Homefront is a first-person shooter with potential that ends up feeling half-baked, but it’s salvaged by some addictive multiplayer action.
A near-future crisis in the US economy leaves America vulnerable, and a newly united Korea invades the US and takes over. What’s left is a suburban dystopia run by a harsh military contingent, bringing the fight to the western world in more dramatic stead than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
The problem is that it tries a little too hard at times to mimic Call of Duty and other modern first person shooters and gets bogged down in its own shortcomings.
The dramatic story begins from the eye of the player – a US citizen in an internment/concentration camp/slum of sorts – travelling to the camp by prison bus. Outside you witness North Korean soldiers executing civilians and all other sorts of inhumanities, but it’s all a little drowned out by the hideous graphics and stiff controls.
Up close the detail isn’t too bad, but as characters travel further into the distance they start to become pixelated because of the poor draw distance in this game’s graphics. Look too closely at a wall or blood texture and you’ll get the same problem.
Control-wise, everything runs fluidly enough, though stiff aiming makes shooting a breeze (especially with a sniper rifle) though too unrealistic to get much of a kick out of. Unlimited sprint is a little out-of-date (to match the graphics) for a game trying to push the realism with the ‘close-to-home’ war theme running through.
In terms of gameplay, it borrows a lot from other modern FPS games which means you get interspersed moments of FPS action coupled with the odd vehicle level to mix things up. Its graphical downgrade mixed with poor AI that seems intent on throwing your teammates into invisible walls lets it down into comparison to rival FPS games though.
Oh, and the campaign will only last up to six hours if you’re lucky (or if you’re just bad at FPS games)…
But it’s salvaged by the multiplayer – as limited as the multiplayer component is.
There are only two modes of play here: the typical team deathmatch and a ground control/king of the hill style game. Both can be played with up to 32 players smoothly thanks to a dedicated Australian server. Despite being limited, they’re addictive thanks to a few notable additions to the multiplayer experience.
Homefront’s blend of levelling up, perks and weapon upgrades parallel those used in Call of Duty and will be very familiar to those used to that system, but the Battle Points system adds a new dimension to online.
Giant maps facilitate person to person combat while leaving the space for Humvees, tanks, and choppers to swoop in and either hold the fort or take out scores of the other team in disastrous style. It’s sometimes disastrous for the wrong reasons though, as the game often threw the helicopter straight to the ground upon spawning, taking severe damage before even hitting the action.
Players rack up Battle Points (BP) from capturing command posts or getting kills that are spent during the game on vehicles or special weapons like drones and rockets. A few kills can garner a Humvee or small tank for the impatient, and a good run and some patient saving can spawn chunkier tanks and choppers.
The maps are suited to support these conflicts, though sometimes this starts its own conflict with the player-to-player fighting as maps are sometimes too big to be fun on foot.
Otherwise, it’s blended together well and becomes a rewarding and addictive experience, reminiscent of older Battlefield titles like 1942 and Vietnam.
Maybe Homefront is just another sign of the times as single player campaigns are pushed aside for multiplayer online content in first person shooters. It’s a depressing sign, and not one that I think can justify such a short campaign. Apart from that, dated graphics and glitchy gameplay push this FPS a few notches down the shooter food chain – and a few years down too.
Homefront is out now on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.