I was really excited to do this Homefront review. Even though I am a huge Call Of Duty fan, and I still think that when it comes to FPSs, it is the platinum standard for overall gameplay, Homefront is no slouch by any means. Call Of Duty is no longer leaps and bounds above its competition. Additionally, that remaining gap is closing fast. Homefront proves that you can have an FPS that is highly realistic, while still being fun to play. When I saw the amount of advertising muscle that THQ was putting behind Homefront, I was worried. Normally companies do that to try and prop up a title that isn’t that good. I’m here to tell you that Homefront doesn’t need it, and that it is more than a worthy addition to your FPS collection.
Homefront’s opening sequence is one that you won’t soon forget; it’s powerful, disturbing, and haunting all at the same time. The game starts in the year 2027. Korea has unified and currently occupies the United States Of America. A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. Crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic. That very idea is hard to wrap your mind around, let alone the events you will experience as the game progresses. The thing that makes Homefront’s story so compelling is that you never feel like they are trying that hard to make you feel any kind of way…you just do.
The single player campaign is as good as any I have played in recent memory, including Call Of Duty. The game clearly sets up the context of what is going on and gradually fills the player in their role. From a gameplay perspective, Homefront has everything you can ask for out of a first person shooter: good controls, good weapon variety, and for the most part a good pace. The folks at Kaos Studio really hit the nail on the head when it comes to gunplay. In lots of other FPS’s you can shoot someone in the head and they keep coming. In Homefront, you can consistently drop your enemies with one well aimed shot to the head. That same concept applies to any other place you shoot them. The amount of damage it takes to put an enemy down seems very reasonable, unlike the exorbitant amount of ammo it took to drop most enemies in Killzone 3. As the player, you are not immune to the rules. You can be dropped easily as well if an enemy gets you in his sights. Some people won’t like this, but what Homefront teaches you very quickly is that this is war and that is no joking matter. It’s kill or be killed. You can try and run off gun blazing if you like, but you won’t last long.
Another strength of the game was the intelligence of the A.I. The enemies in Homefront are smart and methodical, but still unique. For the most part you will be fighting against the Korean People’s Army (KPA), but there is a section of the game where you won’t. It would have been easy for the team to use the same A.I. tendencies for both groups, but they didn’t. The KPA are highly trained. They move in waves and use suppression fire to cover their movements and unlike enemies in some other FPS’s we have played, they won’t stand back and wait for you to come to them. They are also pretty good shots, which is unlike other games where the enemies couldn’t hit the broad side of a building. To sum it up, these guys can drop you from distance. The thing that Homefront drives home over and over is that you are a smaller force matched up against an enemy with overwhelming numbers. More times than not, a smart and methodical approach will win the day over that cowboy stuff you normally can get away. The net result is that in Homefront you realize the gravity of the situation you are in, and you will find yourself taking far less risk than you would in other games. One of the most refreshing things about Homefront was that they didn’t make it about any one person. There is nobody that is the focus of your aggression. You are angry with the KPA as a whole. An enemy force has wronged you and they all have to pay.
All in all I found myself very satisfied with Homefront’s single player campaign. When it came to multiplayer, I was even more satisfied as it’s actually really good. All of our MP gameplay for this review was pre-launch, so we’d have to assume they were making tweaks that affected stability, but even then it was still more stable than lots of games I have played at launch. That said, I don’t think online stability at launch will be an issue. Once you got into a game, it was fast and responsive. After being killed, you’re drop into a match with an over the top view of everyone’s position so you can start deciding where you want to go before you hit the ground. There was a good bit of variety as far as the different match types available, and your ability to customize your loadout. I actually like what Homefront has done with its perks. Perks are tied into something called Battlepoints (BP), and not killstreaks like Call Of Duty. The result of this change is that people who are good, but not great players, can still get to do some really cool stuff now and again, which I think keeps a good balance in the game.
I don’t really play FPS multiplayers for long outside of COD, but I think I will be playing Homefront’s for a while. The maps that were available were similar in size to what you would expect. To be honest I had a blast. There are even a place for you snipers out there. In other FPS titles, snipers would be considered campers. In Homefront however, I felt like they were a tactical necessity to keep action on the battlefield balanced. Sort of like counter-snipers (though people will still camp of course). I definitely prefer Homefront’s MP over Killzone 3 or even Battlefield Bad Company 2, which I know a lot of people really enjoyed. There are a lot of other nuances to Homefront’s multiplayer that I won’t get into so you will just have to experience them for yourself. Ultimately, it will come down to your preference, but I would find it hard to believe people won’t enjoy the multiplayer in Homefront.
Overall, Homefront is one hell of a new IP that I look forward to playing for a long time to come. Homefront is not without its faults though. In the single player campaign, often times you will have to follow someone. The problem sometime is that they won’t go anywhere, which gets frustrating. There were also times during the single player campaign, where the game places you in situations where you will undoubtedly get killed the first time. There are lots of blind spots that I didn’t quite feel were necessary. As far as multiplayer, there wasn’t much to complain about except for the fact that the game spawns you right behind an unsuspecting enemy more often than it should. It’s an easy kill for you, but something that shouldn’t happen, which should be fixed with a patch. Additonally, I felt like Homefront could have used a proper cover system. You can crouch and all, but it’s just not the same. The game could have used a better melee system as well. Compared to what you could do in Killzone 3 for instance, it’s pretty vanilla. I think that Homefront has firmly put itself into the best new IP of the year conversation with this showing. For finding just right balance of old and new when it comes to FPSs, we give Homefront 9 out of 10.