Homefront was a title I had been looking forward to ever since John Milius was attached as a writer. Milius, who for those of you that don’t know, co-wrote and directed the 1984 action flick, Red Dawn, in which a group of young people-turned freedom fighters resist an occupation of the United States by Soviet aggressors. Given that credit alone, Homefront should have been amazing. So, I redeemed the PC review code sent by the always friendly folks at THQ press relations and began my play.

First thing I noticed was that Homefront did not support the ultra widescreen resolution of 5760×1080. Most modern shooters have no issue with this resolution, even if the menu screens get a bit wonky but Homefront was having none of it. So, I selected 1920×1080 and set the visuals to their maximums. This is not a showstopping issue, by any means, but was bothersome at the time. Anyhow, time to join the resistance!

To sum up the very intricate tale of the United States’ decline and North Korea’s expansion, it can be simply said that due to a hodgepodge of catastrophes, the US was left severely weakened. Having to turn its back on the rest of the world, North Korea slowly began a series of expansive movements which greatly strengthened their position on the world stage. In a bold maneuver, the now united Korea launched a massive EMP attack on the crumbling United States which decimated the power grid on a nation-wide scale. As the country fell into anarchy, US forces attempted to keep order – that’s when the Koreans launched a full-scale invasion.

At the start of the game, the United States is largely occupied by Korean forces and the player is being sent to a prison camp to mine for ore. The resistance movement liberates you because of your history as a trained pilot and your adventure begins.

Visually, Homefront is a very attractive game, utilizing a modded Unreal Engine 3 for its visuals. It should be noted that the PC version of Homefront was not developed primarily by Kaos Studio but was outsourced to Canadian developer, Digital Extremes. Despite a strange ‘shimmer bug’ where non-interactive objects periodically flash, they did a great job with the game’s graphical elements. The PC version supports DirectX 11 and first-person cockpits.

The game audio is excellent, with the sounds of a large-scale conflict always looming around you. In some sequences, when you are in the wreckage of a city, the sounds are more intimate – maybe the grumbling of Korean forces as they harass civilians or even chat amongst themselves about the current situation or their ‘great leader’. Voice over work is very good, with a believable cast of actors providing some visceral performances.

Homefront’s gameplay is of the contemporary FPS fare, being akin to Call of Duty: Black Ops in its frenetic pacing and sudden action elements. The player will usually be accompanied by a small team of resistance fighters and both friendly and enemy AI is responsive and adaptive. Unfortunately, the gameplay of Homefront on the PC does have some challenges. First, and foremost, is that the overall player controls feel wooden and unresponsive. It feels more like you are controlling Frankenstein’s monster than an agile human being. For the weapons-fans out there, you will note a surprisingly large number of armaments being carried by the game’s combatants – all of which can be wielded once dropped. You can carry two primary weapons at a time, so choose carefully as all weapons do not share a common ammo type.

By far, the single biggest issue with Homefront is the length of its singleplayer campaign. At the standard difficulty level, I passed it all in a scant THREE HOURS. This is simply unacceptable in a modern video game. Digital Extremes added a lot to the multiplayer modes, but this franchise was sold to me and a lot of other gamers on the promise of its campaign… Which comes up short, literally.

Despite the wooden controls, what story and narrative there is is actually fun. Combat tends to unfold quickly and has a lot of interesting set pieces to play with, like a TigerDirect.com store, Hooters, and even a White Castle. There is also a multitude of homages to John Milius’ previous film work in the game – one which cracked me up hard the first time I saw it. When in Utah amongst the crazy masses residing outside a large wall built by the Koreans, you encounter this farm complex. In the center of this complex you will find two farmers/soldiers pushing a ‘wheel of pain’ a la Conan! The Wolverines reference is much more apparent and on the nose.

Homefront’s story is full of mature situations and death – as it should be. It takes an unflinching look at an occupation by openly-hostile forces not at all concerned with the Geneva Convention. Parents are shot on the street in front of their crying children, Korean soldiers are tortured before being executed, and there is even a mass grave scenario. It is such a shame we only get three hours of play here. The climax at the end of the game is so awfully-setup as a segue into a sequel, it is jarring and leaves you feeling ripped off. If a game is meant to have a sequel, you need to leave fans feeling like they got their money’s worth enough in the first game to shell out even more cash for the follow-up!

Overall, Homefront is a fun game that should definitely be experienced… as a rental. Don’t pay $60 dollars for a three hour game – doing so is not fair to gamers at large as other game companies will soon follow suit unless there is enough backlash. Homefront is a tragedy – so much potential and great setup with so little to show for it. I am left confused and bewildered at the whole experience. I wanted to be in a resistance force against the Koreans. I was hoping to see some more tactical gameplay. I was hoping to see four more hours of game time!

In closing, kudos to THQ and John Milius for putting so much effort crafting an awesome game backstory. We hope that next time you give us a lot more game with which to explore it.


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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com