When Homefront came out several years ago for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, I thought it was a pretty neat alternate take on the usual Call of Duty clone, with American soldiers fighting to take their country back from a Korean army that had overtaken it by force. There was a lot of talk about a sequel, but we didn’t get it for several years. Now, though, Deep Silver thought it was a good idea to bring it back with a reboot, in the form of Homefront: The Revolution. However, I can’t help but wonder why it didn’t put more thought into the actual gameplay.
The story is still about the same, but it’s done differently. Rather than taking force in our country, the KPA simply shuts down our electronics with a simple push of a button – including the military. That allows their forces to waltz in and essentially take control, setting up perimeters and hunting down rebels that refuse to join their ranks. As one of the remaining few looking to turn the tide, it’s your job to push back against KPA forces and take back Philadelphia.
Or rather, it would be your job if the story mattered at all. Unfortunately, Dambuster Studios kind of falters in this area, as it never really rises above the typical military norm. The enemy is pretty much faceless with very little motivation behind it; there are very few twists and turns to keep you engaged; and worst of all, the members of the Resistance are pretty much jerks. When you first run into their base, you’re beaten senseless, tied up, have your nipples threatened with a knife, and, when they suddenly realize who you are, quickly apologize and refuse medication. And yet you’re forced to join up with them because the KPA is far worse. Yeah, right.
Once you get through the opening story (which you can’t skip – very annoying), you’ll enter the open world of Philadelphia, where your job is to overtake points, stop patrols and eventually reach more of the city. The way it’s set up is pretty neat, and if you prefer, you can run around the area on a motorbike, which doesn’t play half bad. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to the actual missions and the shooting, Homefront: The Revolution just doesn’t hold up.
The gameplay just doesn’t feel right at all, as I had problems with accuracy on several occasions, costing me precious bullets and forcing me to run up to guards and stab them while being critically injured by others. The game is completely unfair when it comes to ammunition, and it’s likely to piss you off when you return to a spawn point and have to start again, even if that means one less guy to kill. It just gets old, and really fast.
The motorbike is a cool element, but it’s just for show, as you can’t use it to run down KPA guards (it just whizzes past), and you have to get off in order to shoot at them. Worse yet, there’s no way to take control of enemy tanks and do some real damage – you’re stuck on foot, with the minimal amount of ammunition you’re carrying anyway. The upgrade system has some merit – and it’s kind of cool changing a pistol to an SMG on the fly – but it’s all for naught if the controls don’t cooperate.
In addition, Homefront: The Revolution just doesn’t look that good. At all. Even with the day one patch, the visuals are average at best, with a lot of murkiness on the screen, bad frame rate issues and lackluster animations. Worse yet, your melee attacks take too long, leaving you wide open for attack from other soldiers while you finish your animation. The other characters aren’t that great either, with male and female characters almost blending in together in terms of design. Ho-hum.
The sound doesn’t fare much better. The music’s actually very good, a great collection of war-based tunes that plays in the backdrop. However, most of it gets drowned out by poorly delivered dialogue and merely standard sound effects. There’s nothing that really goes out of its way here to make you feel threatened – it’s just “meh.” So much for making you feel motivated to finishing this war.
The game’s single player just doesn’t have the long-term appeal to see it through to the very end (I did, and the ending was a letdown), and the Resistance Mode isn’t too much better. Fighting alongside friends in co-op is a neat idea, but there are only six missions in all, and they’re just as badly structured as the single player ones. Chances are you and your buddies will play for half an hour, then go back to something more engaging, like Uncharted 4 or Doom.
While some ambition may have been put into the concept of Homefront: The Revolution, everything else just falls flat. The game looks pretty bad compared to other stuff on the market (it even resembles a PS3 shooter at some points), and the gameplay never really finds its groove, due to too many limitations. Plus, the lack of traditional multiplayer will likely keep a lot of folks away, as that’s pretty much their bread and butter. Homefront: The Revolution may put up a valiant effort in terms of its ideas, but as a shooter, it’s clearly lost the war.