You say you want a revolution?
Deep Silver’s Homefront: The Revolution invites us to take another look at a USA on its knees post-invasion and occupied by North Korea. Whilst I enjoyed 2011’s Homefront, the game received a mixed reaction from fans, with mediocre sales likely being a contributing factor in the demise of publisher THQ.
This sequel has had a somewhat convoluted and difficult birth. The game was originally in development with the ill-fated Crytek UK, whose parent company briefly owned the IP. Crytek sold the franchise to Koch Media shuttered their UK division.
Homefront: The Revolution’s eventual developers, Dambuster Studios is made up from former Crytek staffers who continued to work on the game. Still utilising Crytek’s CryEngine, the game has been published by Koch subsidiary Deep Silver.
Despite the development troubles, Homefront: The Revolution isn’t bad, but does carry the scars of it’s rough upbringing.
Apart from the title and the Korean antagonists, Homefront: The Revolution has nothing to do with its predecessor. This is a new game, with a new premise- a reboot or reimagining.
In this alternative future, the unified Korea of Homefront is a technological powerhouse and major hardware supplier to the United States. When the US defaults on payments for the country’s military tech, Korea pulls the plug, using a kill-switch, destroying the US military capabilities leaving the county open to occupation by the Korean People’s Army.
Players take on the role of rookie, but up-and-coming rebel Ethan Brady, taking of missions and side quest in order to further the cause and make life as hard as possible for the occupying KPA.
Instead of being a scripted mission-based affair like it’s predecessor, this time Homefront gives players and open world, the city of Philadelphia circa 2029, four years into the occupation, to play in.
The city is beautifully crafted, featuring a full day/night cycle that radically alters your play style. The gameplay seeks to emulate the sort of guerrilla warfare that a resistance movement would need to undertake in order to weaken a clearly superior force.
The Philadelphia of Homefront is split into zones. The green zone is pretty peaceful allowing you to move about relatively easy. The enemies in the yellow zone are a bit on edge and will recognise you as a rebel- you will need to keep a low profile. The red zone is a bombed out hellhole where anything goes.
The beautiful CryEngine, which has been bringing top-class graphics to games since 2007’s Crysis, creates almost photo-real visuals but at a performance hit that is more likely caused by the developer’s clumsy coding than underpowered hardware.
For the most part the game runs like butter, but every now and again the framerate dips. This erratic display, cripples the gameplay, making what should be easily and AAA game into a somewhat frustrating affair.
Homefront’s shortcomings are even more annoying due to the game having so much potential.
There’s some great weapon customisation using parts purchased by raising cash from looted soldiers and stashes. But whilst the weapons offer some satisfying gunfights with KPA troops, the gameplay relies heavily on stealth.
Outnumbered, players must seek to avoid the enemy were possible and escape to safety if discovered. The game play is a more realistic interpretation of a resistance movement fighting from the shadows rather than some sort of run and gun one-man army.
The enemy AI isn’t the best, making it rather easy to escape pursuit. There are times, though, when the enemy seems to spy you right through walls, and yet at other times you can literally hide in plain sight.
If you fancy a challenge against other players, then you are out of luck. There’s no competitive multiplayer this time. Resistance mode apparently offers online co-operative gameplay, but I can’t tell you about it as no one else was playing it during my review time.
Homefront: The Revolution is a bit of a missed opportunity right now. It’s a game that shows promise, but is a little too rough around the edges- which seems to be a consistent problem with Deep Silver games. I am hoping that the developers sort out the performance issues, rather than abandon it, as I think beyond the issues, there’s a great game in there.