‘Homefront: The Revolution’ Review
Platforms PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Genre First-Person Shooter
Publisher Deep Silver Developer Dambuster Studios
Platform Played PlayStation 4
The original Homefront contained a unique premise, one that saw a unified Korea invade and conquer the United States, but unfortunately it failed to produce a well-polished experience to accompany the interesting premise. Fast forward five years and Homefront: The Revolution’s Korean occupied United States is still as fascinating as it was in 2011. But frustratingly Homefront: The Revolution manages to produce another unpolished adventure in the series; an instalment that is easily one of the worst games released this year.
Homefront: The Revolution introduces the Korean-occupied United States with a short introduction video, which brands Korea as an evil Apple. Korea began releasing high quality smart phones and tablets, before turning their sights to weapons. Of course, these weapons all included backdoor functionality that allowed the country to switch off all of the United States weaponry in an instant. This is how the united forces of South and North Korea (the KPA), became the rulers of the world’s biggest super power. That is as far as Homefront: The Revolution is willing to go in terms of explaining why Korea decided to occupy the nation and little clarification is ever explained regarding the rest of the country. Instead, players focus their efforts on taking back Philadelphia from these evil overlords and bringing peace back to the people – by killing everyone and everything in sight.
The issue with Homefront: The Revolution is the fact the story ends up being a generic plot, filled with stereotypical characters. Making matters worse the main cast of “heroes” never feel like the good guys, which begins after you are saved from Korean interrogation by The Resistance movement; only for them to start torturing you in the same fashion. I can understand the premise that war changes everyone and that the moral line becomes ever-increasingly thin during these times, but it makes our band of supposed heroes unlikable and uninteresting. The character players inhabit is not much better. He is a silent protagonist who has no actual natural thought in his entire body and there are many situations that would end in an instant if he could merely mumble a single word. Our hero is Brady and due to his silent nature we never get any personality or attachment to the character, instead Brady simply comes across as a well-trained lapdog that will sacrifice himself at any cost.
These characters are made even worse due to the laughable writing and poor voice acting. For instance, characters will state their opinion, only to change their minds within seconds. Coupled with the fact the written dialogue itself is cliché, bland and uninteresting. The entire dialogue exposition through Homefront: The Revolution feels like it has been written by a handful of writers whom have never discussed who these characters are or what they believe in, instead simply writing lines and attaching them to whatever character is in the room. It throws cohesive character personality and plot progression out the window to instead simply provide cliché line in hopes of sparking a small glint of excitement from this well-played out action narrative. NPC characters within the Resistance will praise your victories one moment, only to start shooting obscenities your way for simply attempting to move past their frozen in time character models. I also must mention most of the lines delivered are almost incomprehensible due to constant audio dropouts and dips in the sound volume. It is a frustrating experience to behold and it became almost laughable during the closing sections of the campaign.
Homefront: The Revolution struggles to provide a shred of narrative entertainment through the extended campaign; but it also struggles to deliver serviceable first person shooter gameplay. This is mainly due to the fact shooting is simply not fun. Weapons in Homefront have an insane amount of recoil, which is made worse due to the fact KPA enemies have a shocking amount of tolerance to gunfire – even to the head. The KPA soldiers will quickly overwhelm you at every turn during combat sequences, due to the sheer amount of bullets required to take down a single enemy combatant.
Making matters worse there were countless times where either enemies I were fighting would simply vanish (including actual vehicles) or new enemies would simply spawn out of thin air in front of my character to provide an instant moment of death and frustration. The unpolished shooting features of Homefront: The Revolution usually motivated me to simply run through legions of enemies as I headed towards my objective, and since these AI enemies couldn’t find sand at a beach, I was able to escape with no problem whatsoever. Homefront does allow the player to recruit NPC allies to help take down these bullet-tolerant KPA soldiers, but a majority of the time these newly recruited allies will simply block your path, either through small gaps, doorways, or during hectic battles. While the KPA soldiers may offer little in terms of actual intelligence, your Resistance brethren are like an army of incoherent goldfish.
Homefront: The Revolution does however do an excellent job at creating visually appealing and unique weaponry. As this is a war torn city that has been demolished by the KPA, weapons are created with loose parts of anything Resistance members can find. These weapon designs look crude, unnatural and useless – but that is what makes this home-grown armoury of weapons so iconic. The visual design of these weapons is an aspect that must be commended.
Each weapon can also be customised on the fly in a similar fashion to the Crysis series. Unfortunately utilising your weapons, items and crafting abilities is made extremely difficult due to a painful to navigate weapon wheel; which actually struggles to cycle through all the weapons in your inventory, instead producing a lucky dip method of weapon cycling. There were countless times where my death came about due to the clunky weapon wheel features, which mirror the crude visual design of weapons – producing a clunky, unnatural and useless feature that simply adds to the infuriating number of combat issues.
Homefront does offer some mission variety to keep you away from weapon-based situations. Each section of Homefront: The Revolution’s world can be reclaimed from the KPA, which requires players to re-tune radio stations, save civilians and regain control of KPA strongholds. These sections are eerily similar to the Ubisoft method of reclaiming regions which can be found in Far Cry, Watch Dogs and The Division. While capturing and reclaiming these areas does offer an interesting departure from the combat scenarios, I was disappointed that after completing all the tasks necessary to re-take the territory I was merely provided with a small cut scene that simply changed the colour of all the propaganda throughout the area from red to blue. Even after you reclaim the area for “the people” the now liberated civilians will simply trash the area, burning cars, smashing letter boxes and basically rioting throughout the city; which made me reconsider if the Resistance was actually helping the country in the first place.
While Homefront: The Revolution may provide more open areas than its predecessor, Homefront: The Revolution is far from the open world first person shooter that it claimed to be. Homefront is actually a series of small world sections, with tiny populated areas and slightly larger areas that mainly consist of broken buildings and baron wasteland. While this method of world creation has been used by many successful first person shooters, Homefront’s version provides 30 seconds to 1 minute of loading screens every time the player attempts to enter a new area. There is actually in the story that required Brady to traverse from area after area, which ended up producing almost 5 minutes of loading time alongside possibly 30 seconds of actual gameplay. These sorts of absurd load times are not acceptable in mobile releases, let alone AAA shooters.
Homefront: The Revolution’s lengthy load times could be excused if the end product ran well, but that is simply not the case. Homefront suffers from some of the most inexcusable texture pop-ins I have seen in recent memory, not to mention these textures themselves look extremely outdated and bland, rivaling visuals of a PlayStation 3 game. But unfortunately that isn’t even Homefront’s biggest technical problem. This main issue comes in the form of constant 5 – 10 second moments of freezing during chaotic enemy encounters, any time you exit a vendor, or even when an auto save is taking place.
I could easily continue explaining the dozens upon dozens of technical issues Homefront produced throughout my 25 plus hour adventure, but instead here is a brief list of some of the major issues. Frame-rate drips during chaotic (or small) encounters, game crashes, enemies freezing in standing positions upon death, NPC’s acting as if they are holding weapons when the item is not present, sluggish cut scenes and continuous audio issues. Homefront: The Revolution is a technical mess even after multiple online patch updates, making me question why a game featuring this many problems was released; let alone as a fall priced experience. Homefront: The Revolution’s plethora is inexcusable.
Homefront: The Revolution does offer more than just the single player campaign, with the online Resistance mode allowing players to join others to tackle small bite-sized scenarios. While the Resistance multiplayer mode did offer more entertainment than the single player campaign, the multiplayer offering still feels a long way behind other multiplayer shooter experiences and it still suffers from the poor shooting and AI features that were seen in the campaign. The missions themselves consist of mini KPA missions that can be completed in an average of ten minutes each, requiring players to defeat waves of enemies, eliminate targets or defend an area. The concern with Homefront’s multiplayer offering is the lack of players that are actually playing it. It took me almost an hour to find one other player, while a second player did not join our squad for another 45 minutes. While there is a better experience to be had online, Homefront’s lack of online community makes enjoying these scenarios a tough challenge.
During one of the final missions an AI driven vehicle found itself stuck on a small rock. After about 5 minutes and a dozen attempts, the AI finally found a way around the rock and proceeded to not move for another few minutes, before finally making it to its destination. Its moments like this that plague the entire single player campaign, and despite a far more pleasant experience online, the lack of an online community make these online scenarios almost completely unplayable.
Homefront: The Revolution is a horrible mess and perhaps this is mostly due to the troubled development process the game experienced before finally releasing upon the world. But in my opinion that is no excuse to release a game plagued by so many technical problems, unsatisfying combat and ultimately, an experience devoid of actual fun.
Once again the interesting premise of the Homefront universe has ultimately failed, and after two unsuccessful attempts to produce a series around this unique idea, it might be finally time to put the Homefront series to rest.
Unique home-grown visual weapon design.
Generic plot filled with stereotypical characters.
An inexcusable technical mess – Frame-rate, audio, load time issues.
Lackluster gameplay with poor AI (both friendly and foe).
Clunky weapon selection system.
The Score: 3.6
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