The devil is in the details as well, with many mechanics and conventions already feeling tired by the end of the game. Achieving what seems to be a major turn of luck for you side in skirmish, only to witness a massive explosion that once again stacks the odds against you is interesting the first time, but after the sixth, it’s just predictable and silly.
Observers may think that a story by John Milius and the fiction of Homefront‘s future history would be enough to keep many interested and unbothered by somewhat dumbed down gameplay. The fact is, there are only two moments in the game when an enemy actually identifies themselves as a Korean soldier, and never speaks about the political motivations of their superiors. From that point on, the game’s enemy’s are either masked or hiding behind cover, and their national affiliation makes absolutely no difference to any elements of the game’s plot.
The notion seems insane considering how much time the development team apparently put into framing North Korea as America’s perfect enemy, but most players will have little chance of differentiating Homefront‘s KPA from Killzone‘s Helghast. The player’s story turns from one of survival and revenge into saving his own skin, with one of the most forced climaxes in recent memory being tacked on for even more explosions. So while players may have initially been driven to defend their neighbors and children, they’re likely to instead feel pulled along for the ride by the final mission.
Homefront came under some serious criticism recently when it was revealed that the main campaign lasted only 5 hours, and there’s no getting around the fact: the game only contains less than 10 missions in total. While initially defending the assumption based on differing playstyles from gamer to gamer, I owe the critics an apology. Even with several mind-numbingly obtuse mission hurdles along the way, this reviewer finished Homefront’s singleplayer campaign in 4 hours. In all honesty, less than 4. Not even the countless invisible walls of the game’s levels could stop me.
That’s not to say that a short campaign can’t be incredibly satisfying, but a game that tries to be two different things within such a short window give anything but a full experience.
Whether it was Kaos attempting to give shooter fans both hard-hitting drama and industry-standard ‘always cranked to eleven’ firefights, or pressure from THQ to get as close to Black Ops‘ blockbuster performance as possible, Homefront falls short of most of its goals.
In discussing a potential sequel to Homefront, Kaos Studio’s General Manager voiced his thought that the game combined both storytelling moments and combat moments, which is true. The story was an interesting one, but with the developers abandoning the substance of it in favor of action halfway through the game, Homefront ultimately fails to accomplish either. You see, it’s not that they only had half a game’s worth of each, it’s that they completely forgot about one of them halfway through.
The result is a game that stirs up serious emotions, but never sees them through to any resolution. It’s also a game that recreates the action of other successful properties, but fails to achieve the same level of refinement, and offers nothing new to the gameplay.
Homefront also comes with an online multiplayer, available to anyone willing to buy the game new or purchase an online pass. THQ is allowing players who don’t purchase or redeem an online pass to take part in multiplayer, but prohibiting them from advancing beyond level 5 experience.
The multiplayer modes of Homefront are competently-designed, and include a fair bit of carnage after some leveling, but that may not save the game from being tossed aside. As basically a lesser CoD title that includes vehicles, it stands to reason that most shooter fans would simply stick with Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2 or wait for Battlefield 3 to arrive.
Don’t get us wrong: those who loved Black Ops will find things to like in Homefront, since the combat itself isn’t lacking in any drastic ways. But Kaos never said they were going to inject some story and maturity into a popular shooter; they promised us a completely different, completely-realized dramatic experience.
So while Kaos may have produced a very good shooter with some seriously inspired story, the finished product never reaches the heights expected by its many champions. Because of that, Homefront will likely turn out to be a disappointment to those hoping for something other than a good shooter.