Homefront: The Revolution
I’ve always been a big fan of underdogs. Working with minimal resources and/or weapons and going up against superior (usually oppressive) forces utilizing asymmetric tactics is something that is visceral for me. I mean, I must have watched 1984’s Red Dawn about a hundred times (the 2012 retread was poop of course), and I always cheered when I’d hear the Wolverines mentioned.
And who can forget the French Resistance? Those brave people who fought tooth-and-nail against Nazi Germany in occupied France during WW II practiced very similar guerrilla warfare tactics using whatever they could get their hands on as weapons. They stood up against the most oppressive regime ever known to man, and never, ever gave up. They also rescued many allied combatants (including Americans) that were trapped behind enemy lines. I hope our politicians study just a tad more about history the next time they even think about renaming French fries to freedom fries.
In this regard, when I’d first heard about Homefront: The Revolution, my interest was piqued to say the least. The original, 2011’s Homefront, offered up a fascinating plate of speculative pulp fiction. Its plot revolved around a 2027 invasion of a united Greater Korean Republic on U.S. soil, particularly the West Coast.
Curiously, Homefront: The Revolution, is a reboot rather than a continuation of the original game’s timeline. It’s not clear if the publishers, Deep Silver, did this to distance itself from the mixed reception of Koas Studios/THQ’s 2011 version (including a bizarre releasing of thousands of balloons over San Francisco Bay which got environmentalists all up in a tizzy), or because of copyright issues. The main questions are, does the version offer anything new and is it for better or worse?
Homefront: The Revolution’s plot is centered on Philadelphia in 2029. Well, Philadelphia plus thousands of North Korean boots on its ground. That’s right, our not-so-much friends across the Pacific pond are four years into their occupation of the United States after (in the game’s fictional time-lined backstory) North Korean forces decided to strip the U.S. of its national resources in order to pay off a gigantic debt that was owed and not paid up. This sets the stage for what could be have been an intriguing near-future dystopian experience. Unfortunately, Homefront: The Revolution’s execution falters in several major ways.
You take on the role of Ethan Brady, a member of seemingly the only resistance cell in the U.S. Seriously, besides three or four other teammates, it’s just you few insurgents going up against the entire North Korean military. Okay, the setup kind of doesn’t seem plausible, so what about the actual gameplay itself, right?
Homefront: The Revolution is essentially a first person, run-and-gun shooter, except you can’t really run and gun. If this sounds confusing, you’re supposed to be a guerilla-style resistance fighter engaging in asymmetrical warfare against superior forces, and at some points, the game encourages you to play that way. However, there is no cover system, and games that promote utilizing guerilla tactics usually have some sort of hide-behind-cover system, and/or stealth mechanic(s) such as in any of the Splinter Cell or Metal Gear games. Heck, even its most similar peer, Tom Clancy’s The Division, has a built-in cover system that allows you to pop up from behind hard cover, squeeze off a few rounds, and the duck back down in order to reload, all the while keeping a beady eye on enemy combatant’s movements.
What’s even more frustrating is that while there are some missions that promote the use of careful tactics, such as convoy ambushes and the like, how they play out is quite different from how they are set up to go down. That’s because as soon as you engage any enemy—anything from shooting at a single soldier to triggering a demolitions charge on a hostile vehicle, waves and waves of backup soldiers pop up out of nowhere and swarm you.
That means that firefights that could have been over and done with over the course of a few minutes can turn into extended, almost never-ending battles where legions of enemy troops show up and proceed to rain on your little parade. Combined with the game’s 360 degree maps, and therefore the inability to hide anywhere and collect your wits, and you can quickly find yourself very dead before you even know where you got shot from.
The game’s main goals play out in the highly oppressive Yellow Zones where your objective is to gradually build up your Hearts and Minds meter. This is done by destroying supply depots, taking out propaganda speakers, and generally being a thorn in the side of the North Korean forces. The gradual pecking away at this meter is rather tiresome, however, and eventually gets to feel like tick-marking boxes on a dreary checklist of required chores. Go here do this, go there do that, you get the picture.
Homefront: The Revolution’s visuals are pretty good, and portray the game’s two main zones, the grungy Red Zone and the more pristine (although still highly oppressed) Yellow Zone, with equal aplomb. The character models are also generally well-handled, but unfortunately, I got stuck in-between some of them and certain points and it was hard to extricate myself (glitches). The weapons also have a little bit of “floaty-itus” (yes I just made that up) where they just don’t really seem to have a solid feel, and the recoil sort of looks like you’re shooting off a popgun. Still, the explosions are handled nicely so there are plenty of orange fireballs to admire. Overall, the visuals are decent, if generic.
Homefront: The Revolution is a game that is fun in some respects—its combat is certainly…challenging, and some of the characters and their voiceovers are decent. The writing is also pretty inspired as far as telling the tale of a small group of insurgents trying fight it out, guerilla-style, against a monolithic (and also hegemonic), newly established power structure. Those who are more of the Call of Duty run-and-gun type of gamers may look past its flaws and simply enjoy it for what it is—a rather watered down first-person shooter.
Homefront: The Revolution graphics are pretty decent and there are lots of bright explosions. However, in order to play it with a decent framerate and on higher settings, you’re going to need a powerful gaming PC or gaming laptop, such as:
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