Written by Chris Price
07 Monday 07th February 2011

But roping in the not inconsiderable talents of the John Milius (writer of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn) to flesh out the story of survival, terrorism and guerrilla resistance in a plausible near-future experience, Homefront returns to the well of global catastrophe casting you as average-Joe, now freedom fighter in a United States occupied by a unified Korean army.

Narrated by interactive first person cut-scenes, you’re unceremoniously dragged from your refuge and dispatched to a labour camp when it all goes a bit Michael Mann, and suddenly you’re taking the fight to the sons of Kim Jong-Un.

So the story goes, its 2027. The world as we know it is unraveling after fifteen years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources. The USA has fallen to bits in the wake of economic crises, war over dwindling natural resources and years of global strife. In the ensuing mess, the Red Dragon’s little brother has got its act together, unified both regions and wrought an electronic blackout up the USA, enabling them to move in and occupy North America.

The depictions of the resistance’s intentions, Korean collaborators and persecuted prisoners also play a key part leveraging emotional elements of the story – neighbourhoods split by alliances with occupying forces aren’t so pleased by your disruptive actions. The familiar American Shopping Malls and Stadiums, now labour camps and detention centres add real atmosphere to your struggle and unsettling incidental depictions of the atrocities of war (parents being executed in front of kids etc.) add a touch of gravitas to your battle.

Evidently, a lot of effort has gone into developing a sensory experience befitting of a blockbuster plotline. Careering through patterns of burnt out single family suburbs is a blur of soiled primary colours. Movement is a little sluggish, but a combination of reflex sights, kneel and prone positioning and ample cover favours a more measured pace of battle. A team of friendly Resistance cell NPCs aid in target recognition and waypoint directons. Variants of familiar firearms are introduced early, with varying recoil and rate of fire, with a pleasingly muted ‘putt-putt’ sound. Usual pistol sidearm’s apply, plus tossing a couple of grenades at an enemy placement see’s the bodies soar skywards via some glorious OTT flailing ragdoll physics.

Remotes drones and vehicles are also a key feature of Homefront – the Goliath is remote controlled tank, equipped with machine guns automatically eradicating low-level threat, while you paint enemy vehicles for missiles - in between stopping approach soldiers having your patriotic ears for a necklace and your shins for shoehorns.

The Resistance stronghold provides a base for upgrades, weapons and (I assume) a place to select different weapons. Visuals are very reminiscent of Fallout 3, with bright bold graphics and detailed post-apocalyptic playgrounds. Nothing immediately groundbreaking in the three levels I played, but varied and effective. The grizzly ‘Voice of Freedom’ parries with the radio propaganda, updating your progress through incidental broadcasts.

Homefront is a pretty intense, uncomplicated experience – the familiar cover based FPS structure, with escalating ‘boss battles’ with Korean tech breaking up the series of fire-fights is brisk, bold and brassy. The play style is unashamedly old school in style, reminiscent of guilty pleasure PS2 titles like Urban Chaos and Cold Winter. The enemy AI is logical, operating effective flanking manoeuvres and moving in covering and fire teams, constantly advancing on the player.

The main question is where will Homefront sit? In a year already bristling with triple-A FPS releases, including three major sequels, is there space for a new franchise? THQ’s guerrilla shooter looks set to provide an entertaining, story led first person romp, but we will have to waiting until March to see if the multiplayer (a turf war set during the Korean invasion) will be able to add enough longevity to the title to ensure that a unified Korea still remains a homeland threat.

Homefront is out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 18

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  • Guest: chris
    Wed 16 - Feb - 2011, 21:25
    @Kort - no problems at all - thanks for kudos!
  • Guest: kort
    Tue 15 - Feb - 2011, 23:32
    Hello, we used this over at HomefrontForum, hope you don't mind great article.