and feature vehicles and helicopters to help cover the distance. There are multiple classes, along with the now standard perks and ranking system as well. Pretty much all par for the course. What sets Homefront apart, however, is the way you are scored. Individual kills and solo accomplishments don't net as much XP as working as a team. You really are rewarded for using teamwork here. If you don't, you'll be left behind. It really gives the game a different feel from other recent shooters.
Graphics are definitely a weak link in Homefront. The lighting and effects are okay, and the environments look okay from a distance. Get up close to anything, though, and you'll find super simple and grainy textures. Character models are bland and animations are stilted. It isn't a pretty game.
It does sound decent, though. The gunfire is nice and loud and crisp and sounds right. The dialogue is also mostly well done. You will hear the A.I. yelling the same things over and over and over again if you don't follow the script it wants you to, though, which gets annoying.
Homefront is definitely a decent game overall, but it struggles in a couple of key areas. The visuals leave a lot to be desired and the campaign tells a fantastic story, but is short and has strange pacing and scripting issues. The multiplayer is fairly standard for the genre, but twists it just enough to still be interesting. All in all, it is good, but not great. Because of the short campaign and too familiar multi, Homefront is a solid rental now or price drop purchase later. It is worth playing, just not $60 worth playing.