Homefront Review

Platform: PS3/360/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2011

Whereas Bulletstorm felt like a breath of fresh air, Homefront is in serious need of some Tic Tacs. It comes with a fresh idea, no doubt, but it’s the implementation of this that is way past its sell by date.

The concept behind Homefront is undoubtedly the game’s strong point. You play a resistance soldier fighting the war on the front line of North Korea-invaded America. It’s a great concept harrowingly realised through a brutal opening act where a bus ride through Colorado passes by citizens being beaten, parents being shot in front of their screaming children and piles of dead bodies strewn across the previously peaceful streets.

The concept gives a great sense of purpose to the warfare and it definitely feels very cool to take down evil commie bastards in the middle of suburban America, with action spilling into supermarkets, baseball stadiums and even theatres. Unfortunately the game spoils this in a number of ways.

Firstly, whilst having a good concept, the game’s story is actually pretty shallow. Despite being penned by John Milius, acclaimed writer of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn, there’s surprisingly little meat on the concept’s bones. The dialogue is your usual modern soldier ‘oorah’ affair, with most conversations revolving around ‘go there and shoot that’ orders.

The supporting characters are incredibly clichéd and one-dimensional, and there’s just no character development on offer. There are no specific marked targets; no evil commanding officers or officials that needed to be taken out. It’s just one grunt after another. Even the sense of humanity seems to be lost as the supporting cast lament the death of a single comrade, conveniently forgetting the immense loss of life on both sides of the fight (a lot of which they are responsible for).

The poor development of the core concept could be more forgivable if the gameplay stood up, but it simply doesn’t. Activision must be fed up of all this CoD flattery, especially as Homefront uses exactly the same control system. Sure, the action takes place in some interesting environments, but poor enemy AI means the game very seldom feels like much more than a shooting gallery. Get cover, pop out, shoot and repeat.

Naturally with poor enemy AI comes poor NPC AI as well. The game tries its best to hold your hand but most players will find it more often ends up the other way round. You’re always tasked with following your commander, but almost all the time you’ll race off and be waiting for him to catch up. This is annoying enough, but when your own squad constantly gets in your way and blocks you off from cover in the middle of a fire fight you’ll quickly start to think you’d be better off on your own.

The various, though somewhat limited, objective types give the impression that the game mixes up the gameplay, but in reality they are little more than lite versions of set-pieces we’ve seen countless times before. On the ‘been there done that’ list you may tick off: a sniping mission, a battle on a major US bridge, a helicopter escort mission, firing heavy artillery on targets, and on-rails minigun sections. Your t-shirt is on the way.

Graphically the locations look pretty good, but the character models are distinctly lacking that current-gen shine. It’s a real shame as Homefront is obviously a game that could have been fantastic, but it seems that developer inexperience in the FPS genre has let it down.

A lot of gamers out there will be magnetically drawn to most FPS titles that come along and in that case, Homefront will definitely serve as a quick excursion away from CoD. The game suffers from poor AI, a lack of fresh gameplay ideas and sub-standard graphics, but has a good enough concept and multiplayer to be worth a brief, if slightly unfulfilling, look.

Alex Aldridge

GRAPHICS

Locations look OK, but nothing spectacular (some are very brown) and character models are pretty poor.

7/10

GAMEPLAY

Works well enough, but is incredibly well worn, generic and offers nothing new or exciting to the FPS genre.

6/10

STORY

The concept is fascinating and gives real purpose to the game, but there is no character development and the dialogue is also pretty unimaginative.

7/10

REPLAYABILITY

Single player has little to no replayability, but the multiplayer is well implemented and offers enough difference to both CoD and Battlefield.

6/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

The multiplayer is pretty good, but the overall package doesn’t feel fresh enough to pay full price for. Worth a look after a price drop or if you simply can’t get enough FPS action.

£20

OVERALL

A game with a good idea that falls flat when you actually come to play it. Overall, Homefront is pretty standard fare and belies a genre growing fat with an oversaturation of generic titles such as this.

6/10

OK

 

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