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Homefront, with its gripping premise and well-orchestrated battles, is all about ambiance and emotion. This is a great starting point for a new series, and if Kaos Studios can fix some of the minor issues, Homefront could potentially topple its well-established competition.
- Highly emotional and exciting battles
- Terrific depiction of a war-torn America
- The multiplayer battle points system makes for epic competition
- The A.I. creates in-game frustration
- Multiplayer could use additional modes
- Graphics are fairly muted and quickly become bland
(continued from previous page) ...American rebels. There are some moments where you and your small group of Resistance fighters must sneak stealthily through the countryside and other moments where you have to run headfirst into bloody gun battles. The action is fast, intense, and always pushing the envelope of what players can mentally withstand.
The single-player story, penned by John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn), features a small cast of largely forgettable characters. It follows a small group of Resistance fighters based in Montrose, Colorado. Nearly all communication is down, thanks to a Korean satellite, and much of the west coast of the U.S. is fully occupied by the Korean aggressors. You play a former pilot who is recruited by the Resistance.
The gameplay is extremely basic for a first-person shooter. There’s no solid duck-and-cover system and hit detection has some issues. You can crouch behind objects, but you won’t lock onto anything. You can, of course, stand up and pop-off a few rounds, but you can’t peer around walls or shoot from behind cover. The basic gameplay doesn’t kill the game, but it makes it fairly lifeless. Luckily, the variety in level design and pacing help the game flow.
The biggest problem with the gameplay has to do with the poor A.I. Your teammates constantly get in the way and provide more of an obstacle than actual assistance. The story is told through in-game dialogue (don’t expect any crazy and flashy cinematics) and if you happen to get too close to characters during these set pieces, you are going to get pushed out of the way. These issues carry over during combat. If you are crouched behind cover and a teammate is behind you, they will not get out of your way when you try to dash away from an oncoming grenade. This is a basic problem that could have easily been addressed, and hopefully it will be fixed in the inevitable sequel. But the entire campaign is filled with frustrating moments caused by your teammates.
These problems are non-existent in multiplayer, thanks to human companions. Homefront’s multiplayer is quite a bit of fun. The gameplay elements are just as basic as in the single-player mode, but there is one unique component to in Homefront that feels fresh. The battle points system allows players to acquire different perks, including vehicles like tanks and helicopters, by killing opponents or meeting various objectives. This allows players to save up points through the course of one match and hop into a tank to blast away enemies, likely changing the course of battle. It’s a refreshing take on perks and the system has great promise.
During my review time with the multiplayer system, I ran into a few server problems (THQ notified reviewers that this was to be expected). Still, when I wasn’t shut out of a session, the servers seemed to handle full 32-player combat extremely well. There are essentially two different multiplayer modes — a classic team deathmatch and Ground Control, an objective-based control mission. In addition, once you reach level seven, you can join Battle Commander missions. These are the same style as deathmatch and control, but include a battle commander that provides different objectives. The six maps offer only slight variations from one another. The maps carry the themes from the single-player campaign, but the overall multiplayer experience loses the emotional power seen in the story mode.
Vehicle combat in Homefront’s multiplayer is a joy. There are some vehicles that require two players (one to drive, one to shoot), and you can even pilot a helicopter. Since everyone can save up points to use a vehicle, battles often get hectic and intense. I hope to see more maps and modes in future downloadable content, because what's on offer presently will get stale quickly.
Homefront is not a flawless outing, but it’s a terrific first step for Kaos Studios and THQ. ... (continued on next page)