When war is in your own backyard, the true nature of the beast that pits humanity against itself becomes a reality. This is the approach THQ is taking with the upcoming Kaos Studios venture, Homefront. For the sake of the gaming audience, Homefront is looking leaps and bounds better than Frontlines: Fuel of War, Kaos’ last developed title.
Sadly, changes have been made from its debut E3 2009 in the concerns of the single-player campaign as Kaos has opted for a more linear approach rather than dynamic gameplay that was ambitiously spoken about in 2009. This isn’t necessarily a terrible change as the single-player campaign that was presented was often compelling and did an excellent job at filling in the background that led to the events of the start of the game.
The first level has the main character waking up to the thuds of a knock at his door. Soon after, unidentified military personnel break in and kidnap the civilian who is soon to be revealed a pilot of all things. Although hard to distinguish due to the voices and character models blending in with the rest of characters, the military personnel turn out to be the Greater Korean Republic – the very threat to America’s freedom. After being masked and thrown around for good measure, our unexpected hero of the story is shoved into a barred bus and led away as he witnesses scenery of the world around him as his homeland is torn apart by the GKR.
A friend of a friend
The basic premise of Homefront is rather simple: align with the GKR or join the rebel cause to save America. Since we are patriotic (plus, we have no other option), let’s go ahead and assume that the next series of events pits us joining the rebel cause in a few exciting ways without revealing the finer details on how our hero escapes the bus. Once freed, the exposition of the story details that our hero isn’t any normal pilot, but he is the one that the rebellion has been searching for and are willing to bet the house on.
Along the linear path of the first level, players are exposed to civilians both hiding from the GKR and standing up for their independence. Those who are found hiding are often lined up and shot dead in their tracks if they don’t accept the GKR as their leaders or try to escape. Those who are standing up for independence are banding together in a closed-gate society of sorts that isn’t too far off in the distance from the beginning of the game. To cut the story short, it’s a live or die type of world as the American military is spread thin across the land, especially since that the GKR cut off the United States by eliminating communication with anyone east of the Mississippi (do we smell sequel? Yes, we do!).
As a shooter, Homefront is rather simple to pick up and play. Control familiarity should come to those who have played Call of Duty and Medal of Honor with ease. Right trigger to shoot? Check. Left Trigger to zoom in with scope? Check. The rest of the default first-person shooter controls follow, so there shouldn’t be many complaints about the mechanics behind Homefront.
Meet the Goliath
The combat is often tense due to the cat and mouse game of escaping the GKR. Many times they back our hero, along with his friends, into a corner and they must fight their way out of the scenario. Whether it’s being trapped in a house, fighting around airplane wreckage or scoping out the land via a treehouse, the first level of Homefront is diverse with objectives.
It becomes even more exciting when the Goliath, the rebel’s version of Batman’s tumbler, comes busting through a house and our hero gains control to take out enemy vehicles with auto lock-on missiles. The short time the Goliath was on screen it caused a lot of damage and brought forth mayhem that sent the GKR running with the tail between their legs, especially with the level ending airstrike.
From the brief time we played Homefront, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that THQ isn’t taken the FPS genre lightly anymore. Even though Homefront is a modern warfare shooter in most effects, it’s a rather beautiful telling of what could come of the genre in the future rather than latching onto conventions of today.