korsair_13's Homefront (PC) review

Look, it's a Red Dawn video game! And just as bad as the movie!

          While the title is meant semi-jokingly, anyone who has actually watched Red Dawn will agree that it is not exactly one of the greatest movies ever made. Hell, it has Patrick Swayze in it. In this same vein, Homefront is a game that cannot have a very deep story. The Russians are replaced with the Koreans, but other than that it is pretty much a straight rip-off. The game takes place several years after the occupation of the US, as the "Norks" are moving across the country and slowly taking control over every town. At least, I think that is what is happening, but really we only see Colorado and then San Fransisco. There is a big expository introduction made of flashbacks, which you may have already seen if you watched all of the trailers, but it actually doesn't do a great job of setting up the story itself as you are once again a silent protagonist, so all of the in-game story is elucidated by your companions without you saying anything about it. Contrary to Gordon Freeman, who seriously does not have a choice in what he does, Jacob, the protagonist in Homefront, just seems like he either doesn't care about anything that happens or is just an unwilling schlub.
          I compare this game to Half-life simply because it takes the silent protagonist thing from it and because it fails miserably when trying to get me to feel for the characters in the game. Connor is your typical angry hard-ass, Hopper is the nerd of the crew, and Rianni (at least I think that is her name) is the lady with a heart. Boone is the leader of the group and is the typical idealist who has a master plan. Some people will say that the story in this game is fantastic but, I ask, how the hell can you get a great story out of a game that is only 4 hours long? The only part of the story I liked was where you had to fight insane survivalists who were more willing to kill you and collect the bounty than to help you fight off the Koreans. To me, that made sense. Other than that, there is no explanation in the main game of how the US Army is still in existence, or why San Fransisco (and mainly the Golden Gate Bridge) is an important strategic area (other than the obvious).
          Alright, enough about the story, lets talk about the gameplay. I will admit, playing this game was kind of fun. However, this too comes with caveats, which I will get to later. I love killing people. I don't mean that literally of course, but I mean that killing humans has always been more fun to me than killing monsters or aliens. So, this game comes with an automatic increased fun factor. That does not fix the fact that this game appears to have been intended as a 3rd person cover mechanic shooter when it is quite obviously a 1st person shooter. If you get shot up a bunch, your screen goes red and then you have to take cover until you "heal," which only takes like 3 seconds (which is really fast for most games). You do get to play around with some decent weapons, although mostly just the M4, SCAR, and something called a Diablo (which I am sure is a pseudonym for a real gun's name), since that is all anyone drops for the first 80% of the game. You also get to play around with one vehicle. That's right, for a game that talks about vehicle use as part of its appeal, the SP portion only gives you direct control of one vehicle (not including an on-rails humvee gun or a short use of a predator drone). While flying a helicopter can be fun, it is largely uneventful and a bit too easy in this game. One vehicle that you sort of get to play around with a lot is called Goliath and it is essentially a targeted drone. It is actually less fun to use than shooting people would be, so while you have to use it a lot, I was kind of annoyed when these points cam up as they were way to simplistic: aim your targeter at them and click, presto dead koreans!
          As per the graphics, well, actually, they are pretty decent. At least on my computer with everything on very high, the game looks pretty nice, as long as you focus on the mission-pertinent areas. It's not going to win any awards but nothing is lost because of the graphics, and it does a decent job of making the world look real, especially since it doesn't follow recent conventions of adding a sepia filter to everything or making it look like a Michael Bay movie. Apparently when the apocalypse comes, color goes with it, but not in the Homefront universe, thank science. 
        Now for my serious gripe. The sound is atrocious. Once again, I was playing this on computer so that may have something to do with it, but I have never had these problems with sound in a game before. So, here is what happened to me constantly: voices dropping out mid-sentence, entire sentences being duplicated over and over again (especially in the hardware store: if I hear "enemy near the shelves" or "enemy near the register" or "enemy near the check-out" again i will kill a child) and the voices and the mouths not matching up by about 2-3 seconds (which is an eternity if you have ever seen it in a movie).
      The only thing that fixes this game is its multiplayer, which is something I rarely play. It has fun new elements and a great deal of variety. It also doesn't frustrate me as much as CoD4 does. I won't talk about it more as I haven't really played it that much, but needless to say it gained a star because of it.
      Homefront could be fun, if it wasn't a blatant rip-off of an 80s movie (even with the "Go Wolverines" banner that you find in the game) that tries to be a 3rd person shooter with a silent protagonist who shouldn't be silent, and characters who are so cookie cutter they might as well have signs above their head that declares their cliche. Also, I am sure I wouldn't be so annoyed by the story if it wasn't so hard to understand why I was doing what I was doing. Why does the resistance need jet fuel? Why do they need it in San Francisco? Why why why? I asked that question a lot of times in this game. Also, if the sound were fixed, this game would be better. I do not think that I need to turn on subtitles in order to enjoy a game, but for Homefront I needed them just to understand what was going on. It's too bad because I thought that this game had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, promise does not a good game make.

6 Comments
Posted by PJ

You can't call it a Red Dawn Rip-Off when its the same fucking guy writing the story. Also Red Dawn is a pretty good movie and I don't know how old you are so you might not know but back in the day, Swayze was a relativly big name(especially after Red Dawn)
Posted by korsair_13

 Red Dawn is shit. Don't mess about. Just because you have nostalgia for it doesn't change the fact that the movie itself is bad. Good at the time is not the same thing as good. And, so bad it's good is not what I consider a "good" movie either, which is what Red Dawn was at best. And if it was written John Milius, is he an unoriginal idiot? How come he made a spiritual successor to Red Dawn while also writing the screenplay for the new Red Dawn coming out next year? Does he only have one semi-decent story to tell? When are people going to realize that occupying a country the size of the US would be as difficult as occupying Russia or Canada? It smacks of such blatant unbelievability that I cannot rightly accept it as written.
Also, while I agree that Swayze was a big name, that doesn't change the fact that he was a bad actor. He had no depth or versatility. His characters were bland and boring. In Dirty Dancing he was the rebel who fought authority, in Roadhouse he was the rebel who fought the established assholes in the town, in Red Dawn he was the rebel who fought the Russians, in Ghost he is the rebel dead guy who refuses to die because he is in love, in Point Break he is the rebel surfer/bank robber/parachutist, in Renegades he is well, you get the fucking point. Big name or not he was not exactly a quality actor. 

Posted by MetallicDistortion

yeah gotta agree with you, Red Dawn was pretty fucking terrible, and Swayze couldnt act for shit ever in his career so it doesnt really matter how big his name was because no one gives two fucks any more. That said, nice review and you're right, its a shitty game but i dont think the multiplayer saves it, i thought that part was awful too. 

Posted by AstroCow
@korsair_13: Yeah, and what about  Jim Cunningham (Donnie Darko)?
Edited by korsair_13

 Really? A part that lasted all of five minutes on screen? Where he plays a bad actor convincingly in his infomercial? I don't think it was a difficult part for him. Hell, it was made for him.
Also, the multiplayer isn't bad, except for the fact that everyone plays a sniper, and that the controls for the helicopter are so confusing and broken it would take me three days to figure out how to use them, and that the "flak jacket" doesn't make you any more resilient to damage, and that when people get vehicles they dominate the game at least when it is better than a humvee. So yes, the multiplayer is a bit broken. But, the maps are nice.

Posted by Nowayman

I saw it today at the mall. I laughed when I saw the writer "credited" for "Red Dawn". 
 
I would have very great difficulty of playin' a game whose describe seriously North Korea taking over the USA. 
 
It's just silly and does have as much credibility than a scenario based on something like Belgium taking over russia.

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