Homefront is the latest shooter from Kaos Studios and THQ. In a highly competitive first person shooter market, Kaos has done an outstanding job in creating a memorable shooter that is in a class by itself. The storyline in Homefront is what sets it apart from every other shooter out there. There are a lot of shooter titles out there that will have you fighting in some far off land. It is a pretty rare thing when you have a shooter that uses a real world locale and Homefront is by far the best shooter to do it yet. Instead of fighting in a fictional, far away land, you are fighting at home. The tagline for Homefront is “Home Is Where The War Is” and that point is immediately driven home the instant you start the campaign and find yourself in a tattered apartment while you see innocent civilians being killed in the street.
The year is 2027. The Greater Korean Republic has invaded U.S. soil and taken everyone by surprise. They conquered Hawaii first and then invaded San Francisco. An EMP blast from a Korean satellite has fried every piece of electronic equipment in the United States. As you are dragged from your apartment at the beginning of the campaign you will immediately notice how bad things have become. The KPA (Korean Public Army) are performing atrocities everywhere you look. You are thrown into a converted school bus that is now being used to transport prisoners to detention centers. It isn’t long before you are rescued and this is where the game really begins. As you progress in the game you will bear witness to unspeakable acts committed by the KPA as they try to hunt you down. You’ll have to fight through suburban neighborhoods, popular retail stores and, basically, everything you identify as “home”. Even though the EMP fried everything, there have been a few people that have repaired some items, such as radios. In between stages you will hear radio broadcasts from the “Voice of Freedom” who is informing all the American citizens listening of your progress and urging them to help the resistance in any way they can. Kaos has done a great job here reaching an emotional level that most shooters don’t get to. I absolutely loved the last level of the game and thought that it was a great climax to the story. With that said though I do want to see what happens next and that is where I am hoping that Homefront turns into a franchise because I would love to see what else Kaos has in mind.
The only thing that I would change about the game is adding a cover system. It would have been nice if Homefront featured a proper cover system where I didn’t have to be completely in the open to shoot at someone. Having the ability to lean around a corner during some of those huge firefights would have helped a great deal. The scenery and set pieces in Homefront look fantastic. There were a couple of instances where I would just stop and look at the environment for a few moments because it looked amazing. Homefront also features one of the most memorable stages that I have ever played in a shooter. I enjoyed that level so much that I am going to go back and play it again as soon as I am done with this review. As a matter of fact, I can forsee myself playing this game for a long time. I fully intend on going back and trying to beat the game on the hardest difficulty. That is a rare thing for me to do too as there isn’t even a handful of shooters where I will put myself through that. In that regard Homefront has made a pretty elite list for me and that is one of the biggest compliments that I can give to Kaos Studios.
Of course, the story is only part of the game with the multiplayer also bringing some new concepts to the table. You can play the Homefront multiplayer either over Xbox Live/PSN or over system link. One interesting new feature that Homefront has is the battle point system. Battle Points act as the currency in the multiplayer and you will accrue them based on how well you are playing. The battle points system is very much a risk vs. reward system. If you have a tank barreling down on your position you can can quickly spend 250 battle points on a rocket launcher to try and defend yourself. You can also use battle points on flak jackets, drones and much more. The selection you have will be dependent on your loadout. As you progress through the round you will be gaining a good amount of battle points. What you have to decide is whether you want the instant gratification of using the points as soon as you get them or whether you will be patient for a bigger payoff down the road. As I mentioned above, you can use battle points to purchase that rocket launcher. Or you can save all of your points up until you have enough to buy a helicopter. When you get killed you get a choice on how you want to respawn. If you have enough points you can purchase a helicopter and then respawn into said helicopter and immediately start raining down death and destruction upon your opponents. It is a pretty cool mechanic that could potentially change how the battle unfolds, if you use it wisely.
I know that one of the things that the development studio wanted to really focus on with the multiplayer was large scale warfare. With that said Homefront features up to 32 person multiplayer, with dedicated servers. There are four different modes to choose from with traditional team deathmatch, Ground Control, Battle Commander (ground control) or Battle Commander (team deathmatch). Team deathmatch is pretty self explanatory while Ground Control is all about an evolving battlefield. In Ground Control, when you first start out, there are three locations that you need to control. You will battle it out with the opposition as you both try to dominate a specific location. Once the round is over three new areas will be chosen and you will have to make your way across the map and try to do the same thing with that. The team that wins the game will be the team that wins two of the three rounds. If the KPA wins the first round and then the USA comes back and wins the second round, the KPA is forced to retreat to the original three locations and try to prevent those from being overtaken. It keeps the flow of battle flowing nicely and it changes the map(s) up a bit so that you aren’t always fighting in the same spot. Next is the Battle Commander modes. These modes offer up some different types of gameplay as you will have an A.I. battle commander helping to coordinate your team. In Battle Commander every player starts with a one star rating. As you progress in the round you have the possibility of getting to a five star rating based on how well you are playing. If you are on a huge kill streak then the battle commander might give you a mission to accomplish, such as taking out five more enemies, for example. As you acquire more stars you will get more bonuses. At the same time the opposition has a battle commander as well. If you are completely dominating then the opposing battle commander might give his troops the specific mission of taking you out. It will classify you as a “Priority Threat” and, depending on your rank, you might have the entire other team coming after you specifically. ”There are two different types of Battle Commander modes with one of them being under team deathmatch rules and the other under Ground Control rules. The game ships with seven multiplayer maps to choose from with the Xbox360 version having eight thanks to the exclusive “Suburbs” map for Xbox360 gamers.
Overall, Homefront is a fantastic game. It was one of my most anticipated titles for the first half of 2011 and it didn’t disappoint. Kaos has created a great shooter and, hopefully, a great new franchise. For those who haven’t done so you should also check out the Homefront novel. I finished reading it before playing the game for this review and it helped me understand some of the back story for the title. The novel covers the events before the game and it gives you the origin to the “Voice of Freedom” among other things. If you are a fan of the first person genre than Homefront should be in your collection. It is a breath of fresh air in a genre that tends to recycle the same old thing. In Homefront, home is indeed where the war is. Will you join the resistance?
- Great innovation in multiplayer
- An entertaining storyline that hasn't been done countless times
- No cover system
Summary: Homefront is a breath of fresh air in a genre that tends to recycle the same old thing.
- Format: Xbox 360/PS3
- Developer: Kaos
- Publisher: THQ
- Release Date: March 15, 2011