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PS3 Review – Homefront

At E3 2010, I got my first real glimpse of Homefront. In a closed-door presentation, I was introduced to a war-torn, Korean-occupied America. I left the room with chills. “Homefront was going to be a big one”, I thought. Since then, the game has seen its fair share of hype, especially aimed toward members of the press. At that same E3, an entire parking lot was “occupied” by Korean soldiers. More recently, at GDC, Korean troops marched in front of Moscone Center. A Korean BBQ taco truck sat outside the venue, giving free food to the hungry developers and journalists. It seemed as though THQ was doing everything right with Homefront — the marketing was there, there was plenty of hype and the story, written by Hollywood screenwriter John Milius, was unique from other shooters.

Homefront was locked and loaded, with its sights set on the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield. Unfortunately, Homefront is a terrible misfire with many casualties of war.

Ruthless North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il dies, paving the way for his son, Kim Jong-Un to take the reigns of the guerrilla nation. Through his leadership, Jong-Un unifies North and South Korea, forming the Greater Korean Republic. Over the years, the GKR’s miliary power grows. At the same time, the rest of the world is in conflict, no nation more so than America — where the economy is virtually destroyed. Gas prices have hit near $20 per gallon prices, causing widespread fear and chaos. America is seemingly immobilized. And that’s when the GKR release an EMP blast that wipes out America’s digital infrastructure. The Greater Korean Republic has brought the war to our own backyard.

The opening scenes continue to depict a dreadfully bleak Korean-occupied America. Korean forces are rounding up American citizens and showing no mercy. A young child cries hysterically as he watches his parents slain before his very eyes. You, as the humble pilot of few (see: none) words, Richard Jacobs, watch idly by from a prisoner escort bus. Everything thus far reaffirms those chills I felt back at E3 2010. Then, the bus you’re aboard is slammed head on, a team of American resistance fighters help you free, and the single-player campaign begins. So does the disappointment.

Jacobs is instantly whisked into firefight after firefight against Korean troops, with a handful cast of American resistance fighters by your side. With such a compelling storyline, you would think that the secondary characters you spend the entire game with would help build upon it, maybe explaining why they’ve chosen to defend their country. Instead of hearing about love ones lost, moments of heroism or anything remotely human to form a bond with these characters, your character is basically yelled at and forced to follow the moronic AI characters throughout the game. There’s never a sense of camaraderie with your team. If anything, before the game abruptly ends without any closure, you’ll end up nurturing a strong distaste for your team.

As the storyline tanks, so does any evidence of smart design. Every time your blood gets pumping from a mediocre gunfight, you’re almost instantly taken out of the action by having to wait for your teammates to reach the next area or open a door. Invisible lines prevent you from moving forward or exploring some of the more interesting looking areas of the game. Enemy movement is robotic and unnatural. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gameplay is your standard FPS fare. Shootout, run to the next area, shoot some more, with a stealth sniper mission mixed in. The actual shooting isn’t even good — mainly due to the lack of variety with the weapons. More times than I could count I found myself attempting to pick up a weapon, only to find myself confused, thinking I didn’t even pick up a new weapon. Only to realize that I had, the weapons are just that similar. The one glimmer of hope in the gameplay was the Goliath targeter, but even this isn’t as enjoyable as it could have been, as it only allows you to scope out targets with binoculars and Goliath fires its rockets. Now remember, Jacobs, the main character is a pilot. But it’s not until almost the last mission before you even get a chance to man an aircraft. Sadly, the helicopter mission is just as frustrating as everything else.

Graphically, the game looks like an early PS3 title. Character faces are stiff, textures are bland. Worst of all are the trees and brush surrounding the streets. It’s the subtle details that Homefront really fails at.

Homefront also does nothing to help the stigma that American’s are fat, lazy and hypersexual. Apparently, the entire West coast of America is littered with White Castle and Hooters restaurants. And those two restaurants are definitely worth fighting for!

Fortunately for Homefront, in the FPS genre, the single-player campaign isn’t usually the main draw. And Homefront has a decent enough multiplayer mode to salvage what is an utter disappointment. Multiplayer is Homefront’s knight in shining armor — it literally saves the day here. Despite being a little light on modes, what is there feels fresh thanks to the Battle Points system. Anything you do in multiplayer earns you BP that you can use to upgrade your character or bolster your loadout mid-battle. It’s a fun way to keep things interesting and ensure people are being active.

In a game that’s so focused on a story, having a decent multiplayer offering isn’t enough. Every aspect of the single-player campaign is poorly executed and designed. And when you finally push through it, the ending leaves far too much open to feel any sense of closure — you can tell that a sequel was always planned from the get go. Bad news Kaos and THQ, if this is what you give us, we don’t want anymore.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

-Disappointment and missed opportunity at every turn

-Single-player campaign is a chore

+Enjoyable multiplayer… that isn’t enough to save the game from disaster

5 out of 10