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Review: Homefront

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It is the year 2027 and the economically crippled USA has been invaded by Korea and the citizens are literally fighting for their lives.

This battle-ravaged scene is the backdrop for new first person shooter Homefront from Kaos Studios.

Players assume the role of  pilot Robert Jacobs who is rescued from the North Korean People’s Army (NPA) by a group of resistance fighters. 

We are first introduced to Jacobs as he is bundled onto a bus and driven through a neighbourhood already overrun by NPA soldiers.

Glancing out of the windows players can immediately see the visceral and shocking events unfolding around them.

As the bus trundles on we witness parents gunned down in front of their screaming child, men and women lined up against walls and executed and others being marched off to prison camps.

Homefront shows visceral and shocking scenes of backwater USA overrun by Korean invaders

Scenes like this and other atrocities discovered further along in the game invest us emotionally into the game and give an extra reason to play on.

As Jacobs is shuttled away we see another truck speed towards the bus and ram it suddenly and turn our world upside down.

After Jacobs is plucked from the wreckage by the US resistance fighters, we discover there are pockets of Americans trying maintain their way of life amid the carnage.

The goal for Jacobs and the rest of the freedom fighters is to get to San Francisco where the US is struggling to maintain control.

The game’s controls are virtually identical to that found on the world’s most popular first person shooting game Call of Duty.

This is a smart move when you consider the bulk of Homefront’s audience will likely come from the huge ranks of players who’ve already played COD so they can pick this up instantly.

As a shooter it is smooth and responsive with a great selection of weapons to use. To ensure the game doesn’t get too repetitive the missions offer variations where players have to sometimes remain undetected rather than taking on the enemy head on.

Homefront battles are not waged on major battefields but in the suburbs

Other levels see players flanking the enemy to destroy sentry cannons and clear a path for your friends with a sniper rifle.

Players also get to climb aboard a few vehicles and even a helicopter but these are only used fleetingly to break up the shooting action.

The level with the helicopter was frustrating with awkward controls and the ability to hit the side of a cliff without inflicting any damage.

This part of the game slowed Homefront almost to a stop at a time when the story should have begun escalating towards the climax.

A favourite weapon was a remotely controlled armoured vehicle called Goliath which could clear a path by locking into enemy targets like helicopters and missile launchers and destroying them.

The AI (artificial intelligence) lets down Homefront a little both with the enemy and the members of your own team.

One weapon in Homefront is a remote-controlled armoured vehicle called Goliath

Enemy soldiers often took cover and re-appeared exactly in the same spot making them easy to pick off in the easy and mid difficulty levels.

But the most frustrating AI was on your own side with the other characters running into walls and not allowing your character to pass them.

And because players have to follow these characters to carry out the mission it sometimes slowed down the pace of the game.

There was one moment when we had to wait a minute before the player we had to follow decided to climb down a ladder into a tunnel. Of course we couldn’t proceed until they did and at times we wished we had a control to smack them on the back of the head to get them to move.

Part of the appeal of the game are the scenes of a devastated backwater USA where the war against the NPA is waged against the backdrop of destroyed shopping centres, strip malls, schools, baseball stadiums and suburban streets.

Homefront reaches a climax with an epic battle on the Golden Gate Bridge in San FranciscoNot major battlefields but literally in the USA’s backyard. The only major battleground is the game’s climactic battle on San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge.

The campaign runs for about six hours and offers an enjoyable story and characters.

What reinforces Homefront is the impressive multiplayer mode. While it’s not going to knock off Call of Duty of its perch, it adds a fun add on we found surprisingly addictive.

Players are able to level up and customise weapons attachments and even take control of various vehicles around the maps.

Speaking of maps we found them too big in the multiplayer matches and we spent most of the time trying to get back towards the enemy’s location.

Homefront is an interesting first person shooter which stand out from the corwd with one of the most emotional and immersive stories presented in a long time.

It’s an above average shooter which serves its purpose to help players stay engaged with the plot and the characters while multi-player mode adds even more value to the package.


Rating: MA15+

Platform: PS3, Xbox 360

Three and half stars (out of five)

About Stephen Fenech

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