Disclosure and honesty are important traits in every walk of life, even more so in journalism and critique. So it is with absolutely no trepidation that I admit that I did not complete Homefront: The Revolution because it gave me absolutely no reason to do so. Not story, not visual style or mechanics. Put simply, Homefront sucks. Keep reading and I’ll tell you exactly why.
• Developer: Dam Buster Studios
• Publisher: Deep Silver
• Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
• Also Available On: Xbox One, PC
• Release Date: Available Now
Homefront’s first failing is its plot. Set in a fictional near future where the united states has been invaded and oppressed by the people’s republic of North Korea, the game places you in the shoes of Ethen Brady (winner of this year’s Most Generic Name award) a recent recruit to the guerrilla resistance building in the city of Philadelphia. It’s the task of Ethan and his compatriots to fend off the Korean invasion and restore Freedom to US of A. Now this could be a generic outline elevated by decent characterisation or compelling twists, but sadly neither of those things are present.
Ethan is a typical silent protagonist, a pair of hands who does not interact with any of the other people around him. They interact with him however, spewing lines of subpar dialogue and unconvincing expletives. And the fact that this apparently well liked soldier never utter a single word or even nods his head in confirmation doesn’t ever seem to get mentioned. I’m sure it was probably the intention to give Brady the role of a cipher through which the player can experience the story more personally but it just made him seem extremely stupid.
I can’t really blame him for not wanting to speak though, as the people around him are almost universally loathsome. On Brady’s first encounter with a rebel cell he’s been sent to work with, they take him for a spy, knock him unconscious and threaten to torture him for information. Brady is moments away from serious blood loss before a higher up magically recognises him on the basis that they were expecting someone. The situation could have been avoided if he’d said anything, such as ‘Please don’t torture me, I’m on your side”. But he doesn’t and instead we’re expected to just brush the whole incident under the rug and throw our lot in with these murderous psychopaths. In fact the one character that seems to be convinced that the victimised people of Philadelphia need medical care more than being given Molotov cocktails and a lack of training is regarded by the other characters and the game itself as a whiny bleeding heart. I have no problem with vicious warmongers being the more sympathetic side of a conflict, if they were at least interesting. But sadly they are not. Maybe later on the more horrible characters get some kind of comeuppance, but I wouldn’t know because the game seemed determined to stop me from playing it.
Saying that Homefront the revolution is glitchy is unfair to glitchy games. Skyrim is glitchy, because of the sheer volume of things which the game tries to create and maintain, all the while giving the player real time obstacles to interact with and overcome. Homefront on the other hand is not so much glitchy as broken. The environments, weapons and character models have a generic grey brown urban decay rendered in strictly last-gen resolution and fidelity, which makes the catastrophe of a frame rate very hard to excuse. When I first started playing the game it dropped frames like a one armed clown juggling baked potatoes. It got better over the following few days as the game was repeatedly patched, and at the time of writing only seems to lose frames when you do something taxing like exploration or combat. This makes the already sluggish shooting and movement feel like trying to move through treacle.
In a game which prioritises accuracy and hit and run combat, the inability to either aim, hit or run seems like a very grievous omission. It also freezes entirely every time you complete any objective, load the game or restart at a checkpoint. This led to an exceptionally frustrating experience where I kept getting killed, respawning directly in the middle of a group of enemies, could do nothing for a couple of seconds while I stood frozen and then couldn’t hit anyone because the game started putting out single digit frames per second.
Mechanically there’s not much to write home about either. It’s a generic open world FPS, with all of it’s cues taken from far better games like Far Cry and Crysis. You complete various objectives, liberate enemy base camps and earn currency which can be spent on weapon and character upgrades. It’s all utterly generic without even the decency to be well executed. The city itself is more frustrating than fun to explore with a confusing layout and a parkour system that seems to decide in the moment whether or not you can grab that ledge you were aiming for. Enemies will soak up numerous bullets and kill you after a few hits. The game is designed to be played in a guerrilla warfare style, but the placement and numbers of enemies seem to negate that philosophy. if they wanted to make out-and-out combat difficult that would be a decision I could get behind, but the complete lack of any meaningful strategies and mechanics you could use instead, removes any chance of satisfying or at the very least acceptable gameplay.
The sole interesting mechanic is the ability to modify and even entirely retrofit your guns on the fly, allowing you to change your assault rifle into a grenade launcher and back again in the space of few moments. The problem here is that it makes you stand completely still whilst doing this, so unless you’ve made sure you’re completely out of combat when you try you’ll inevitably get killed right in the middle of the lengthy animation. Oh and it’s borrowed entirely from the Crysis games, so it doesn’t even get points for originality.
If it had been properly put together then Homefront: The Revolution might have been a perfectly average and entirely uninteresting game. But as it stands it’s barely playable and so utterly unrewarding that you might wonder why you bothered in the first place. If you’re really starving for a game like this, get Far Cry 4 instead, which at least has elephants. Or Crysis 2, which runs and plays better. Or literally any other FPS made in the past 5 years really. If they fix all the performance issues it might be worth a heavily discounted purchase, but given the number of preferable alternatives I’d advise staying away.