2011 Retrospective: Homefront Review - September 3rd 2011

With each new installment in the Call of Duty franchise realism takes a blow to the head and inches ever closer to the cliffs of madness. What started as "Man that turret! Repel the Nazis!" soon turned to "Survive a nuke!" and "Discuss your amnesia with Ed Harris!". It's still devilishly playable, granted, but as a player it's getting harder to stay emotionally involved.


That's where Homefront comes in. If you are anything but emotionally involved in its story of Korean military might invading mainland USA and rampaging through middle America, sending schoolteachers to makeshift concentration camps and blowing up - gasp! - Hooters restaurants, you clearly have no soul. Or are not American.

While Homefront hardly sets a new standard in gritty realism, its story is grounded in very real western fears and events in the campaign are designed to provoke. Being punched square in the face by a Korean solider; getting manhandled onto a prison bus and driving you past the execution of a mother in front of her small child - such incidents spur you on not through wow-now-I-have-a-snowmobile-and-I-just-jumped-a-gorge excitement, but sheer indignant rage.

The campaign, although short, does have quite a few shocking moments.

That rage won't last long, however. The campaign may be packed with memorable set pieces - a hurtling truck toppling your prison bus and sending passengers flying an early highlight, providing sniper support from a church tower a later one - but it's all over in little more than six hours.

But the campaign is only the first offensive, Homefront taking a second swing at the current FPS kings with its broad multiplayer offering. Like Black Ops it bombards with player rewards, addictive to grinders and those without jobs, and like Bad Company 2 it has humvees, tanks and helis (some drivable, most not), but sadly it falls short of both games.

With a mixture of wide open warfare and close quarters combat it's got plenty of variety, but shooting feels light and unsatisfying, and levels are bland and featureless. While still involving, in reaching for the stars it fails to completely satisfy in both regards as much as it's two tightly focused competitors.

Graphically, Homefront isn't going to win any awards.

Online and off, however, don't dismiss Homefront outright. Its story is packed with memorable moments, recalling the best parts of John Milius' Red Dawn (who had a hand in development here) and its multiplayer, while not especially deep, is perfectly madcap and engaging. Altogether now: ''WOLVERINES!''


Ben Griffin

 

Gameplay:

An enjoyably varied campaign, but shooting has been done better.

Audio:

Booming explosions and the crack of a firefight are, expectedly, loud.

Graphics:

Rough. Lovely lens flare, though.

Longevity:

The usual 6-hour campaign you will never return to is bolstered by an iffy but playable multiplayer.

     

Final Score:



Successfully emulating COD and its skittish campaign, and bringing vehicles to the multiplayer fire fight, Homefront is a blast of warm (if not necessarily fresh) air.

 

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