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Homefront

 

Homefront

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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Author:

Developer: Kaos Studios
Publisher: THQ

Features

Xbox 360

Players: 1
200 KB to save game
System Link 2-16 Players
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
Online Multiplayer 2-32 Players
Online Multiplayer 1MB/HDD required
200 KB to play game
Game-Content Download
Leaderboards

PS3

Players: 1
Network Players: 2-32
1MB Required HDD Space
HD Video Output: 480p/720p
Headset
Dual Shock 3 Compatible

Homefront is a game that I have been closely following for quite sometime. Given that the story is penned by the same author who wrote Red Dawn, and the fact that it portrays America in a light not seen before, the possibilities seemed endless and I was really excited for what the game could offer. Of course given that the game is developed by Kaos Studios, the multiplayer component offered up much hope with 32 player matches and some great gameplay elements. Well, the final retail version has hit store shelves and after sitting down and playing I have to say that I am left pretty happy.

Graphics

Visually I had some concerns leading up to the final release. Early versions of the game were not as good looking as I had hoped. When I finally put the the finished retail version in my console, I was happy to see they did indeed clean it up, but to be honest I think it could have been so much more. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good, but it's just not stellar.

The highlight of the visuals has to be the design of each level and the environments you explore. The vision of a decimated USA is well conveyed. Buildings are run down, jumbo airliners are strewn about the ground given that the EMP knocked their engines out and they crashed, sports stadiums are now detainee camps....you will be amazed at how poorly Joe citizen lives in the world of Homefront. It is a great vision that was well implemented indeed as society's breakdown is so evident.

Technically speaking the game runs pretty smooth as it implements special effects such as explosions, lighting, and particle effects. The Korean foe that you fight throughout the game is easily identified and pretty well animated as are your computer teammates. Overall though, I just can’t help but think it could have been that much better. You’ll find some clipping and screen tearing that just doesn’t make sense. Given how long the game has been in development, I hoped for a little more in this area. At the end of the day I would say that the visuals manage to get the job done, just don’t expect everything to wow you.

Sound

Like the visuals, the sound effects manage to get the job done. The various guns all sound different, and the explosions manage to pack some punch. The environmental sounds are good too and there is great implementation of surround sound effects. As for the voice acting, I liked what I heard, especially from my supporting characters. You learn a lot from listening to them and all the voice actors do a solid job. As for the game’s music, it implements emotion at just the right time and helps with the overall feel of the game.

Gameplay

The year is 2027 and the world as we know it is unraveling after 15 years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources. A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. Crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic (GKR). This is, in a nutshell, the premise of Homefront. The story plays a very important part in the single player campaign as it really does present a tale worth following. You get emotionally attached to the plight of rural town America and the residents who face a new enemy that is heartless, ruthless, and just downright nasty. You join the Resistance and fight against this new enemy and so your story begins.

One thing that the single player campaign does is it shows emotion not found in many modern day first person shooters. Right from the start there are key scenes and plot points that pull you into the game at a level not usually offered. I will not give anything away, as I want you to appreciate what is offered, but what I can say is there are quite a few moments that will cause a lump in your throat and will stir emotions like never before. This is a breath of fresh air in a very overly crowded FPS market and something that I applaud both THQ and Kaos Studios for doing right.

Homefront controls like most FPS games out there, so veterans to the genre will settle right in from the get-go. Anyone new to this style of game will have no problem adjusting to the game’s control scheme given how familiar it is.

As you play through the game's various levels, you will be accompanied a core group of characters that make up part of the Resistance. You will learn who they are and why they fight. It is something that most games of this type don’t do, as it lets you identify with your cast of supporting characters. Some may find that it is not Academy Award material, but it does offer more than the usual FPS game. Your computer AI teammates do offer up some decent support as well, as you fight the countless number of enemies throughout each level. That being said, you are the work horse given that they don’t do everything for you and you have to work for your progress.

As for the enemy AI, they can offer up quite a challenge, but I found there were a number of times that what they lacked in AI skill they made up for in respawning numbers. This is one of my complaints and has been since I first previewed the game back in October, 2010. The enemies would spawn wave after wave. I was happy to see that it was not nearly as evident in some key points, but it still happens. I would rather have the AI offer up a tactical challenge than a challenge in numbers. Regardless, it is not as bad as I have seen in other FPS games.

The single player campaign clocks in at about 5-7 hours depending on how you play and what your skill level is. It is not the length of the campaign that is disconcerting, it is the way it ends, which is quite abruptly. I couldn’t help but be left wanting more. To tell you the truth the game probably could have gone on a few more chapters to make it feel more complete. For those achievement collectors out there, there are a few reasons to head back and play each level again. There are also collectible items to be found that, believe it or not, help flush out the story that much more.

For those looking for more than just a single player experience there is a well implemented multiplayer component. This comes in the form of system link (2-16 players (Xbox 360 only)) as well as some over each console’s online network (XBL/PSN). There are two main game modes, Ground Control and Team Deathmatch. Ground Control is a “capture and hold” gameplay style where up to 32 players vie to capture three points on the map and hold them for an allotted time. Once the time is reached, new points open up for capture. First team to win two rounds wins the match. Team Deathmatch is self explanatory. There is also a Skirmish mode that combines the two modes in such that you play each mode in the same match.

Kaos Studios has introduced a new variance of each multiplayer mode called Battle Commander. Here each mode is assigned an AI controlled commander that will set up special missions and place bounties on players during multiplayer matches. This is a great feature as you can earn special bonuses by completing the missions, or finding and terminating the person(s) that have bounties on their heads. It adds a little spice to the gameplay.

Kaos has also introduced Battle Points. This is basically in-match economy that awards you points for all your actions (e.g. kills, assists, destroy vehicles, capture points, etc.) and allows you to buy items that you have assigned in your menu. These points are only earned and spent in each match and do not carry over. To use these points effectively, you will find items that are your strength (e.g. hellfire missiles, flak jackets, drones, etc.) and once you earn enough Battle Points you can purchase it on the fly and use it at your will. There is nothing more satisfying than surpassing that critical number of points, accessing your item, and opening up a can of whoop ass. You can even purchase a vehicle when you respawn if you have enough points, so if you save up you can spawn in a tank or helicopter to seek revenge on the opposing team.

I had a chance to play Homefront prior to the retail release, and sometime after. I have to say that my time prior was smoother given that there were not as many people online. It seems that the dedicated servers really got hit hard after launch day and they had to add more servers to the mix. I know that PS3 owners are not having nearly as good a time as Xbox 360 owners out there as there are ongoing issues. When you do manage to get into a good solidly connected match, the really big matches are crazy, and fun. If there is one thing I have to stress though it is that people need to communicate, as I was in many matches where people just did there own thing. The few matches I got into where people did talk were much more enjoyable, as figuring out what each person was going to do was a coordinated effort that paid off. Overall I think the multiplayer has some addictive powers that are fun, but I do think that some may feel it’s not enough. At the end of the day it really does come down to what you like, and most should enjoy Homefront’s multiplayer offerings.


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