Homefront: The Revolution
Dambuster Studios has rebooted the 2011 classic Homefront, and given it an open world spin. Homefront: The Revolution received a warm reception when it was announced, but does it deserve cheers or jeers?
The concept behind the game is an interesting one: it’s set in an alternate timeline in 2029, and North Korea has taken over the US after it defaulted on its debt. (It was the Asian country that experienced the a tech boom in the 1970s and not the US.) The Korean People’s Army (KPA) is in the process of strip mining the country for natural resources in order to gain the money owed by America, and gamers find themselves in the shoes of protagonist Ethan Brady, a man fighting against the KPA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The war-torn city is split into three zones, with a traffic light-style system. Green Zones are the most affluent areas where the richest and most powerful live, and is also where the KPA’s presence is heaviest, making them hard to infiltrate. Most of the US population live in the Yellow Zones. These are frequently patrolled by the KPA, which uses drones and tank-like vehicles to look for the Resistance.
Lastly you have the Red Zones, which are mostly rubble due to heavy shelling and constant street battles, as this is where the Resistance is strongest. It’s also the most dangerous area to be in, as anyone spotted here will be killed on sight, with backup called almost immediately. They are, however, our favourite of the game’s zones, as having to sneak through the remains of destroyed buildings and run across roads metres away from KPA patrols gets the blood pumping, and the gunfights are on another level when compared to the other zones.
The aim of the game is to get the population to rise up against the KPA and take back the US. To achieve this, you’ll need to perform a number of tasks in each zone, ranging from tuning radios to the Resistance’s radio station, to destroying fearmongering speakerphones and even assassinating key KPA targets. Each action you perform raises the amount of resistance in the area, and the higher its level, the less likely you are to be spotted by the KPA on your travels. It’s fun to see the amount of anarchy slowly rising in each zone as you rile up the general public to rebel against their North Korean overlords, giving you the opportunity to hit some of the key bases in the area.
The only downside is that the tasks are, in essence, the same in every zone, meaning while it’s initially exciting to inspire a revolution, you’ll be bored by your fourth or fifth mission.
While the concept and open world nature of Homefront: The Revolution initially sounded interesting, it was poorly executed. Similarly, while the storyline gripped us in the beginning, it soon lost momentum and by the end of the game, we didn’t really care about what was going on – and that doesn’t happen very often. For a game to do well in terms of its storyline, gamers have to form relationships with the characters and in Homefront: The Revolution, the characters aren’t well developed and we didn’t form any kind of relationship with them.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There are two things that Dambuster Studios does get right: Combat and weapon customisation. The first of these is thrilling because it’s not just your standard coverand-shoot FPS, as you have to keep moving from cover to cover,
We found that if we camped out in one (well covered) location and tried to take on the KPA reinforcements they would soon outflank us
exploiting the environment in any way that you can. We found that if we camped out in one (well covered) location and tried to take on the KPA reinforcements, they would soon outflank and surround us.
It’s a similar issue when you’re trying to sneak around in the Red Zone – the NPC’s aren’t blind, and if you go anywhere near the patrol you will be spotted and pursued. The fun thing about pursuits (in the Red Zone at least) is that you can jump on a motorbike and speed away, often using the crumbling buildings as ramps and bridges to escape the KPA. The intelligence of the NPCs is pretty good, though not as impressive as the weapon customisation.
In a Fallout-esque way, you can scavenge the environment for tools and materials that can be used to provide upgrades to your existing arsenal. The upgrades can completely change the weapon, such as upgrading a pistol to an SMG, or you can add attachments to existing weapons, like adding a grenade launcher to an AK-47. This offers the player multiple ways to approach any situation – you can go in all guns blazing with a barrage of bullets and grenades, or you can play it smart and use a silenced pistol instead. There’s a wide range of weapons available too, which should suit a variety of playing styles, ranging from a pistol to a bow and arrow.
The great thing is that these customisations are easily switched out and, provided you’re in cover, you can switch mods mid-battle to give you the upper hand when you most need it. It’s not a game menu either, as the player looks down at the weapon and physically modifies it in-hand, giving a more authentic feel to the game.
If you enjoy a strong storyline in a game, then this isn’t for you, as even though the concept is interesting, it’s not enough to keep you gripped. However, the combat and weapon customisation should be enough to keep most people entertained while they hammer through the campaign, causing riots throughout Philadelphia and leading the Resistance against the KPA.