Monday, 21 March 2011

Game Review - Homefront

Game Review - Homefront (or why you should never buy a game which advertises its best review coming from a lad/softcore porn mag)

Homefront, for those of you who don't know is an FPS set around the American Underground resistance in a North Korean Occupied United States. Its story was written by the same guy who wrote the movies "Red Dawn" and "Apocolypse Now". So as far as stories go, it should be promising.I'm a guy that loves a strong narative in a game, which is why Bioshock is so highly held in my eyes, as it the overarching Gears of War and Halo series are.

And it is good...sort of. Without giving too much away it features some grand set ups, some good developments, but at the same time some "twists" that are so obvious if you didn't see them coming the Korean Propaganda has obviously worked,

Never the less the single player is a good well rounded game, with some huge problems.

1) Its way too short - I played through normal in under 3 hours because i couldn't find how to change the difficulty (its hidden in the options menu, only accessable from the front menu)

2)Ordered Sequences - There are some times in the game where you need to climb down a ladder, or crawl through a hole. So you try to. Only problem is your teammates need to go through first. So you're left standing next to the hole you want to crawl through, while your teammates slowly wander over and climb through. Even worse is, if you stand in front of the door your supposed to walk through, even if guy number 1 has gone through, if you block guy number 2 he can't go through so you can't go through. It just heavily breaks the feeling of immersion

3)Special Grenades. In single player (we'll get to multi in abit) it introduces you to special greandes in the first mission. Here its C4 you throw through a window and blow up an APC. Great. You never find any or use it ever again. Or any other special greande. Kinda wonder what the point in that was.

4) Walking/Dialogue sections - In the early game there are sections of long dialogue where you slowly walk around the village, or ride a bus. These take about 5 minutes and are unskippable. If you want all the achievements in the game, you'll probably need to play each mission at least twice (unless you're a gaming god and can complete each mission on the hardest setting without dying once). They just take forever and break it up even more.

5) The Ending. Through out the early game you have control of "Goliath" a drone APC that fires it machine guns at enemies automatically and you fire its missiles at targets you designate. Eventually goliath bites it. At the very end of the game, the last 2 things you do are - Fire a Predator UAV at some white blobs in a unchallenging boring version of the C130 bits from CoD. And then you become the gunner on an APC and have to blow up the enemy Goliath. So basically the last great firefight moment is an onrails shooter, with a infinite ammo machine gun and pressed the button to activate missile countermeasures (on a Humvee? Really?) every 10 seconds or so. And then the highly cliched predicatable ending rolls.

They (the developers) have said there will be 2 single player DLC content packs, with 3 new missions each. So in 2 packs, you get the same number of missions as the game itself has.


The Multiplayer isn't bad. Could have used a bit more testing, and the menus are annoying (pressing B doesn't drop you out, you have to go and select the option...just irritating).

Also it can't seem to decide if it wants to be a realistic military shooter (like GRAW, or Operation Flashpoint) or a more arcadey style (like CoD). Guns are better set at their ranges, so SMG win at short range, assault at mid, snipers at long (I'll get to snipers in a minute) and going prone helps aim and chances, but at the same time a guy running round with a pistol has a good chance of beating you at long range and runing, jumping and circle strafing work just as well

Snipers...are another problem. They're strong (1 headshot, or 2 torsoshots), they have virtually no recoil, aiming down the sights has little to no movement for "breathing" and are semi automatic. Brilliant for people who snipe. I call those people...something I can't repeat. Yes accurate that snipers rule open areas, but with no drawbacks they seem to rule anything they want.

A good idea in the game is "BP". Working like XP you earn points for every kill you make, objective you capture etc. Each class comes with 2 special purchase slots, which range from UAV sweeps and extra armour, to bombing runs and gun drones. This is a really good system for rewarding good gameplay, as even if you don't get a high killstreak, you still earn points towards goodies, meaning people who win the matches just by claiming objectives get rewards as well as those who run in crazy and get kills.

These BP can also be spent on vehicles in some matches. From the humble humvee (which seems to be missing the missile countermeasures suddenly) to APC's, Tanks and 2 types of helicopters. The game also offers a brilliant option of spawning in the secondary gun seat in someones vehicle, so if you buy a chopper you donj't need to waste time on the ground waiting for someone else to get in.

However the vehicles (particularly the choppers, especially the missile spewing AT chopper) don't seem balenced. Almost impervious to small arms fire thanks to height and armour they have only 2 weaknesses...proximity rockets (rockets that fire in straight lines, but explode if they sense they're close to something) and AT drones, which have lock on missiles. However the neither of these purchaseables are unlockable until about Level 30. The AT drone isn't in any of the premade selections, and the proximity launcher in one of them. Oh and the chopper does have counter measures, which recharge faster than the rockets on the drone do. Also at a high enough level you can have a perk which means you vehicle automatically repairs itself. I understand that the chopper is a significant BP investment (about 2000 points, when you get 130 for a kill) but its just doen'st seem to die. At least drones have a battery life before they fail.

It also seems to favour the higher ranked more than other FPS games do. At higher ranks you unlock better things, like better airstrikes, perks and customised vehicle slots. These just make it easier to dominate the lesser being who are just starting. Example? When you start you have the option of a hell strike purchasable. 2 single shot missiles that damage light armour (kill a humvee in one though)and kill infantry if you hit them directly. At rank 17 you get a white phosphorus mortar round. large area, kills lot of infantry (rarely do I see one of these that doesn't kill at least 2 people) but doesn't do much against vehicles. At rank 40ish you get cluster bombs. Large area, kills anything under it, infantry or vehicles included. Now I understand you need to reawrd hgiher ranking players, but it just feels like a newcomer to this game in say, a month is going to have a serious uphill struggle to get into the game.

Also some of the capture and control maps seem a little one sided. In all the game i've played on most of them one team always wins that round. But maybe thats just fluke.

Anyway in review Homefront isn't a bad game. Its just short, with some good multiplayer innovations, but could use a few tweaks.

And its arbitary grade out of 10? 7.5. Rent it, borrow it, see what you think, then if you like the multiplayer buy it. But do it quick before every online is ranked Lv50.