Homefront was among my favorite games on the xbox 360, and while it certainly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, can it’s next-gen sequel, Homefront the Revolution improve it’s fan base.
You begin controlling Ethan Brady shortly after joining the resistance, after a short intro you briefly meet the hero of the first game Ben Walker, you’re separated and this set’s in motion the series of events leading to you getting your head kicked in because you can’t speak, and being given a pretty nifty pistol that quickly converts into a SMG.
After meeting a few other characters, your so far linear experience opens right up when you take on your first major mission, the first half is by numbers shooter which is sadly below par on quality thanks mostly to some dodgy stuttering issues when objectives are loading through, and an awkward loading screen which breaks up the intro and left me wandering why I couldn’t be dragged down the hall for an extra 30 seconds to mask such intrusion.
But, about half an hour in, all is forgotten because the world opens up, your sent off to find a transponder and after grabbing a nearby motorcycle, I weaved through the streets and alleys narrowly missing a few groups of gaurds who then followed me to a nearby building,
As they gathered outside, I threw out a Molotov and cleared up the stragglers with an SMG, at which point I decided.. While far from perfect, Homefront is a good game.
Graphically it looks pretty damn good, some character textures are below par, but the overall feel and atmosphere is perfected with a gritty appearance and a perfectly suited setting, So It’s pretty annoying that regular freezing issues tarnish an otherwise smooth game, which except for the occasional drop in frame-rate (which doesn’t effect the enjoyment of the game) seems to run perfectly in busy moments then slows down when there’s something menial such as an announcement that you’ve come across a new area full of bad guys, this is down to a dodgy auto-save system, which kicks in with every mission, area, gun or mod purchase and occasionally, just for the hell of it.
With a large world full of derelict buildings and factories to work through there’s a lot to load on the fly, But If they can put a loading screen slap bang in the middle of the intro sequence of events, surely they could have implemented a brief loading screen as you progressed from one district to another to minimise the auto-save freezes rather than trying to restrict them to when you die in a world that’s packed with action, to the point there’s so many frozen moments in open play.
Audio is one area I’ve not got many complaints, voice acting is perfectly fine, gun fire sounds heavy and powerful and in game music and ambience is spot on, I’m not so keen on the menu music, but that’s my fault for sitting here listening to it for half a hour, but whether it’s the chatter of nearby enemies, resistance fighters (which can each be recruited to help out on your travels) or some of the main characters you’ll come across, there’s always something in your ear with my only criticism being the inpatient key characters when your approaching an objective too slowly.
The Story runs along nicely and there’s a decent variation between the three difficulties, no matter what you’ll need to watch your step, but on easy you can stroll through a smaller confrontation, with hard meaning you’re having to be careful of every other enemy and the standard setting falling nicely in between.
There’s plenty of variation between districts and tasks, when your stumbling through the first few hours, you do start to get the impression the Koreans have the upper hand, their weapons are more accurate and the drones and explosives they have take some time for you to obtain, although that’s an added incentive to clear every area or side mission rather than head directly to the next main story quest, this raises the bar, makes you feel like your up against the odds, and would add some welcomed depth to the atmosphere if the protagonist (Brady) was a little more accessible.
Guns are another big part of the game with lots of emphasis going into their modification, turning the pistol to a SMG< shotgun to Incendiary launcher or a crossbow into a flamethrower, there’s lots of options and it makes you want to experiment with each weapon, though due to the lack accuracy in some, I found myself sticking mostly with the shotgun for close range and the battle rifle complete with it’s Marksman and Rocket launcher enhancements.
It’s also worth mentioning the major easter-egg that’s hidden away inside an old arcade cabinet, which gives you two missions from the fantastic TimeSplitters 2, It’s a great little port and will bring back fond memories of anyone who experienced one of the greatest first person shooters of yesteryear, many people are unsure why it’s in there, maybe a nod to the studio’s roots (Free Radical, then onto Crytek UK and now Dambuster studios) or maybe there’s something massive like a TS2 next-gen port or better still full remake in the works.
Either way it’s a superb Easter Egg, almost reason enough to try HomeFront, but the two main reasons have to be campaign and multiplayer so let’s take a look at the online offerings.
The first title introduced objective based warfare, challenging teams to claim an objective which would then expand the map, this paved the way for a similar mode in Battlefield, but at the time it was new and unique.
HomeFront the Revolution sadly doesn’t have that mode, and I don’t mean the progressive maps, I mean adversarial combat whatsoever. The only online offering is Resistance mode which enables the chance to buddy up in a team of 4 and battle one of 6 co-op missions, these 10 minute stints are fun for a while but there’s sadly not enough to recommend, when games like FarCry, Dying Light and Call of Duty can offer such comprehensive co-operative options it’s a little disappointing for Homefront the revolution when there isn’t any VS play either.