Wot I Think: Homefront (Single Player)

By John Walker on March 19th, 2011 at 7:22 pm.

Ah, remember the good old days of Nam, eh?

Homefront was finally released in the UK yesterday after a pointless three day delay. Unfortunately a wayward postie failed to deliver our copy in time for a day one review. Day two it is then, because wow, this isn’t very long. But is it concentrated glory, still worth your time? Read on to find out Wot I Think.

Squatting down to take a Homefront.

There’s this strange bravado amongst games reviewers that I’ve noticed. People like to boast they finished a game in the shortest time imaginable, as if that’s some kind of achievement. It’s nonchalantly phrased. “Coming in at around six hours,” they’ll say, because eight is around six, right? And then someone on another site reads this and thinks, “Six?! It took me seven! Um, I’m going to call it five.” Because god forbid you take longer – it would mean you must be bad at the game! Or, perhaps, you took your time, explored it a bit more, stopped to blow up the roses. Games aren’t a race, and it would be rather nice if my cousins in this business could stop the one-upping. Homefront took me four hours.

I wish I were exaggerating. In fact, because I’ve read so much about the game only lasting four or five, I was determined to time it as honestly as possible. But then people kept interrupting me, IMing about stuff, the phone rang, I had to pee. That all racks up on Steam’s record of how long I was going to take. So quitting out after the end credits I was slightly mystified to see I’d played for four hours. Although, in fairness, I really didn’t want it to last much longer.

Homefront is barely a game. I’m drawing the line here. It’s an interactive cutscene with occasional shooting galleries. So far has the Call Of Duty Copying gone that it is believed the ideal game is one in which the player is barely involved. In Homefront, for the majority of the game, you feel like an unwanted irritant. It’s hard to capture quite how much this game seems to hate you for wanting to be involved, and the extent to which it goes to ensure you rarely are. But I’m going to try.

Oh, the premise. It’s 2027 or thereabouts, and a series of (pretty well argued) events has seen a Korean occupation of North America. You are, in theory, in the resistance, fighting back for territory against the new leaders. But what made Homefront look so unique when it was first announced, and indeed what makes it look absolutely incredible today, is the setting: suburbia. These aren’t warn-torn fields, or post-apocalyptic cities. These are American streets and parking lots, familiar homes and playgrounds to Western eyes. And – when outside at least – it has been stunningly realised. From the extraordinary detail of the trees to the uncanny sensation of seeing war occur in such vividly realised neighbourhoods, it’s a technically remarkable piece of work. Apart from the insanely googly-eyed faces, it’s a massive success. To look at.

Let’s talk about doorways. Alec’s enormously popular Locked Door post from 2009 lamented games’ ridiculous habit of filling their world with doors through which we’ll never pass. Homefront manages to take that idiocy a league deeper. In the entire game you are allowed to open one door. Doors are inert, dead objects when you try to interact with them. They have to be opened by someone else for you. One of your companions. You can’t be trusted with doors. So they may open it for you, but then talk to someone else, blocking the way. There’s no way past them. You have to wait your turn. Your turn is last.

Oh my goodness, do you have to wait your turn. One sequence sees a companion open a trapdoor. I was there first, because the game is so determined that I always be in last place that I spent the entire time fighting to be first just to screw things up. “Don’t fire until I say so!” would bark one of the NPCs. BANG! I would instantly respond, no matter how much more tricky that would make the battle that followed. If they were going to treat me like an imbecile, by golly I was going to act like one. But back to the trapdoor. The guy opens it and climbs down, so now it’s my turn. I walk toward it, I mindlessly press “E” even though there isn’t a prompt on screen giving me permission. But I’m shoved out of the way by the NPC behind me. Oh, I think. After you I guess. But no, not after him, because there’s another NPC who’s more important than me, and she gets to go next, once again physically barging me out of the way to ensure I’m in the last place in which I apparently belong.

Did you ever have to hang out with some bigger kids when you were younger? They were obliged to have you with them, and they were going to make sure their resentment was known. Yes, they have to bring you with them, but they don’t have to let you have any fun. That’s the sensation throughout the first two-thirds of the game, of just not being wanted. On the odd occasion when there’s some useful cover not taken up by an NPC, stand in it and they’ll inevitably shove you out into the open. And on some occasions it feels as though they’re deliberately screwing with you. You’ll see them ahead of you (because even if you do manage to squeeze past them, they’ll magically be ahead again anyway), standing, doing nothing. So the coast is clear, you figure. But no, it turns out they’re just staring at a Korean enemy who will shoot you in your face when you come around the corner.

Perhaps feeling guilty, they do occasionally let you play with the Goliath tank. This is a remotely controlled armoured vehicle with some hefty firepower. You’re give the button that lets it fire. For a few seconds, here and there, inevitably ruined by men with EMP weapons that mean it’s mostly useless. When the game was first demoed in 2009, the Goliath tank was the selling point. In the end it appears in the game for probably a total of fifteen minutes. And it’s not much fun – you target things, it blows them up, the scene changes. Plod plod plod.

OH YES! The walking! My goodness. They clearly knew the game was coming in ridiculously short when they set the enforced walking pace. My grandmother walks faster than that, and she died when I was 16. It’s like a joke, a spoof of how slowly a game may make you move. You’ll hold down Shift to run the whole time, knowing it won’t work, because if you didn’t it would mean you’d given up hope, and then there’d be nothing. I think I’d have finished it in under three hours if it didn’t keep having us play Glacier Races.

I’ve hinted that the final third isn’t as bad, and that’s true. We are of course talking about literally an hour of sometimes decent game here, and only decent. But there’s a nice sequence in which you’re fighting your way through the countryside which feels that bit more tense, a little less being dragged by your teeth. Also, you’re left alone for the first time too, so you get to feel like you’re actually playing. It doesn’t last long, but when it’s replaced it’s replaced with some other interesting things to do, stuff to fly, and so on. It’s far too little, far too late, and still peppered with idiotic pockets of tiresome waves of combat in which your NPCs do nothing other than shout at you to hurry up while getting in your way. However, had the whole game been like this, it would have been something to recommend playing.

It’s interesting to compare this to Bulletstorm. Both games are set in corridors so tight that both your shoulders rub along the walls, and both offer absolutely no freedom for alternative routes or sneaking around the back. But in Bulletstorm you’re the one at the front. You’re the person playing. In Homefront you’re barely necessary.

This seems to be something an increasing number of gamers want. I cannot figure out what has happened to the international psyche when we deliberately seek out games that make us feel so subservient, and so irrelevant. I’m sure I remember the FPS genre being the one that let you feel like a bloody hero the entire time, one man against the world, unleashing unlikely destruction. The CoDs, Medal Of Honor, and now Homefront are determined to take you down a peg or two, remind you that you’re really a nobody, and if you died the world would pretty much carry on the same without you. Gee, thanks games. But whereas Call Of Duty, and to a far lesser extent MoH, carry this off with a slickness and performance that seems to entrance (not for me, sadly), Homefront’s cynical plot and ghastly attempts at commentary reveal the empty format for what it is.

And wow, the commentary is ghastly. From the spiteful scene at the start in which you watch some parents shot against a wall in front of their infant son, who runs to his dead mother, shaking her clothes and screaming, it sets the tone for some clumsy and downright insulting “horror of war” rhetoric. It just doesn’t mean it, at all. The game loves war. It relishes in gory headshots and atrocities, feverishly wanking itself into oblivion every time it thinks it’s Saying Something. The final third’s epic set pieces have all the sensitivity of a Roland Emmerich film (and are just as memorable – I finished it an hour ago and I’m struggling to remember what happened.) So don’t start preaching to me about the terrible ways of mass graves. Especially if you’re going to follow that up with a scene in which I have to lie inside one with an arm draped over my head. You might call it having their cake and eating it too. With a cake made of shit.

So yes, four hours is plenty. It’s interesting how it was beginning to outstay it’s welcome, despite my finishing it in half an afternoon. A sequence crossing a famous bridge about an hour from the end (again, just phenomenally beautiful looking) had me wondering if it would be wrapping up soon, as I was done. But since it’s being released as a full price game, those not interested in investing in the multiplayer might very justifiably feel a tad ripped off.

It’s unquestionably one of the most impressive uses of the Unreal 3 Engine so far, and a significant proportion of my completion time was made up of staring at the individual leaves on the trees, or watching the sun’s rays twinkling through canopies. But spending most of my time inside it feeling like the unwanted little brother, not needed and with little to do, it feels like a massive waste. I’d love to see what could have been doing with the tech and the premise had there been some narrative sophistication and feeling of actually playing. This, however, wasn’t it.

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259 Comments »

  1. Benjamin L. says:

    This review alone should make THQ stock drop by 10 points.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Sick review. But so much for the ‘ooo this might be a nice campaign cos ur country is being invaded and u got to drive out the commies’ little bit of anticipation I had.

    • Benjamin L. says:

      Hell son, you don’t have to spend $50 on a game to do that. Move to the Southern US, we’ll set you up.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      THQ’s stock did drop on the bad news, look at the 5-day chart: http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/thqi

    • Yorick says:

      Holy crap, that’s a 25% drop in stock value in 24 hours. That’s astonishing… I guess the fabled market thinks Homefront is as rubbish as Walker does.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      I have to admit that the premise of this game, (while a bit silly), did sound pretty interesting. But then I thought a bit more and realised if I wanted that plot that it was done much better* in World in Conflict (and shock horror, the ‘enemy’ Russian plot in the expansion was good too). I’d love a game that was basically an FPS (with Homefront’s graphics) in the plot of WiC. How cool would that be?

      And while we’re on the subject of ‘US gets invaded’ type plots, have y’all heard that they’ve remade the film ‘Red Dawn’?
      Well they’ve just let slip that now they’ve filmed it, they’ve decided that maybe if they want to sell the film in China, maybe it would be a good idea not to have the Chinese as the enemy.
      So they’ve gone through and digitally ret-conned them to being North Korean. (because the film rights there obviously aren’t worth as much).
      I shit ye not.

      * I’ve not played homefront obviously so I’m just guessing the plot isn’t much cop

    • ScubaMonster says:

      The problem I have with this game is that the premise of Korea successfully pulling off a land invasion on the US is a bit ridiculous. The only power they’d have is if they used nukes. Barring that, the idea itself is pretty comical. This whole scenario would have been a bit more believable if they used China or something.

    • Kadayi says:

      With scuba on this. The whole premise just seems so far fetched it’s amazing it got the green light. I mean the Russian invasion in MW2 was daft enough, but at least the Russians are still considered a superpower of sorts. I can only assume they opted for Korea over China simply because pissing off the Chinese isn’t the sort of thing you want to do given they are an expanding market.

    • Hunam says:

      Everything I’ve read, including this review makes a point of saying that well.. it does kinda work in the story. But as I said to another post, if this is the sort of thing that makes you shake your head a video game stories then you must not have played many games in the last 10 years….

    • BAshment says:

      Watch out its the realism police WHAM!!!!! Take that ludicrous plot.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      @Hunam – The problem is this game is taking itself so seriously and trying to convey emotion, but then attempts to sell all of that with a B movie plot. It clashes and just doesn’t seem very well done. If it weren’t for that, I couldn’t care less, I’ve played plenty of games with ridiculous plots.

    • Dhatz says:

      this is about as shocking not fo find Freedom Fighters here as not finding Beyond Good & Evil in the females on female characters panel from PAX.

    • Stromko says:

      Positioning North Korea as an invader as opposed to China is a bit cowardly and cynical. It probably won’t happen for a very long time, but if the U.S. were actually invaded, right now China is the only nation close to being able to pull it off and with the right attitude to want to do it. They are indeed an expanding market, and the U.S. taking 1/3rd of the world’s resources for itself isn’t in their best interests. Unfortunately there’s also a great deal of flag-waving nationalism over there (much like in my own country), so there’d be a whole lot of whining if anyone dared to set up China as an enemy in any piece of entertainment.

    • TSF says:

      I played the game 2 times and finished in approximately 5 hours each. I am not impresses with it’s length, although the story line and graphics were good. All in all I’d give it a 5 out of 10. Personally I like games you can play for 20 hours or more with good sound and graphics.

      TSF

      “I’m a Canadian that’s proud to be North American!”

  2. Icarus says:

    Sad to say, I’m not surprised at all at how this turned out.

    • Wozzle says:

      Same for me, except I’m not sad to say. I’m tired of gritty, “AMERICA FITING WORLD” shooters. It pains me to say it, but Halo 3 is probably the most unique shooter to come out in the last few years. And I hate Halo.

    • Tatourmi says:

      My two cents:
      There is no shame in saying that: Halo is quite unique nowadays. It is one of the few franchises to “defend” some old fps values dear to most of players hearts.
      -Flashy powerups (Proud of being a game)
      -Big bad unevened guns (Really important)
      -Split screen multiplayer (I know this is a PC website but please tell me that you too are shocked at the incredibly small list of console games supporting 4 players. Even Borderlands, a game made for 4 player cooperation, does not support it.)
      -Multiple gamemodes and gamemode editors (The halo series have the best gamemode editors I know of in the AAA world. Far more complex and “free” than, for exemple, the Unreal 2K4 gamemode editor)
      -Level editors (Even though I never really tried it I heard it was kind of good, especially Halo Reach’s one)
      -Space war! (Very important)
      -Easter Eggs (Because single player can’t be nice without them.
      -Cheat codes, sorta. (Same reason as the one above)
      The Halo series might be the only “old school” Fps series still alive (And by that I mean not just resurected every so often), the gameplay might be kind of unsetling and the universe sort of, well, pinky, but from my point of view and taking in account the context, appart from being a “console only” FPS, it doesn’t have much cons.

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      @Wozzle
      Bloody Good Time. Sniper: Ghost Warrior. Metro 2033. Singularity. All the Shadow of Chernobyl games. Borderlands. Left 4 Dead. All innovative games, and most of them excellent.

      If you define FPS as “Modern Warfare clone”, then yes, you’ll have some issues finding originality. However, if you define it as “A game where the player assumes the role of a person (from the first-person perspective) while they use a firearm”, then the list diversifies itself.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Don’t forget, Deus Ex is technically an FPS.

    • yurusei says:

      I would daresay Mass Effect 2 had some FPS blood in it too.

    • Ziv says:

      @dragonhunter21:
      Actually out of that list pnly Metro 2033 and Lef 4 Dead are really good old school shooters (Don’t know about singularity, it’s the only one I haven’t played).
      Bloody Good Time wasn’t that great and,Sniper was supposedly an awful game, Stalker isn’t really an old school FPS-it’s one of the new age fusion games that mix a lot of genres (not that it’s bad, it’s just not HL2), oh and borderland s also was good-but had the most terrible story ever and got boring after a while.

      out of that list only Metro is a game I consider to be an excellent SHOOTER-the rest may have shooting elements but they aren’t pure shooter.

      btw. my opinion of an ideal shooter is HL2\1, driven by a great storyline but still putting the emphasis on gameplay.

  3. QualityJeverage says:

    I don’t know that I feel as strongly about it as you do, but I’d be hard-pressed to find anything in this article I disagree with.

    I bought the game on the promise of the setting, which it seems is a weakness of mine. Turns out the best part of the campaign is the opening cinematic, which sets up a (relatively) believable chain of events that lead to a Korean-occupied United States. It’s all downhill from there.

    I still didn’t hate it, it’s not a BAD game, but it’s an immense disappointment. The multiplayer is reasonably entertaining, but not enough to save the game from the single-player. Rent it or buy it when it’s five bucks on a Steam sale.

    • Adam says:

      The game is lacking in a big way. I’m glad I beat in 3 hours, any longer and I’d have been pulling my own teeth.

  4. bitkari says:

    Will buy just to see the sun’s rays twinkling through canapés.

  5. Callum says:

    I have to admit, I’m partial to a bit of Call of Duty here and there. I know that I’m in for a cinematic rollercoaster ride, one which only has the slightest of freedom allowed, and I’m content with that as it’s what I’ve come to expect from the series. It’s understandable that other developers would try to emulate this as the Call of Duty series has made a lot of money, but it is a bit depressing to think this could be a direction more and more games go in.

    Going back to Deus Ex right after finishing the Black Ops campaign was like a breath of fresh air, though I had finished Deus Ex previously it was still a shock to my senses which had become so used to being lead everywhere only moments ago in the (admittedly well made) Black Ops campaign.

    • MattM says:

      These roller-coaster/tour games can be pretty fun, but thank goodness for the new age of deep discounts on PC games. At $5-10 you can play through it once, extract your fun and not worry about the value too much. I have read some editorials (by people who get games for free and review them on a deadline) on how we shouldn’t be so worried about short games, but I don’t really agree. When games clock in at < 8h they often feel a bit shallow. Once you make time for all the cinematics and dialogue there really isn't much time left to introduce mechanics, allow the player to practice them, then challenge their mastery. Instead you get gameplay that is identical to that of other games.

    • Premium User Badge Thirith says:

      @Callum: Same here. I don’t want all shooters to be Call of Duty, but neither do I want every shooter to be Stalker. Every now and then a rollercoaster ride is exactly what I want.

      That doesn’t excuse the tasteless attempts at poignancy and relevance in Homefront or the embarrassingly short campaign (although I hear MP is pretty good), but for me saying that these games are heavily scripted, shallow and provide a paper-thin illusion of freedom is a bit like saying that crisps are just thin, deep-fried slices of potatoes. Very true, but every now and then a pack of Walker’s Salt & Vinegar is exactly what I want. Dismissing them because they’re not French cuisine is missing the point somewhat.

    • Tatourmi says:

      You know, french people have a deep rooted chips tradition and some claim that Chips come from France. (But then again, it is the same story for Pizza. The claims eminate from Marseille, to be more specific. And, well, for their defense, the city does have some of the best Pizzas in the world and Marseille being a city based on its links with the rest of the Mediteranean sea…)

  6. Sweedums says:

    can’t say I’m surprised… oh well.

    is there going to be a seperate Wot I Think for the multiplayer section then?

  7. Hunam says:

    I agree massively with the spectator point made in your WIT. Killzone 3 is the exact same, to the point where if you can’t be bothered, the AI will just kill the baddies all by itself and you just wonder around looking at things. It also loves doing the ‘SHOW AWESOME THINGS IN CUTSCNES THAT THE PLAYER COULD PROBABLY DO BUT YOU WONT LET HIM HAHAHAH’ tricks that is becoming popular in games.

    To be honest though, your WIT just sounds like the first hour of HL2:EP2 which I hated so much, also including a magical door that only opens after a long and boring conversation has finished. The bit where Aylx gets skewered was supposed to be emotional in that, but I just walked off the first second I could, colour me angry when I found out those aliens had saved her. Cheeky basts.

    • poop says:

      I was just thinking about this recently when I realised that half life 2 by todays standards gives the player tons of gameplay freedom and is relatively lightly scripted

      Half life fucking two

      what a world we live in

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      And that is why I loved Bulletstorm-

      It let me pull the stupid lever that got everyone killed.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Was emotional for me. I hate Alyx.

    • Ziv says:

      EP2 wasn’t the highlight of the series, it was inferior to EP1, HL2 and the original but looking away from that partially flawed part, HL series is really good because of Valve’s methodology of “we’ll beta test the shit out of this and release it whenever we want” that’s evident from the commentary in the games. They also understand the value of good fan service.

  8. malkav11 says:

    Honestly, I’d never found this any sort of problem for me in Call of Duty, and I find those games’ single player quite thrilling. So I dunno, I might very well turn out to like Medal of Honor and Homefront a lot more than you did. But it’ll be a long damn time before I find out, because I’m not paying $50 for a four hour campaign.

  9. Juiceman says:

    Finished it last night myself. Can’t say I was exactly surprised with how it turned out, other than it’s ridiculously short single player campaign. There isn’t a lot to be surprised about when you try to be Call of Duty: Homefront.

  10. DiamondDog says:

    All I can take away from that review is the image of John holding a vol-au-vent upto the sunlight.

  11. Om says:

    Games like to be ‘cinematic’. I don’t know whether its motivated by envious glances at the film industry or the importance of putting together a flashly TV ad, but AAA games across the board are increasing making efforts to be ‘cinematic’. The FPS has been particularly prone to this (witness the massive influence of Saving Private Ryan on the original MoH and CoD) but the likes of Bioware have also gone down the same road

    • Garret says:

      I think there’s nothing wrong with a cinematic game, but these games are doing it poorly. The player doesn’t need to become a completely irrelevant character.

      Take a look at Hitman: Blood Money, for example. That game is beautifully cinematic with every action the player takes, every execution (that is, if you didn’t choose to go ape-shit with an assault rifle, and even somewhat then) was dramatic, but the player OWNS their experience. You placed the bomb in the wedding presents, poisoned the donuts, or pulled the trigger of the sniper rifle. Games like Homefront or MoH would put you in a cinematic situation and not even let you pull the trigger, much less make any decision as to how you wanted the trigger pulled.

    • timmyvos says:

      I totally agree with you, Hitman: Blood Money was so dramatic and, for that time, beautiful. I’m really hoping Hitman 5 will be as good or better than Blood Money.

  12. Premium User Badge HermitUK says:

    I find it funny that in early previews this game was boasting of its Hollywood physics system, where explosions would usually throw the debris right over the player to maximise the awesome factor of the explosions. Guess it’s a hell of a lot easier to do that when the player can’t go anywhere.

    I was really hoping for a design ethos closer to Crysis with this – broadly linear levels but with plenty of freedom to do your own thing. I don’t think anyone needs to play another Call of Duty clone.

    That said, I’ve heard more positive stuff about the multiplayer, but I also understand the PC version has teething troubles in that department.

  13. SamC says:

    Ooo, ooo, let me do the cherry picked box quotes!

    “From the extraordinary detail of the trees to the uncanny sensation of seeing war occur in such vividly realised neighbourhoods, it’s a technically remarkable piece of work.” – Rock Paper Shotgun

    “a massive success.” – Rock Paper Shotgun

    • Astalano says:

      -phenomenally beautiful looking

      -OH YES!

      -The final third’s epic set pieces have all the sensitivity of a film (and are just as memorable)

    • Hunam says:

      “This seems to be something an increasing number of gamers want.” – Rock Paper Shotgun.

    • jwfiore says:

      “Homefront is … a game.” – John Walker, rockpapershotgun.com

    • Premium User Badge KindredPhantom says:

      “Homefront has the best sun’s rays twinkling through canapés that i have ever seen in a videogame”

    • MultiVaC says:

      I remember seeing a movie advertisement once where one of the excerpts from a critic quote was literally this:

      “…Epic…”

      I was laughing out loud at that. The context could have been anything. “A disappointment of epic proportions”, “An epic waste of money”, “Epic fail”, “The entire movie consists of a still image of Goatse onscreen for two hours, in epic 3D detail”, etc.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      “I had to pee”

    • duffers says:

      @multivac

      Then you have a look who the comment is from and see such esteemed, cineaste sources such as The Daily Sport or Nuts Magazine.

  14. Astalano says:

    When are we gonna get a proper manshoot like FEAR and Crysis? You know, with great AI and actual use of tactics. Also, if they’re going to go this route of a rollercoaster ride, shouldn’t they make it immersive with weaker weapons and less killing, more French Partisan-esque mission like blowing up train tracks and such, especially considering that you’re supposed to be a rebel and not an armed-to-the-teeth military man? They could even give you an Alyx Vance type companion, maybe even throw in a romance and dialogue options for good measure. Maybe a stake-out of a base while you direct other rebel troops to sneak in. Ideas, ideas! Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be inspired by Half-Life?

    Oh, but then again, what do I know?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Episode 3?

      FEAR 2 wasn’t quite as bad as people make out, I think rose tinted memories of the first made people think it was worse than it was. Unfortunately it wasn’t scary at all just like the original, but was a satisfying few hours of shooting stupid people in the face.

    • Astalano says:

      I have played exactly 60 minutes of FEAR 2 and have NO desire to progress any further. It is god awful, the combat and any sense of horror has been ripped out and the beating heart of the original’s combat is eaten before the player’s eyes. Even the FEAR expansion packs were better.

    • Premium User Badge HermitUK says:

      FEAR 2 didn’t help itself by reducing the scares to QTE-or-Die sections with Alma, and the plot just became increasingly convoluted as time went on. I never found the AI to be the same challenge in 2 as it was in FEAR. In FEAR they were pretty damn accurate and smart enough to outflank you when you weren’t careful. FEAR2 they usually seemed to take cover and then pop their heads out occasionally, like every other bit of FPS cannon fodder.

      That said, the school section was brilliant, and easily on a par with the first game’s scares.

    • Premium User Badge HermitUK says:

      Yeah, the AI wasn’t a patch on the first game. And that’s not just rose tinted glasses speaking, I still play the original now and again.

      That said, the School level in FEAR 2 was easily on a par with the scares from the first game. It’s just a shame that gem of a level is hidden inside an average game.

    • malkav11 says:

      Sure, the AI and thus the combat aren’t quite as good in FEAR 2, which is a shame, but I personally found that easy to overlook when compared to the massively improved level design and atmosphere. FEAR 1 has basically two palettes: industrial or office building. FEAR 2 has a bit of that sort of thing, but also includes environments like a luxury apartment, subway, hospital, school and the flaming ruin of the post-disaster city, including a brief but particularly impressive chapter descending into the crater formed by the heart of the explosion. Nothing wildly original, I’ll grant you, but well rendered and atmospheric. I’m looking forward to the third game.

    • Hunam says:

      I agree the AI in FEAR 2 wasn’t as good as the first, meaning there was less cool set ups you could do, like ninja kicking someone through a window then shooting everyone in the face as your feet hit the ground on the other side.

      But saying that, FEAR 2 ran amazingly well and looked pretty top. It was still a fairly meaty shooter and I really enjoyed it. Seems to be the victim of far too much snobbery.

    • Premium User Badge KindredPhantom says:

      FEAR2 was a pleasurable corridor FPS with a bit of silly horror. It was a lot better than the expansion packs for FEAR, I played them all and they weren’t as good as both FEAR and FEAR2.

    • Fameros says:

      I enjoyed FEAR 2 a lot. The underground tram sequence is memorable. Try mapping bullet time to the right mouse button and play it in the difficult level for a treat.

    • Hunam says:

      I had a run through on hard last year for FEAR2 and it was great fun. Brutal but fair.

    • Nick says:

      my problem with Fear 2 was that I found it very visually cluttered, hard to make out the standard trooper enemies.. I don’t know why, as it wasn’t that way in Fear. I had a similar problem looking at the Crysis 2 trailer with gameplay footage.

    • Hunam says:

      I find that an really weird problem you had, because the baddies were dolled up in all sorts of neon crap to make them stand out..

  15. arienette says:

    I admit to not having played the game, but I’ve seen the timeline of events that’s supposed to lead up to this and it isn’t believable in the slightest. It’s way way out there with regards to international politics.

  16. Minim says:

    The only positive point I’ve seen anyone discuss about this game is the setting. But didn’t Call of Duty already cover a Russian style invasion of the USA? Complete with a suburban level? Besides this game was already made years ago, it was called Freedom Fighters. Generic 3rd person shooter that still lasted far longer than this game and was fairly entertaining in parts.

    It just amazes me how companies think they can straight up copy paste other game formulas and expect to make a successful franchise off it. I understand smaller developers looking for the quick cash-in, but Homefront had a lot of resources put into it without even one unique game feature/gimmick to set it apart from other shooters.

    • sinister agent says:

      Are you not paying attention? This is about Korean people invading the US. Completely different.

    • bakka bakka bakka says:

      i registered so i could defend freedom fighter’s honor. there is simply no other third person shooter like it (or maybe i’m just not aware of it, i’d love to be wrong). contrary to homefront, you are a leader. the squad management was simple but pretty effective for what was a pretty simple shooter. it was also not so mind numbingly linear

      enough talk, draw you sword, sir!

    • Koozer says:

      Four person multiplayer, squads, and Russians. Many an hour was spent in this game.

    • DSDan says:

      there is simply no other third person shooter like it (or maybe i’m just not aware of it, i’d love to be wrong

      Kane & Lynch: Dead Men reused much of the interface of Freedom Fighters, but it didn’t really understand what made Freedom Fighters so fun.

  17. Stardog says:

    I like how you all complain about it being like Call of Duty when that’s the only fucking reason any of you bought it.

    This looked shit from the start, and you deserve to lose all your money on this crap.

    • Greg Wild says:

      Harsh, but too true. Homefront was always going to be shit.

      And the plot. It’s absurd. And utterly implausible.

    • Hunam says:

      If you have an issue with the Homefront plot then you probably have an issue with every video game plot ever. Ever.

    • micro_explosion says:

      Like Super Mario. ‘Hero’ lets one of his people be kidnapped just so he can invade their land, wiping out hundreds of their people as he ‘saves’ the captive innocent.

    • pagad says:

      Hunam, that’s not the point. Video game plots can be ridiculous and people will happily swallow them if they’re not so absurdly po-faced and “serious”, as Homefront and Modern Warfare 2 are.

    • Matt says:

      Also, John Milius really needs to seek help regarding his “foreign powers invading the US” phobia.

    • drewski says:

      Funnily enough, the only interesting thing to me about the entire game is the plot. Unlike the MW plots, which are so badly told as to be utterly incomprehensible, at least this one’s explained and a little bit original.

      Fanciful, sure, but what else is a writer going to come up with when he gets told “make North Korea invade the US.”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Hunam, Doom never claimed to be serious.

      I mean, you get a power up that lets you punch dudes with the force of a rocket explosion.

      So while games like Half-Life want you to take them seriously, they stay serious. Bulletstorm did not, so you can’t levy that complaint against it.

      This however, wanted to be taken seriously, otherwise it wouldn’t have had the mass graves, the senseless murder of unarmed civilians, the psychotic murderous mormons (they were so mormons. It was Utah.) etc etc if it didn’t want you to take it seriously. But John is right.

      It takes away from the game when you have a character shooting every dude she sees then two seconds later being like “OH BOO HOO I SHOT A DUDE” when the men are surly and angry. You can’t have only the female character get weepy when no one else is, or it’s just plain sexist. One of the characters was more emotional about the loss of his robot ATV with a missile launcher (the Goliath) than of another character and the people at the safe house.

      Actually, I REALLY hated that female character. I only watched a friend play this from start up to a point where the Chine- Koreans are shooting it out with the Survivalists (mormons) and every line out of the woman was whiny or with disgust, yet she was first to pull the trigger. What the hell. So poorly written.

  18. wakeupandsmelltheashes says:

    I’ve read a couple of reviews that have praised that particular opening scene and thought, really? ‘Modern warfare’ shooters fetishise war to the point of comedy so I can’t see it working when they try and remind us all that war is hell before handing out the rifles and saying have fun! (or not, in this case).

    I won’t be playing Homefront any time soon, great article though.

  19. jti says:

    The future of gaming.

  20. Dominic White says:

    World In Conflict and Freedom Fighters both did the ‘America under siege’ setting before Homefront. And better, as WiC actually managed to portray both sides as human (via the rather great expansion/re-release), and Freedom Fighters managed to work some sharp satire in there, with the invading Russians almost immediately copying the Fox News format for their propaganda.

    The only vaguely interesting thing about Homefront was the setting, and two games have done it far better already. So… please explan how this is getting mid 80s/low 90s from a lot of magazines/sites. Please?

    • wakeupandsmelltheashes says:

      Better dead than red. Freedom Fighters was ace.

    • Coins says:

      My guess is on money. Look at me being all cynical.

    • Cryo says:

      invading Russians almost immediately copying the Fox News format for their propaganda
      Pretty sure it’s the other way around.

    • Dominic White says:

      “Pretty sure it’s the other way around.”

      Oooh, zing! And/or good point!

    • Dozer says:

      Fox News copying the Russian format for its propaganda?

      But they’re very different. Russians knew they were being fed propaganda and didn’t believe it. Fox viewers don’t realise they’re being fed propaganda.

    • Premium User Badge KindredPhantom says:

      Russians “were” being fed propaganda, you will find they still are.

    • Muzman says:

      “So… please explan how this is getting mid 80s/low 90s from a lot of magazines/sites. Please?”

      A ready supply of god-ray emitting hors d’ourves can work wonders.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Sounds more like the audiences are different. ;)

    • drewski says:

      @ Dom – the positive reviews I’ve read about it have focused on the multiplayer. And the PC version at least doesn’t have a review above 84 posted on Metacritic. The PS3 version has an 86, and whilst the Xbox version has a few 90s, it also has the lowest average out of all three versions (at 71) indicating it has an awful lot of negative reviews too.

      I would suggest if your impression is that this has been critically well received, especially the single player, you need to broaden your review sources.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Re: Fox/Pravda: My favorite quote about Pravda, by a Russian to a journalist; ‘We don’t read Pravda to find out what the truth is; we read it to find out what the lies are.’

      This story background had to originally be the Chinese doing this. I think it has been reported that all the military equipment in the game is standard China military, not N. Korean. Pretty funny that Red Dawn 2 and Homefront get the same running iron used on the brand, and Milius is credited with the changes in Homefront. Guess they didn’t realize early on that China is not the new foe, they are the new bosses….

  21. Nihilille says:

    “feverishly wanking itself into oblivion”

    like me whenever i’m home alone :(

    • Astalano says:

      Uhhhh

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      Why wait until you’re alone?

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      That can get sore real quick

    • Devenger says:

      Come on, guys, no Elder Scrolls game deserves THAT treatment.

    • Nihilille says:

      I prefer that awkward look on her face when she catches the faint smell of semen but won’t want to mention it, convincing herself that it’s probably nothing.

    • Kaira- says:

      I… what. What.

    • Nehacoo says:

      @Devenger
      Take one look at the front page of tesnexus and you’ll find that it’s already too late

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      When you stare into the Abyss, it splatters goo all over your face.

      Serves you right for standing there.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      I put on my ushanka and gymnastiorka and kiss you softly on your…

  22. hellojed says:

    Pretty sure the free Homefront taco truck at the GDC was better than this game.

    Next time THQ should just spend the money on free taco trucks, they’d probably be better received than this.

    • Dozer says:

      I would pay $50 for a free taco truck.

    • Benjamin L. says:

      But you’ve got to pay an additional $9.99 per taco to access the tacos that are already in the truck.

  23. Speedbuggy says:

    http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

    Homefront: Peak Today 7,187

    Steam stats don’t lie, this game flopped hard on the PC

    • Hunam says:

      More to the point, why are 6,000+ people a day still playing CS: Condition Zero?

    • vodkarn says:

      Even though I no longer play Counter-Strike, it always makes me smile to see more people playing CS 1.6 than CS:S, which is played more than CODBLOPS.

    • qrter says:

      Because it’ll run on older machines and is singleplayer..?

      Thinking out loud, here.

  24. Temple to Tei says:

    I… is that a tick next to ‘Hide in the Mass Grave’? Is that an achievement?
    ‘Bing!’ particpated in genocide -trophy!

    • malkav11 says:

      More likely it’s an objective that’s been marked complete.

    • sinister agent says:

      It clearly belongs on a list along with a similarly ticked “milk, eggs, orange juice (no bits!), wash car”.

    • Kaira- says:

      @sinister agent

      Now you reminded me of Postal 2. Gotta buy some milk, I guess.

    • patricij says:

      I’ll go cash me a check…I’ll try to avoid spraying the whole place with gasoline and setting it afire. We’ll see about that one.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      I still expected an achievement for it:

      Pulling an Anastasia
      Join the Corps(e)
      One of these things is not like the others

  25. Lusit says:

    John, I have an immense amount of respect for you. This is the real review that Homefront should have been given. I hope that THQ doesn’t decide to shun RPS after this review and your Homefront preview.

    • Dozer says:

      They already did though. The previous Homefront article (the ’0 sales in UK’ one) mentions that RPS weren’t given review code after the very negative preview given before that.

      edit: the ’0 sales’ one has been edited since it was published! It now says that RPS’s review code was lost in the post. Dear hivemind: please let us know where you’ve corrected your published articles.

  26. dejoh says:

    I’d luv to demo this game. Best way to know if ya like it.

    • Urthman says:

      Maybe John accidentally played the demo for the game?

      I remember when game demos could easily entertain you for more than four hours. I probably spent 40 hours with the original Unreal Tournament demo.

    • CrazyBaldhead says:

      @Urthman: That’s nothing. I must’ve spent approximately 50 hours demoing Silent Hill 4. I kid you not.

    • CMaster says:

      The original UT demo was absolutely fantastic. Helped of course, by the fact that UT itself was aesome, but still. It gave you a full taste of the game, yet still wanting more.

  27. Alphabet says:

    The food is terrible – and the portions are so small!

    • John Walker says:

      You can’t really invoke the Allen when I say *twice* in the review that it’s a good job it’s only as long as it is.

  28. Cugel says:

    “But what made Homefront look so unique when it was first announced, and indeed what makes it look absolutely incredible today, is the setting: suburbia. These aren’t warn-torn fields, or post-apocalyptic cities. These are American streets and parking lots, people’s homes and playgrounds.”

    I think it’s pretty important to remember that the houses and courtyards in Random Middle East Shooter 2: Honour of Duty is in fact also people’s homes and playgrounds.

    • pipman3000 says:

      yeah their muslim homes and muslim playgrounds.

      see it makes a better impact or something because like a third of the homefront’s players can find their country on a map but their don’t even know which continent those cities from RMES 2:HoD are from.

    • John Walker says:

      That’s a good point, you’re right. I was really thinking more of the endless fields and futuristic destroyed cities. The CODdy ME streets didn’t spring to mind. I’ve edited accordingly.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      Just Cause 2 is exactly looks like my playground (I live in Indonesia by the way, and JC2 setting was a mix of some south east asian country). Playing it makes me remember my childhood (the forest, the ricefield, and even the people clothes and vehicle)

    • Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

      “Just Cause 2 is exactly looks like my playground (I live in Indonesia by the way, and JC2 setting was a mix of some south east asian country).”

      I wasn’t sure if the nameplaces were in Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Malaysia, but near enough that my Malay-speaking wife can translate them.

      P.

    • Cugel says:

      That’s a good point, you’re right. I was really thinking more of the endless fields and futuristic destroyed cities. The CODdy ME streets didn’t spring to mind. I’ve edited accordingly.

      Another reason why I love RPS! Anyway, it was an otherwise well written and enjoyable (as they almost always tend to be) Wot I Think. Thank you

  29. patricij says:

    Haha…reminds me I have to get on with the bloody vampire/existentialist crap music album I have to review…Life’s cruel

  30. mandrill says:

    This “Wot I think” could very easily be condensed into “Not much, and none of it good.” and still manage to convey the general gist of the piece.

    • John Walker says:

      Well, no it couldn’t you silly billy, because as I explain the final third contained some better moments, and the graphics were absolutely incredible. Also, it’s normally good form in a review to say *why* you didn’t like something. It’s kind of uninformative otherwise.

      Phew, it’s probably a good job I wrote the rest of the words after all!

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      Not everything has to be condensed so it will fit on twitter FFS

      (edit, and then I noticed that my comment was easily small enough to fit on twitter. Oh the irony! Reckon I’ve sorted that now :)

    • mandrill says:

      I wasn’t saying it should have been, I was just saying it could have been. It wouldn’t have been half as entertaining to read, and as John said, nowhere near as informative as to the reasoning behind such a verdict, but ultimately “Its crap, don’t fork out cash for this turkey” would have achieved the same result, that being: me not forking out cash for this turkey.

    • MD says:

      I was never going to buy this anyway, but I’ll probably read this WIT at some point. So as long as John was entertaining about it, the extra words were worth it from my perspective! Also, for those who are using a review as a buyer’s guide, the words are pretty crucial for giving you an idea of whether your experience is likely to match the reviewer’s.

    • Matt says:

      There’s a reason I read Mr. Walker’s writing and not Robert Christgau’s.

  31. BeamSplashX says:

    Why did lightgun shooters fall out of vogue again? It seems to be what many FPSes are heading towards, so why not just cut out the walking? It’s pretty much playing the middleman as it is, which is a shame considering FPS movement should impart a modicum of entertainment (or at least have quirks that convey something interesting).

    Then again, the Resident Evil Gun Survivor games offer more freedom than Homefront does. What the hell do people want?

    • malkav11 says:

      There’s at least eight or nine of them on Wii, if not more, so I’m not sure they’ve so much fallen out of vogue as had a lull.

  32. dr.castle says:

    “This seems to be something an increasing number of gamers want. ”

    Although Homefront has a 17+ ESRB rating in the US, it–and games of its ilk like Medal of Honor, CODBLOPS, etc.–seem to me like they’re designed for a 17 and below audience. The juvenile dialogue and violence, the extreme hand-holding and linearity, the lack of pressure on the player (reflected here by always making the player go last), the relative ease even on the hardest difficulty (for MoH at least)…aside from the violence, these are the types of design features that ten years ago would only be incorporated into games targeted specifically for this younger age bracket. It just doesn’t seem like any adult (or at least any “gamer” adult) would want to play a game so devoid of challenge and depth.

    It almost seems like Activision, THQ and the rest are pulling one over on the public by acting like these are games designed for an adult audience. Does anyone know of any reliable polls of gamer age for any of these games? I tried googling but didn’t come up with much.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes. In polls I’ve seen the average age of gamers for these sorts of games is generally around mid to late 20s.

    • dr.castle says:

      Sigh. So my peers, then. New theory: they’re all stoned, and can’t handle more complicated/demanding games. I know from experience that’s the only state in which I can enjoy Call of Duty.

    • Archonsod says:

      In my experience they tend to be popular with the guys who don’t particularly game much but bought an Xbox for Halo and the odd footy sim. Kinda like the casual market for the consoles.

    • malkav11 says:

      Or we could not make massive sweeping generalizations. I wouldn’t want every shooter to be a Call of Duty clone, and I love e.g., Stalker and Deus Ex. But a disposable high intensity thrill ride is fun now and then and if they were charging a reasonable price – perhaps $10-15 – I would be more than happy to buy into them. They never do, alas.

    • dr.castle says:

      Yeah, the problem is they’re not so high intensity anymore. COD4 was good shooty fun, but I played some of the new Medal of Honor and trust me, “intense” is the last word anyone would use to describe it. You just follow around your squadmates and pick off anything they don’t kill for you. You have to stand out of cover for several seconds and get shot repeatedly to die. Even on the hardest difficulty it’s laughably easy. It’s a complete joke. Sounds like Homefront is similar, which is disappointing, as I’m inclined to agree with you–if Homefront had the same kind of intensity and urgency as COD4, I’d probably pick it up once the price dropped.

      (And I’d imagine Archo is right, and these games are targeted at casual gamers. If it is like MoH, and it sounds like it is, there simply isn’t much chance that an experienced gamer will enjoy it. But hey, we have Crysis 2 and Deus Ex 3 coming up, so it’s all good, right?)

    • malkav11 says:

      I haven’t played Medal of Honor, or Homefront. But when I died in Call of Duty 4, it was because a grenade had rolled in front of me and exploded or a dog jumped me and I didn’t have the microsecond reflexes required to fend it off and thus was instantly killed. It was mostly just annoying, not “intense”. The intenseness came from the set pieces occurring around me. So I’m not sure I’d agree with you.

      Also, it’s worth noting that someone can be a “casual” FPS player, like myself (I’ve played some relatively hardcore shooters but generally on the lowest possible difficulty and I’ve never stuck around to build much in the way of skills) and not necessarily a casual gamer, overall. I just happen to prefer other genres that emphasize brains over reflexes. (Or they did, at least, before the industry decided that things like turns and tactics were archaic irrelevances).

    • drewski says:

      I’ve got friends who are nuts about this sort of game, but it tends to be for the multiplayer, not the singleplayer, which is played once at most (usually to get cheevos) and discarded.

    • bill says:

      I’d imagine it’s mostly college guys, and post-college guys.

      It’s definitely casual. These kind of CoD shooters are about as casual as the xbox gets.
      (one reason why the term casual isn’t really meaningful. on the pc it seems to mean World of Goo, on the 360 it’s CoD).

    • drewski says:

      I think you’re underestimating the penetration of XBLA on the consoletoy market.

  33. InsidiousBoot says:

    The developers should have looked at how Valve did it with the resistance fighters in Half Life 2.
    Its just sad that there aren’t made any decent games anymore.. hell I knew that is was going to flop.. Its just copying Cod and pasting that up to their older game concept Frontlines: Fuel of War which didn’t have a great singleplayer either, but it was decent.

    To be fair Frontlines Fuel of War wasn’t that bad in MP but it wasn’t the greatest either, so I’m eager to read the Multiplayer review on RPS soon.

    • Hunam says:

      I owned Frontlines for about a day. I never touched the SP but booted up the MP, killed 6 people in one clip and laughed at how little health player had in the game before it dawned on me that the balancing was clearly done with the consoles in mind, making everyone on the PC the mayor of murder city. After about 2 hours of games where hundreds of kills were racked up in mere moments I just had to pass the game on to someone else.

    • patricij says:

      IO Interactive’s Freedom Fighters was a good take on the “liberate the USA” thing…. too bad it’s not on any DD services…

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Murder City is located in Utah, in case you were wondering.

      Great location, friendly neighbors, booming economy, effecient police and low crime. Yes, you really will enjoy having moved to Murder City.

      For however short that stay will be.

  34. Emperor_Jimmu says:

    I would like to see an actual anti-war FPS. Maybe your character could vomit from the first person perspective every time you got a gooey headshot and add points to a post traumatic stress gauge.

    • Jimbo says:

      Every time you get shot it reformats your hard drive.

    • pipman3000 says:

      i want to see a modern warfare 4: civilians.

      you play as civilian casualty #56,217 (you’re just a statistic so you don’t get a name) in your final moments before you’re killed by a stray bomb. that is the only ending, you can do other things but none if it will stop the stray bomb from landing on your home and blowing you to pieces.

    • lokimotive says:

      Right, except that doesn’t happen in any spectacular fashion. You’re just sitting in your Barcalounger, press X to drink scotch, quit to desktop, autouninstall game. “What just happened?”

  35. jwfiore says:

    “It relishes in gory headshots and atrocities, feverishly wanking itself into oblivion every time it thinks it’s Saying Something.”

    Mr. Walker, your combination of eloquence, cynicism, and wit have made me really come to enjoy your writing, and it’s stuff like this that makes me read RPS over every other PC gaming site.

    Great review. I have the same problem with these “cinematic shooters,” to the point where I have been playing CoDBLOPS since it came out and to this day have not tried the single player campaign.

    • Jimbo says:

      “Feverishly wanking itself into oblivion every time it thinks it’s Saying Something.”

      This would make a pretty good strapline for RPS ¬_¬

  36. Teddy Leach says:

    Just make Freedon Fighters 2. Just bloody make it.

  37. Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    “Doors are inert, dead objects when you try to interact with them. They have to be opened by someone else for you.”

    Who says chivalry is dead?

  38. trjp says:

    From Twitter – I see Glinner (Graham Linehan aka Mr Father Ted/IT Crowd himself) is blaming you for unsettling the stock market! :)

    “I believe THQ’s share price went down 25% because of Homefront reviews like this http://is.gd/wlLepD.”

  39. Adam Blue says:

    I might have missed this in the review, but what difficulty setting was this played on?

    • CrazyBaldhead says:

      What does it matter?

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Agreed, sometimes increasing the difficulty just doubles the frustration, happened to me in pretty much all CoD’s ever made.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      How can you ask such a silly question? It was obviously set to:

      “STAY BACK, WE’LL SHOW YOU HOW IT’S DONE!” Difficulty.

    • Adam Blue says:

      My point is that Guerrilla mode feels exactly like that; constant running and hiding. Notice, instead of it being difficulty, it describes style of play. Yes, it is not as accessible, but makes the game a lot more fun. Nothing like how CoD does it.
      Anyway, to answer the question “What does it matter?”, I will play your role and ask you, “Why answer a question with a question?”.
      Yo dawg, I herd you liked questions, so I answered your question with a question.

    • John Walker says:

      I reviewed it on “Normal”, as I do for any game.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      I see your point Adam but that seems a little silly to me. If it doesn’t actually make the game particularly hard, but makes it a lot more fun, why did they not just design the game to play like that in general? Rather than have an option that makes the gameplay better.

  40. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Thank you for a good review :) Keep it Real RPS!

  41. ZenArcade says:

    John I thought the nightmarish element in the opening 5 minutes of the game was the only thing the game had going for it really. I find it odd that you would criticize this, I always thought it’s a good thing for games to want to consciously make comments on things like this, to communicate a point or a message or an idea – I think it’s brilliant. Although, I think the story it self is utter hogwash and I actually disagree where you say it’s done convincingly. It glosses over a lot of things I would have thought were important, such as, just how on earth did North Korea reunite with the south? It’s just kind of mentioned and left there and that’s it, and we have to swallow it and believe it. I have a hard time believing the north and south just united and that was that.

    Not that any of this truly matters, the game is truly ghastly. It’s trying to be CoD and offers /even less/ freedom than that. Now that is completely damning for your game.

    Awful trash.

  42. Navagon says:

    And to think I was contemplating the possibility of wasting a fiver on this when it came down in price. If you were fed up with it after 3 hours then I think it goes without saying that it’s not worth the time investment never mind how little it costs.

  43. noobnob says:

    Looking forward to buy this game at 10% of its original price. Same value as renting two movies.

  44. colinmarc says:

    John, wasn’t it you who has the game idea/fantasy where you’re the assistant following around the hero on all the adventures?

    WELL?

    • colinmarc says:

      Nevermind, that’s the Quintin Smith person.

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      Even then, that would still be cool. You’d be necessary and wanted- you’d be assisting a big, manly-man get ready for big, manly-man things. If it was like Homefront, though, the knight would slap you aside and make sure you couldn’t do things for him unless you showed complete admiration to him.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Or you could be like that dog in Inspector Gadget, where the hero blunders about and you have to do all the hard work. :)

    • drewski says:

      Or Roger Ramjet. The hero is an absolute beast, but you have to hold him by the hand, line him up in the right direction, and give him a little push or he’ll be destroying walls and digging to China instead of fighting the enemy.

  45. Misnomer says:

    Can you find someone who actually enjoys this type of game to review it please? I have read plenty of reviews and this one definitely reeks of the type of player who loves being the pseudo-Messiah in some Bioware game and doing all the stuff free roaming RPGs involve. It just doesn’t seem like the person who wrote this could tell the difference between player agency in the original COD and COD4 and how that ties to the series’ changing presentation of war…he would be too busy staring at closed doors.

    I guess if you really had a story they would have explained how you are the only person good enough to break all the rules and do it alone and then you could go have your lousy way with the world. Instead they act like you might be a lower ranked soldier who has to follow orders and behave as part of a team or an army. How dare they! Even in COD you are the only soldier with working arms to hold up a rocket launcher or man that MG. ::eye roll::

    Somehow if a game does not revolve around the player, it suddenly doesn’t need them. Are games only supposed to be power fantasies? I am no fan of a Tale of Tales like way of removing agency, but can you really see no reason to remove god like decision making for the purposes of a war story?

    So yes, there are a growing number of players that don’t want their military shooter to be “GTA: Conventional Warfare Edition.” Nor do they want it to be ArmA 2, the mundane war simulator. So could you get someone who actually likes cinematic war themed shooters to play these and let Walker get back to games that pat him on the head like Bulletstorm?

    Note: I don’t think the wrong attitude in this review makes Homefront a good game, nor the Call of Duty, or BC2… they should just be reviewed by someone who gets the genre and can slam them for failing at being war games and not for failing at being power fantasies for people who love open world rpgs.

    • Dominic White says:

      The rhetorical contortionism you just pulled off there, in order to somehow label the reviewer as a namby-pamby RPG lover who at the same time was happy with Bulletstorm (the loudest, most aggressively dumb linear action game in years) is astounding. Teach me, o’ wise master of bullshit-fu!

    • Misnomer says:

      Not saying he doesn’t like lots of types of games. I just addressed the ones he seemed to prefer or mentioned in the review. I like Bioshock, but the anti-messiah thing doesn’t fit for a typical war game (though a Platoon like story arc might be able to do it). I like Company of Heroes, but the ability to command an entire battlefield does not play into an FPS like this…you can like more than one type of game and still be able to judge the effectiveness within a genre. He seems to think that serious games should be like fantasy RPGs and fun games should be like arcade shooters, that limits these genres far too much. He clearly doesn’t like this type of game and is reviewing it compared to the types he prefers.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      What I took away was that the game is extremely heavily scripted, to the point where you can’t even open a door yourself. And your NPC companions are scripted to the point of being utterly stupid and unrealistic.

      But hey, hyperbolize away. Don’t like rail shooters with prescripted AI? You must love Hitler only sandbox RPGs.

    • Iucounu says:

      I think we generally like games where you get to do stuff, not hang around at the back being Private Gooseberry whom the rest of the squad could happily do without. If you want to explore war from the point of view of someone unimportant, can I suggest cinema might be a better medium? Maybe some sort of faux documentary along the lines of Cloverfield. This doesn’t sound the least bit fun.

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      I think the point about the player being less unnecessary than irritating to the game was because it seemed that every time he tried to interact, all the NPCs pushed him aside. There’s a difference between the game not needing you, and the game screaming in your face that you’re not needed. Look at Call of Pripyat, for example. NPCs (both friendly and enemy) move unbidden, and while your actions sometimes do good, at the end of the day, all you’ve done is remove the immediate threat. The Zone is still there, and still as malevolent as ever. In that game, it’s evident that, with or without you, the Zone will continue as it always had. That’s nice and subtle. Now if every time you signed up for a quest another NPC interrupted and took it for you, that would be the game screaming at you that you’re not needed or wanted. It’s not as extreme in Homefront (I think, having not played yet) but if it makes the player feel like not playing anymore, it’s an issue.

      And on another point, why shouldn’t devs try to make games that appeal to everybody? Why can’t someone who traditionally likes RPGs (but likes the occasional FPS) review an FPS to the same standard as an FPS nut? If anything, it eliminates the bias of “I-like-FPS-and-this-is-an-FPS-so-I-like-this-game”. (And if you think that RPS writers are baised by genre, you obviously don’t read it much. The only bias we have is pro-PC.)

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      HA HA whoops. Sorry, double-post because my first comment didn’t appear.

    • John Walker says:

      Misnomer – I love first person shooters, so I think I’m pretty well positioned to review them. And yes, you’re right, gaming has far too much of a messiah complex about the people we play. I have previously lauded games for not making the central character the saviour of the universe.

      However, what you are misunderstanding is the difference between a game that puts you in a subservient role and then gives you lots of interesting things to do, and a game that plays itself three feet ahead of you, leaving you bored and uninvolved. I want to feel like I’m there for a purpose, to be actively involved in events, no matter how inferior my title may be.

      What mystifies me is the current hunger for the latter sort of game, where you’re so unimportant and uninvolved that you barely need to be there at all. If that’s what you want, then you go right ahead and buy Homefront, because you’re going to have your strangely unambitious wishes fulfilled.

    • Lacero says:

      And hey, if you find it’s too intense you could try watching someone else play it and see if that’s uninvolving enough for you.

      As for the drive towards completely uninvolving games.. It could be the escapism people crave now isn’t from a “boring” life but from any kind of responsibility. This may explain the age group that likes these games? Bit depressing to develop further but I think the idea will stand up a bit.

    • Misnomer says:

      Fair enough, but I really think it is one of those things that is hard to capture in games. You all here complain about not enough to do and veteran gamers complain that realistic games have the main player acting like some combination of squad leader/Colonel, but without the responsibility. People in this thread have cited HL2′s mobs of followers like it is something wonderful as well instead of a silly mob not quite as useful as Pikmin.

      It may just be that people don’t find games where you take lots of orders to be fun, but when I played MOH I never had a single scripting error. The review I read here was constantly whining about it. Yes, I followed the directions to the best of my ability and enjoyed the story and experience. I felt like I played a part in it, but did not dictate it. That’s a war game. I also enjoyed Mass Effect 2, though quite differently. Same with STALKER.

      If you didn’t wonder about this you would wonder why out of all the men with guns standing around, you were the only one that could use yours effectively. COD gets around this by only having one or two of these follow missions before you get isolated, or face a boss “vehicle,” or take on the role of some super super special soldie/sniper. If you want to get past super soldier, get past the same sequence of sniper-turret on rails-vehicle…sequencing then you have to mess with player perspective.

      Quite honestly though. I think you have played too many games. You know what door is going to open, you know all the cliches….so do I. I don’t suffer from the delusion that in a popular genre that developers will make a game meant for me (who took about 8 hours to meander through BC2 in a couple days) than for my father (who spent 12 hours and a better part of a month asking me for help on occassion).

      So if they did it this way they would get blasted for not making THE PLAYER the focus of all the game’s action, if they did it the other way they would be blamed for an unrealistic war shooter where the player shows up and kills everything and saves the world for the usual inept crew of side characters. It is like saying the gadgets in Bond movies are hokey and stupid and then saying that the Daniel Craig films are too serious…

      I don’t plan on buying Homefront for lots of reasons about its quality, but I felt this review was just another in a line of criticizing military shooters for what they never tried to be.

      And I don’t think it has anything to do with ambition. Some people enjoy experiences and don’t have to accomplish “goals” or become greater than themselves in any way for it to be fun. Some people like to see their own mediocrity as it would behave in another story, you might be amazed how boring a lot of people are in The Sims too.

    • Zogtee says:

      I have played games long enough to have seen more than my share of Messiah-style gaming, where everything revolves around the player and no one else in the game world is capable of doing anything for themselves. That sort of world design feels artificial and boring to me now. I guess I’m no longer that interested in goal-oriented gaming and more interested in the experience and the immersion. If you take a couple of steps back and look at it in a larger perspective, you’ll see that the Messiah-style of design was once the norm, and the more “realistic” design a response to this and an attempt to come up with something new. It may not have arrived quite yet, but obviously a lot of people enjoy it.

      I don’t know about Homefront, because I’m not buying it until it’s dead cheap on Steam, but I find the dismissive attitude towards this type of design and the gamers that appreciate it very disapponting.

    • bill says:

      Having someone who likes this game review it is no more useful than having someone who doesn’t like this game review it. If all games were reviewed by people who liked them then we’d be very confused.

      The important point is that he explained clearly WHY he didn’t like it. That allows the user to think “god yes, i’m like him and that would annoy me too!” or alternatively “it doesn’t sound like he likes the same kind of things as me, because that sounds ok to me” and base their decision on that.

      Reviewers will never have the exact same taste as us, that’s why we need to be able to understand that and factor it into our takeaway.

    • MultiVaC says:

      The thing is, if they want a semi-realistic “soldier following orders” game, the way Homefront does it still sounds totally wrong. In a squad of of 3 or 4 soldiers most would just be following orders, sure, but they would all be playing a vital role to the squad’s success. I don’t think a commander, two soldiers, and a mute loser who isn’t allowed to do anything other than tag along and be the only one who isn’t invulnerable is a standard military group.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I think this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RULv6HbgEjY illustrates the “why am I even here?” principle pretty well.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I have no problem playing a lower-ranking role in a game. That’s not a problem at all. I LOVE the Operation Flashpoint/Arma missions where you’re just part of the team, because you’re a vital part of the squad, and if you get an order like ‘engage that machinegunner at 5 o’ clock’ it’s because he’s a threat and if you don’t do that quickly, then horrible things will likely happen to the rest of the squad. Screw up enough, and you can end up as commander because everyone above you has died.

      Nothing wrong with being part of a team, so long as you actually do *feel* like you’re part of a team.

      In this latest wave of military shooters, you’re not a part of any team. You’re the only man in the squad who can actually shoot a gun straight, but at the cost of being the only one without bulletproof skin, and despite you being the guy who will singlehandedly kill every single enemy on the way, they don’t even trust you to open doors.

  46. ChowTOdust says:

    This review has exceeded my expectations. Much unlike Homefront.

  47. edit says:

    Good thing I didn’t preorder, seeing as I have little interest in COD-style multiplayer and despise single-player that is linear enough to be considered ‘on rails’.

  48. terry says:

    I believe this review is what they call in the trade “a frank discussion of views”.

  49. DOLBYdigital says:

    Well hopefully this doesn’t stop other devs from trying this idea (suburbs environment). I really wanted to like this game because I actually liked the story (I don’t expect extreme realism from games all the time) and also really liked the idea of running around my town being hunted by an army stronger than me and my teammates. Maybe next time….

  50. starclaws says:

    The multiplayer looks terrible as well… Oh look now I magically have a rocket launcher! DIE TANK! Ya this game is just trying to cash in on the Call of Duty / Battlefield bandwagon. Looks great. Executed poorly.

    • Jamison Dance says:

      Actually the multiplayer isn’t too bad. The Battle Points idea is kindof fun, as is the bounty on people’s heads when they get killstreaks going. However, you take like 2-3 shots to die, and the sniper rifles are hitscan death cannons. Some interesting ideas, but it just doesn’t feel great.