System: Xbox 360
Developer: Kaos Studios
Release Date: March 15, 2011
The year is 2027. North Korea has a new leader, Kim Jong-un (Kim Jong-il’s son), and he is hellbent on world domination. After uniting both North and South Korea together, the Republic has taken over Japan and has now begun a devastating assault on the United States. The US military has been incapacitated by an EMP strike, and the entire West Coast is in disarray. Small pockets of resistance forces have popped up to fight the Republic, and Homefront places you in the middle of one these renegade groups. This is a pretty interesting concept since most first person shooters are based on foreign soil, and ultimately it was this premise that inspired me to look into Homefront. Unfortunately, this great idea is poorly utilized.
The first thing I noticed about Homefront is that it looks like every other FPS on the Xbox 360. The character models and environments remind me of the Battlefield: Bad Company games, and many of the levels have similar thematic elements to Call of Duty. In essence, Homefront comes off as a poor man’s version of both.
The single player campaign is short. Painfully short, actually. At just 4-5 hours in length, you can complete it in one evening of play, if you so desire. I can deal with short campaigns if they are well thought-out enough, but Homefront’s killer concept quickly deteriorates into a generic formulaic design. Every level is basically urban warfare where you shoot a bunch of Koreans, run to the next location, shoot some more, and then continue repeating this process. There is little in the way of variance, outside of one mission where you get to fly a helicopter. I had no attachment to any of the characters, and I found that the scenes where emotions were meant to be evoked were rather dull and lifeless. Throw in some idiotic and slow-moving AI characters (who you have to follow through the *entire* game), some ridiculous product placement (I can’t even tell you how many NOS/Full Throttle vending machines were “randomly” in the way) and just general lack of excitement, and you have a very underwhelming campaign.
Homefront’s multiplayer mode, on the other hand, is clearly where the game redeems itself. While fairly light on modes/options, the multiplayer is significantly better than its single player brethren. Online games can host as many as 32 players, which can create some crazy and chaotic experiences. Leveling up is the ultimate goal online, and the game uses a fun Battle Points system that allows for the purchase of vehicles and weapon upgrades. While the multiplayer isn’t anything groundbreaking, it is a refreshing change of pace from Call of Duty, and it has a good-sized community at the moment.
It should be noted, however, that online play is severely limited if you buy Homefront used or if you rent the game. Without an online code found in new copies of the game, you can only build your character up to level 5, which means you will miss out on many of the great perks available at later levels. You can buy an online pass for $10, but this extra fee will surely infuriate many gamers.
In short, Homefront is a tale of two games. The single player campaign could have been great, but it didn’t even come close to living up to its full potential. The multiplayer experience is much better, and gamers who play exclusively online will get a lot more out of this. I would recommend renting Homefront if you are curious about the game, but there’s no way in hell I would advise paying its normal $60 price tag.