In 2011, Kaos Studios invited players to indulge in their exciting concept of a war-torn U.S, downtrodden and demoralised by a foreign invasion. Echoes of Patrick Swayze’s 1984 classic movie Red Dawn coursed and flowed throughout Homefront’s campaign. The first person shooter had initially showed such promise, promise that quickly became lost amongst a lacklustre and largely forgettable single player campaign, thankfully the game was saved by some memorable large open world maps within its multiplayer modes, that was until the servers sadly closed for good. Both Kaos Studios and Homefront publisher, THQ are now out of business so cue Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios to attempt to revitalise the Homefront I.P but would it be a success?.
Homefront: The Revolution: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC, PlayStation 4
Developer: Dambuster Studios, Deep Silver
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 19 May 2016
Price: £54.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Homefront: The Revolution is not a direct sequel to 2011’s Homefront, it does, however, share a very similar theme and setting. The year is 2029 and the U.S have once more found themselves the victims of a home invasion by the Korean People’s Army or KPA after the collapse of capitalism within the states, America is once more on its knees and very much open to attack. The overwhelming power and sheer dominance of the KPA can be felt throughout the homes, alleyways and streets of Philadelphia with trigger happy soldiers all too ready and willing to shoot civilians down on sight if they happen to step out of line, drones patrol both the sky and the streets. The pungent stench of desperation and paranoia flows from every orifice of this once great nation as America’s oppressors use every inch of their powerful technology to drive Americans into hiding or into line.
Players are introduced to Revolution’s story through the rather unsettling opening cutscene which only serves to highlight the true nature of both the demeaning Korean People’s Army along with the heart and fight of the Resistance. After the opening moments, I gained control of young protagonist Ethan Brady, a recently recruited member of the Resistance, a young man who is willing to lay his very life on the line in order to aid the freedom fighters in their war against the vicious KPA, in order to establish a foothold in the fight and ultimately take back the land that is now occupied by a foreign and demanding government.
The true nature of the Korean People’s Army becomes abundantly clear the moment I set foot out into the streets. The first Green Zone is a ragged but still relatively whole area where the KPA almost thrive and have their own amenities. As Brady, I took careful steps around the streets, witnessing civilians being hassled and harassed by Korean soldiers, dirty and unwashed, beaten and poor. The opening moments and objectives help to set up the game’s atmosphere quite accurately, as an oppressed nation completely taken over by Korean invaders, its residents lives in complete shambles and chaos.
There are two others zones to discover as players progress through the story, a “Yellow Zone” and a “Red Zone”. The Yellow Zone is also a settlement area, where it’s primarily the shambling people living in dank ghettos. From looking around I found most of their living quarters to consist entirely of impoverished tents, and needs such as water are almost entirely tenuous. It’s also where the KPA visit to make living even more difficult for the people there, hindering movement and communication as they are constantly watched by cameras and hovering drones.
The Red Zone bears all the scars of the invasion. Dominated by fallen bricks, rubble and debris, with vacant buildings and uninhabited areas. It’s where most of the resistance combat and movement takes place, as I moved throughout the urban areas stealthily avoiding the KPA’s vigorous patrols and drones. The red zone represents a no go area for any civilians, a place where, if caught, the soldiers will open fire before asking any questions, a place where caution is of the utmost importance.
The Resistance has many traps and weapon caches stashed all over these areas, where you’ll have to use “guerrilla tactics” to take on the soldiers and gain new safehouses for the Resistance to convert for their own, driving the KPA further back. Radios can be located and the frequency changed, causing a broadcast from the voice of the Resistance to echo for all to hear. Areas of useful operation or strongholds valuable to the cause can be overcome and retaken with a degree of combat involved. These side objectives are vital to the Resistance, it’s very competition rallies up the civilians too afraid to stand up and voice their anger, furthering improving and adding numbers to the Resistance.
Each of these zones has its own distinct environment, but overall it’s still the same oppressive atmosphere. Honestly, though, the amount of detail in these areas is quite impressive. As you walk on the sidewalks of the city streets you can actually see there’s depth and details inside buildings, people and debris litters the streets, and at least in the green zone the inside of the buildings you can enter are packed with objects and junk that really sets in the feeling that this was a place that people used to live but has since been ransacked and abandoned.
It’s rather unfortunate then that there’s not really too much build up in these areas. You’re tossed into each situation, told you’re important to the resistance, and then you walk around war torn streets where people are quite clearly uncomfortable and defeated, but there’s something that doesn’t quite give you that oppressed feeling. A lot happens in the first hour of the game that tries to set the mood, but in many instances, you’re just told that you’re supposed to be upset, angry, and afraid. I give props to the game for trying to get to the action, but for a game that hinges itself so much on its atmosphere and world building, it really doesn’t seem like it spends much time on it. It’s not long until you’re given a gun and then very shortly after you’re able to grab an assault rifle with the hundreds of dollars you’ve been given.
Arguably the most impeding aspect of the game is its technical performance, most notably its ability to run on consoles and PC. Homefront: The Revolution runs on the CryEngine, which has commonly been an engine that was capable of amazing visuals and decent performance in the hands of a competent developer, but it seems that is not the case here. While at first performance may seem okay in the game’s opening segments, with at least moderate PC’s able to handle it well and the consoles running it about on par with most console titles, once you hit the game’s first major outdoor segment you’ll no doubt be disappointed.
On PC, it seemed any frame rate below 60 FPS would cause the game to stutter and hiccup, especially if you dared to move in any general direction. Consoles were often lucky to run the game above 20 FPS, and when the game saves your entire system would freeze for anywhere between 1-5 (sometimes more) seconds. Doing just about any action that seemed to require the game to access data would cause the system to pause and stutter completely ruining the pacing. Completing an objective to be faced with a frozen wait to move on became tedious and annoying on a whole, slowing down the pace of the game unnecessarily in the process. Load times between each of the zones also aided in draining life from the game, with an unpleasant wait to continue pushing back the KPA.
If you can overlook the rather large elephant in the room then Homefront: The Revolution has something to offer and does possess some enjoyable moments. For example, the story, like it’s predecessor is appealing and makes for a good engaging shooter and then there is the outstanding crafting and modding system, which allows players to take one weapon and quickly turn it into another such as a pistol which can quickly be turned into a scoped sub-machine gun for faster fire rate, bombs can be disguised as cute teddy bears that can be detonated when a curious soldier spots it and comes over to investigate it. The crafting and modding within Revolution is a real joy to experience and leaves the open world a pleasure to work within. After capturing a stronghold residents can be quickly recruited to fight by your side, so you can take the fight to the KPA with strength in numbers. There are a number of different side missions within each zone to further your grip on the area, while these small side missions can be rewarding they are slightly repetitive in nature.
Multiplayer consists solely of Resistance Mode, where up to four players can take on 12 separate missions, be it to attack or to defend against KPA forces. Creating a character to tailor my own needs gave the mode a real personal touch with the ability to customise with gear and weapons through a ranking system. The overall theme of the game is a united front against a common enemy, Resistance Mode is all about teamwork, with no versus multiplayer to sink my teeth into the mode, as exciting as it is, wasn’t enough to quench my thirst. The most enjoyable element of Homefront were it’s wide open maps and large teams with a variety of different vehicles to choose from a la Battlefield, Revolution has none of these modes to fall back on. Through a skill tree I could make my custom soldier better suited for battle, with perks to lighten my footsteps and the ability to both revive and be revived quickly as well as the skill perk that would see me able to equip an extra weapon, Resistance Mode wouldn’t occupy too much of my time but it was an enjoyable break from the campaign and has a level of replayability to it.
In a market where games such DOOM run at a mighty and smooth 60FPS, technical weakness isn’t something gamers will accept or tolerate after parting with their hard earned cash. Sadly, a large percentage of paying customers will be turned off by Homefront: The Revolution‘s technical issues. With the developer aware of the situation it shouldn’t be too long before the bugs are addressed, which could make Homefront: The Revolution an open world game worth the entrance fee, but in its current state it falls short of the high standards current generation games are setting currently and that’s a real shame, it’s premise is one to enjoy and Revolution deserves to be heard.
Homefront: The Revolution
- All three zones are designed well
- Crafting and Modding is a real joy to play with
- The story is engaging and thought provoking
- Frame rate issues and bugs are too frequent and hinder enjoyment
- More Multiplayer Modes would have made the game better
- Side objectives felt repetitive and overused
- Clumsy aiming