A Worthy Successor to Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
Homefront is what you would call a train wreck. A disaster that is hard to understand when everything looked so promising. Who
didn't instantly think of Freedom Fighters when first seeing this, who didn't love the idea of an alternate future where North Korea invaded the U.S. of A and you had to set it free? Unfortunately, all these hopes are shattered after about 10 minutes of gameplay.
As mentioned before, the game's plot centers around a resistance group in a North Korean occupied America. Everything has gone to hell and things are looking bleak. The game lets you know this by mimicking the opening execution car ride scene of Modern Warfare. This is not the only time that the game tries to ape other modern shooters with bland set pieces. Apart from one act (act 3), all the acts are full of really weird uninteresting set pieces, most involving you falling out of things or babies. There is an entire set piece devoted to protecting a crying baby. Let me tell you, Modern Warfare this is not.
The campaign has you playing as a new recruit in the resistance's ranks and for 6 acts, you and your squad are tasked to set out and secure a fuel convoy. Yep, that's right, your mission is just to secure fuel. Not storm the Whitehouse or liberate San Francisco, just get fuel for the army’s jets. Doesn't that sound epic? Seriously, the guy who wrote Apocalypse Now couldn't invent something better than securing fuel. Great. But don't worry; your "epic" quest won't last long. I beat the game in about 3 hours on the normal difficulty despite restarting multiple times because of the game's awkward difficulty spikes (don't worry we'll get to that). The uninteresting story and characters makes for one of the most uninteresting campaigns I have ever played.
But let's be fair here, Modern Warfare was a short game but still allot of fun thanks to its gameplay. How I wish it were the case here. The game feels unresponsive and imprecise. Nothing feels right, from the snappiness of the aiming down the sights to throwing grenades. About grenades. Throwing a grenade in this game is like throwing a fireball in Mario. The grenade literally goes through your hand and flies away before your character has done the animation. Throwing grenades is like firing a gun, there is no technique, its just aim and fire. Good thing the enemies never think of running away, they just sit there. The gameplay feels generic with each environment full of the same crashed cars to use as cover (cars that bounce when fired on) and the same demolished houses.
The enemies might be dumber than a 5 year old but there is something very wrong with the way you take damage. The enemies take more damage than they should and you go down extremely fast, even on the normal difficulty. There is no difference in damage resistance between normal and hard. I don’t understand what went through their minds when designing this. Of course, the game has infinite spawning enemies (have fun with Act 4) that spawn behind you. Something else that must be pointed out is that the game is extremely slow paced. You are not allowed to manually jump down, jump over, crawl under or climb ladders. You must wait for each AI characters to pass before you can press X to do the appropriate action. And you’re usually in the presence of at least 2 A.I. characters each time, which really slows done the action. The game also hides its load times by having your AI characters wait near a door before opening it. At least give me dialogue or something to entertain me. The problem with this game, when all is said and done, is that it’s extremely boring.
Luckily, the multiplayer slightly saves the day. The gameplay actually tightens up, especially where aiming is concerned. The game invents an ingenious purchasing system where you win Battle Points (which also serve as experience) that serve as money that you use to buy in game perks such as a flack jacket or an RPG. These can be purchased with the D-pad in game, which can really be useful when in front of a tank that is about to blow you to pieces if you don’t suddenly pull out an RPG. You can also use these points to respawn in vehicles, which is useful and fun since surprisingly, the vehicles handle quite well. I felt like I was playing MAG with large maps and large player count, which is fun. The servers, even pre-launch, handle the weight of the chaos and you level up nice and fast. As far as class based FPS multiplayer game modes go, this is better than Medal of Honor but doesn’t reach Call of Duty. It’s a nice diversion.
On the presentation side of things, the score saves this game from burning up and becoming a worthless piece of crap. A swooping score that goes back and references such films as Star Wars and Saving Private Ryan makes the campaign that much bearable. As for the rest, it’s unforgivable. It’s incomprehensible and is the worst part of the whole game. I play most of my games on a fat SD TV. Yes, I know I live in the past but when I started playing this I seriously considered switching to HD since all I could see was aliasing everywhere along with extremely ugly screen tearing. So I hooked my 360 to an HD Bravia and this changed almost nothing. This looks like Call of Duty 3 and the bugs don’t do it any favors. For a game with a day one patch, this feels like a beta. Set pieces are ruined by weird character glitches, enemies heads go through objects making them look like giraffes, weapons magically appear in your companion’s hands, your character falling to his death through his environment, the list never ends. This is a travesty.
So as you must know by now, Homefront is a pretty bad game. It’s a worthy successor to Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. I can’t recommend you buy it, even for its multiplayer and renting is out of the question because of the online code. Boring gameplay, uninteresting story, horrific presentation and some pretty bad design decisions (to change the campaign’s difficulty, you have to go all the way back to the main menu). Homefront is like its manual: interesting, promising and cool on the outside, bland and boring on the inside.