Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Homefront" is not too far from reality


Developed by: Kaos Studios
Published by: THQ
Available: NOW
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC and OnLive
Rating: M (for Mature)
Price: $59.99

Here are the things you need to know about Homefront. If you are old enough to remember how much beef the U.S. and the Soviet Union had back in the day, you can appreciate the game. If you remember Jennifer Elise Grey as a cute teen insurgent in the movie Red Dawn long before she teamed with Patrick Swayze - RIP - for Dirty Dancing, you'll appreciate the story. If you are old enough to remember a younger (just slightly less crazy) version of Charlie "Winning" Sheen ripping the invading Ruskies a new one in the movie, you will likely appreciate Homefront. If you live-breathe-pray all things COD, you are looking at the wrong game.

As a shooter, the game doesn't really do anything new. You'll take out North Koreans with sniper rifles - you fly a sick "Little Bird" gunship and provide cover for a few oil tanker trucks you just jacked. The story, however, is the game's strongest point. John Milius, who wrote Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn crafted one of the most believable video game stories I've ever seen. Several parts of the game feel like you are a character in Red Dawn and have to play your way out of it, just like you are in the movie.

Gameplay is where people will likely knock Homefront. In single player, you play as Robert Jacobs, a former Marine helo pilot who wakes up to a new America - one with North Korean invaders as our *saviors.* From there, it's a mad dash to The City, San Francisco, to take back everything that's American.

The game mechanics aren't perfect. There are a few issues with camera angles, especially instead of buildings or behind obstacles.

The other thing I didn't really enjoy was - being an expert on any firearm I picked up from the start. I guess being a former Marine, you have mad skillz in firearms. However, your teammates don't. Often, your teammates operate like Airborne Rangers - with precision killing skills. No. They are teachers, farmers, lawyers who are now freedom fighters. They should have a steep learning curve with weapons and tactics, especially after a traumatic instance like having your country invaded. There was a very nice touch when the rebels fired some Willie Pete (White phosphorus rounds - giving light over a battlefield) over a shopping center and fried a ton of troops - unexpectedly. That is one of the sequences that really stuck with me. They aren't Green Berets or contractors. Just normal people without military training trying their best to ward off invaders.

The plot was deep, though the ending made me feel like this is far from being over and believe a Homefront 2 is not that far off. The gameplay is short too - intense, but short. You are looking at roughly 6, 7 hours to crank through Homefront.

You want to go online? Sweet. You'll have just a few modes to play on LIVE or PSN - well, if anonymous releases its grip on PSN - and PC. Haven't tried it on OnLive yet, but will download it and report back. I played a few matches online and loved nabbing tons of drone kills. The gameplay is steady and I didn't experience any lag.

If you buy the game new, you'll receive an online voucher for gameplay online. If you buy it from Gamestop or used, you'll likely have to pay for an online token.

There is a very cool feature for online warriors. The higher your body count, the more your *wanted* level increases. The best way to sum it up is Grand Theft Auto's wanted level. You'll become the cat's meow for killstreaks and staying alive.

The real reason why I enjoyed this game is how eery the game seems. Throughout the game, you can read headlines and stories from newspapers you find. (Side note: At least I'll have a job if newspapers are around in 2027! Yay!) Some of them seem ripped from today's news, especially the one about how North Korean spies sabotaged Japanese nuclear facilities. Yeah. That wasn't the only headline that caught my attention. Another - raising tensions in the Mideast has gasoline prices hovering at $20 a gallon.

With that realism, it's very easy to forgive anything that's less than perfect in this game.

The verdict? 8.5 stars (out of 10 stars) I love shooters. I am not caught up in the hype, in the eye candy or the like for today's shooters. A meh shooter is a meh shooter. I won't defend any game that isn't worthy of being defended. With that said, Homefront is a good game. It plays as a movie that also includes first-person shooting. The plot seems ripped from today's news and is very believable. While it does have issues, it's a thought-provoking game that will keep you entertained.


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