The Cleanest White Castle You'll Ever See

For Homefront, Kaos Studios brings us a world that may ultimately be more important than its story. But does it all hold together?
Author: Ryan Green
Published: March 20, 2011
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To state the obvious, the modern millitary shooter is a dominant force in the gaming space. For every Killzone, there is a Call of Duty. Bet a Resistance and I'll raise you a Battlefield. We don't shoot lasers or phasers, but RPGs and bullets. So adding yet another game, featuring dudes killing other dudes in the middle of a hopeless conflict that would otherwise be crushed in moments in reality, would result in no flinching on your part.

But what if I said that crazy-man John Milius was going to take you by the hand and drag you with one hand (clutching his inhaler in the other) through a conflict that is closer to home? Sure, plenty of films and even games have now looked at the fall of the U.S. or an invasion of some sort, but this guy wrote and directed Red Dawn! While it is true that Homefront does have a conspiracy-theorists wet dream of a backstory, the multiplayer may be the reason you keep this game around.

The background for Homefront is one based in reality and scuttlebutt, to some degree. Due to the United States being overstretched in the global environment and a poor economy, the country rapidly falls from grace. In the meantime, Korea unites under the rule of Kim Jong-un and begins to rapidly grows as a power. Notably, they launch a satilite that was to replace the aging Global Positioning System, which turns out to really be an EMP that wipes out the U.S. Power grid. After irradiating the water systems and crushing the standing army, the Korean People's Army occupies most of America and has turned the "land of opportunity" into a desolate existance.

If the idea of mass graves, systematic execution, and concentration camps disturbed you when examining the holocaust, Homefront might not mesh with you. The singleplayer script is one that focuses on a possible reality that is one of suffering, anger, and fear. To that end, the game excels at toying with your emotions by violating a familiar world of suburban living and high-stakes electronic shopping. Frankly, I don't want to live in a world where TigerDirect.com is the big-box store in the country. My weak constitution cannot handle that end-game scenario. In any regard, the world built around Homefront is rather solid, but how things play out are nothing more than a flag-waving romp of a good time.

Like all other first person shooters that wrap a story around part of their game, Homefront has a cast of characters that somehow pull off the most inane operations with the least statistical-sound outcome. The crew behind this caper are nice to have with you, although they tend to fall into some general archetypes, but not to a fault. The biggest problem with the game's story is how little you spend getting to know each character. For a game that prides itself on John Milius being aboard and directing them, it never focuses much on developing your resistance squad. It felt more like an action movie even more than it played because you didn't really know who you were with, just the hell they were trapped in. You could argue that the world itself is the most important character in the story, as it is the most fleshed out one you have. Unfortunately, the context doesn't drive you forward like character conflict does.

When you get right down to it, you do spend more time with this world in a game than a film, but the story can be completed in five to seven hours. I finished the game in about six hours, but it is doable in less if you are a shooter god and you ignore all 61 collectible newspapers that are scattered throughout the campaign. The collectibles (and the slew of trophies for the campaign) will likely be your only reason to return to the singleplayer, so that may be an advantage to a short story mode. For those interested, the newspapers fill in a large chunk of the timeline in more detail, which is ideal for someone that hasn't read the Homefront: The Voice of Freedom tie-in book or has been subjegated to the game's media blitz (or "propaganda", if you fancy) leading up to its release. Aside from a few narrative sequences and recaps from the pirate radio engineer "The Voice of Freedom" (HINT: he is the main character in that book), you won't be finding much else to relive.
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