I have tried to like Homefront – ever since I saw videos of the game I thought that well, it is a bit like COD, it is a bit like other shooters – what’s not to like? Let’s keep that last bit in our minds shall we?
Homefront does in the opening one thing right – and another thing wrong. It starts out in an apartment, and you are about to get collected by Korean troops. The premise is that Korea is now a superpower, have united, launched an EMP satellite thingy and took out most of US military and then invaded. Logical – not really -but hey – we are gamers – we been through worse! So they knock on the door and you start to get a bad feeling. The first bad feeling is the controls. You move like a guy who shat his pants a few days ago and now they are so stiff he can actually only move forward by bending his knees and feet. After awhile I can open the door – I can’t do much else because fear no.2 just struck. This is rail-roading. And I am not even talking the Yellow brick road here. We are talking about the one rail – doors, spaces and places locked from access until someone has spoken or the camera has done its job rotating or one of your really annoying AI buddies has moved there first or not.
I’m now collected and the complete little troop of shat-in-pants gets on a bus. All over the place you see the horrible effects of Koreans shooting and beating up people and families. One one corner I see two parents shot and a small kid running after the execution crying to his dead parents. I am now really itching to get a gun and shoot me some Koreans. I guess this is the feeling they want and this they do good. The story – apart from unlikely, at least compelling.
I get a gun – and I don’t want to shoot no more
Yeah, the bus gets hit by Le resistance and jolly go round – you get your less then obvious AI buddies. A Latino women who has some serious problem with her ass. You see plenty of it, and you start thinking about what the modellers used for reference while doing this character. Her friend is a psycho – bad guy run of the mill bad-ass American hero with a perfect solution for all Korean sort of problems. Shoot ’em all! From now on – I have to listen to dreary stories and move bouncy asses around the backyards of a picket-fence suburbia to football stadiums etc and shoot evil Koreans. So lets stop here and considering the shooting. My first gun is a Beretta – I fire it and the sound is actually nice, the controls are however all but smooth. It feels like there is a acceleration on,n but there isn’t. Regardless of how I tweak both game and mouse – it is either too slow or way to quick. The problem exists with the next gun, the good ol’ M4. When shooting, I can’t go for other then clear areas – all else seems to be out of target. A small wire-frame with enough clearings in it protects like an old 80’s film. Only when they pop up their heads is it OK to shoot. Problem is that the AI knows where you are – all the time – and they shoot damn well too. Well, lets just state that the shooting isn’t all that fun. It is worse then COD games, it is worse then MOH games, and it is worse then CS, and well a lot of games that were developed for PC’s. Something is just off.
I don’t feel like following you no more and go out to fight
I tire after some time, the compelling story isn’t so compelling after it hits the head in a crammy built – this is how evil forces do and have done forever and we are going iron-clichéd on your ass here! So, I do what most people should have done three hours ago – skip the single player part and head into MP. It loads up and I get an intro film telling me what to do in the game. Interestingly enough – it is a game type that I thought I had filtered out – I wanted to try TDM and got into Battle commander. A man tells you where to go and concentrate yadda yadda. I get in chose on of the pre-defined classes and runs. Yeah, here I am suprised, my character actually can run. Cool I think and after having a few lucky incidents I think that Homefront could actually be a MP game at least. The MP part is at least competent – but only for awhile. We start with the basics. The game modes are run of the mill – nothing really new or surprising. You have classes alá COD and you can equip cooler and better gear after levelling up – making the beginning a pretty bleak fight to stay alive and hitting easy targets to find some cool gear. After getting points – you can then chose to spawn into the game with either a class alone – or a vehicle that you drive. If you are good you can come back from death in a tank – thus adding serious fire power to your team. This is a nice addition and tanks are frightening – if you don’t have any means to fight them. You have – and they are worth hunting with glee for the points you get. Well you get it – it is a basic get points and XP to get all the goodies, which means that if you are stuck in a sucky run – you will most likely stay that way. There are kill streaks, and you have two spots to buy in some equipment with for yourself. This is all very standard yet with a twist and the best thing with Homefront MP.
Unfortunately, the other really important thing is however that the shooting is as uninspiring as in the SP campaign. And the maps are really boring. I’m sorry to say but they are boring, and the best class is either full auto for close in or sniper. All in between suffer greatly at most maps. Snipers are also very deadly as is the entire game. It is very easy to kill someone from sometimes extreme distances and you will see the “waiting to re-spawn” message a lot.
Homefront suffers greatly from bad graphics and not used correct. It is not ugly per se, but the character models aren’t that great, the faces and people in the SP campaign looks very dated in graphics and a lack of shine and polish feels apparent on most environments. Take COD BLOPs for instance that is very crisp and clear or foggy depending on different settings. They have snow maps that really feels like Blizzards, desert environments etc. Or take Battlefield BC 2 – who has a load of variety as well – and it also feels much more polished and easy on the eyes then Homefront. The sound is OK, mostly though from the weapons that have a metallic clang to it – but it is a bit over used and the guns sounds like they are toys with added sound effects. It is OK, no more. Controls are not that great either, the control settings should be basic PC controls and it does the job, but lack of getting the mouse correct makes or breaks a shooter. The set-up options are great – this is how most games should look like. You can tweak most things and you can change the FOV and effects etc. Problem though is that it doesn’t do you that much good. On a good rig with a brand spanking new graphics card, you don’t get all the bells and whistles and when reducing the bloom effects and flare etc that is annoying in MP – what’s left is really a 2D feeling I haven’t seen in a game for a long time. And this design decision isn’t to my liking.
Graphics: 12 – It is not bad, but it is ugly and a bit disappointing.
Sound: 15 – the sound that is is OK, almost good, but not used to a benefit in the entire game and the lack of ambient sounds, positional etc makes it miss a ‘Good’.
Game-play/Story: 8 – It is a frustrating journey with a rail-road of Mr Shitty McPants and his lame AI’s. Poor design choices for the story and the quests and lack of satisfaction in the crucial game-play makes it no fun to play. I couldn’t finish the short SP campaign – even though I reinstalled and gave it another go. I just couldn’t. The story is compelling to begin with – but sounds more and more like something Tom Clancy would have written on older days. Nothing really new and while settings etc in US are the Red Dawn feeling (very compelling to some it seems) it does nothing to change the setting and challenge the 1-2-3-4-5 – Big End at all. In a modern shooter where you can’t shoot through half inch wooden planks with a 7.62 full metal jacket bullet? Not very good for the feeling or setting. After BLOPS and BFBC2, someone jumps a corner and you spray the thin walls. Here the bad guy does the 80’s and stands behind the corner not even breaking a sweat. While you on the other hand, moves forward to solve the quest and takes cover behind a huge pile of debris and think rubber tires and steel, you get shot from all kinds of impossible angles and your AI buddies screams for you to advance… No thank you Homefront.
Controls/Quality: 15 – Controls are unsatisfying as well. Even though we have a lot of things to tweak and adjust, it doesn’t really do anything. This game should have switch set-up controls with Crysis 2… One thing though – I haven’t encountered many bugs – but they make-up for that with giving us plenty of poor design choices. However, this is not a port game and the plenitude of adjustments to make deserves a higher grade then what you can do. The settings aren’t the problem, the problem is what the settings tries to adjust.
Many might think that this review is unjust or even harsh – but considering that a game goes all AAA on us with heavy marketing and delivers so poorly – and not by being buggy – which could be patched or as they call it now a days – DLC’ed away – you can’t really do much about it. The game doesn’t get any better and for paying a full price for this game on STEAM – made me rather angry – no it made me really furious and by checking the #Homefront on Twitter – I realised that I was far from alone. There are people who likes this game – I’m just not one of them, and many seem to play it on console then. I haven’t tried it on console, nor do I want to. My only suggestion is to get the game if you don’t own any other modern shooter with classes or teams. If you want to play it for the Red Dawn inspired story -wait until it is on winter sale on STEAM or hits the bargain bins. Or even better – try to find Red Dawn on DVD… I wouldn’t suggest anyone to go for this instead of Battlefield Bad Company 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops. I haven’t tried the latest Medal of Honour – but friends tell me MOH is the better choice.