Wot I Think: Homefront – The Revolution

The hot potato of gaming, tossed from publisher to publisher, is somehow complete. Homefront: The Revolution [official site] is out today in the US, and then anachronistically, for no bloody sodding reason, delayed for Europe until Friday. (Is there still a shop that even sells PC games?) In development for five long years, can it possibly hold together? The answer for this open-world shooter is an interesting one.

Homefront: The Revolution has so little to do with the previous game that it’s damned confusing, even with publishers’ dizzying fear of new IPs, that they used the title. People either haven’t heard of the first game and don’t care, or they have heard of it and are therefore aware what a massive pile of shite it was. The association doesn’t seem to offer anything positive. Something that appears even more peculiar when you discover just how different a game it is. This is no four hour linear FPS, this is a massive open world recreation of North Korea-invaded Philidelphia that’s five parts The Division, three parts Far Cry, and with a dash of Metal Gear Sold V. Albeit such a concoction that really could have done with another year in the oven.

The opening is not exactly great. An interminable tutorial sees you glacially slowly introduced to the mechanics of another game, from jumping to hacking to weapons, spread across swathes of Philadelphia, before then going on to be nothing like any of it. I appreciated that it was so slow to put a gun in my hands – that often makes for a potentially more interesting start – but gosh there was a lot of sitting and watching other characters lean weirdly far into my first-person view to talk to me as if I were a baby in a pram. It was weird when they didn’t start with, “Coochee-coochee-coo!”

And then, suddenly, it blossoms. You’re limited to particular sectors of Philly at first, but each is an enormous sprawl of an America that’s been taken over by the North Koreans. This time out the conceit is at least somewhat better justified – in this alternative timeline, NK started funding the US’s endeavours, and became their primary source of weaponry and warring equipment. But rather cunningly everything had been fitted with a backdoor, meaning at the moment of N. Korea’s choosing they just took over the US military with the touch of a button. After millions of their troops, the KPA, arrived in the country, they easily took over, and now present themselves as offering hope and a chance at recovered prosperity to the American people.

Something that doesn’t convince a rebel organisation, of which you are the latest recruit. The story revolves around the capture of this resistant group’s leader, one Walker, and attempts to steal and adapt enough heavy firepower to launch a rescue at an upcoming faux trial. This involves your gradually switching the chunks of town from red to blue, by taking over key bases, blowing up propaganda devices and, er, retuning radios. There’s a lot of retuning radios.

Each of these open, freeform sections plays slightly differently, which is perhaps what makes Homefront feel like a step forward from the Ubisoft template it so clearly borrows. Some, red zones, are out and out warzones, where you charge around with your guns out, shooting countless “Norks” (a term the game uses so frequently it begins to feel incredibly racist) in their faces. (Do aim for their faces – you get a little “beeooorrpp” bass drop noise for that.) Yellow zones are more nuanced, with the option to move relatively freely about the streets, so long as you’re not looked at for too long by a guard, or scanned by a drone. Combat is a last, last resort here, while you scamper about finding hidden locations, rescuing civilians, taking out loud speakers, and yes, twiddling with radios. This all affects the area’s “Hearts & Minds” rating, which at 100% sees the public turn on their overlords and the area switch from tense peace to out and out rioting.

Betwixt these sections come plot-centric sections in which you’re required to rescue some person, or steal an enemy tank, or the like, at which point all the worst crap like “You are leaving the mission area” starts appearing, and it becomes utterly hateful to play. They are mercifully brief, if woefully balanced, and they highlight the astonishing pile of issues from which the whole game suffers.

As if the last 200 years of gaming never happened, Homefront: The Revolution makes mistakes that otherwise seem to be dying out in AAA releases. The AI, for instance, is abysmal. NPC teammates will incessantly block doorways to ensure you get killed, and here, with no quicksave, this can ruin giant amounts of hard work – carefully pick your way through an enemy enclave, meticulously take out baddies, and make your way toward your goal, and then one of the arseholes traps you in a room and gets you scanned by a drone, ensuring the entire mission is down the drain.

Enemy AI is equally poor. Baddies will alternate between standing and squatting behind the same bit of cover no matter how many times you shoot them, and there’s a fairly good chance you’ll take them out as they jog eternally on the spot with their faces pressed into a wall. Their stupidity seems to reach the remarkable extent of not knowing when they’re dead, with apparently perfectly placed headshots not registering frustratingly often, and some of the silliest bullet sponging I’ve seen in a while, despite blood splattering everywhere. Red zones seem to possess an infinite number of enemies, too, meaning you can end up surrounded by comedic towering piles of enemies as you laboriously pick your way through them waiting for a gap to go complete a task.

It has a day-night cycle that bears no relation to anything like time, which is exacerbated by the utterly ridiculous winding forward after every base is captured or task completed. And this is a problem because night time is a mess. The game in the daylight looks amazing, just ridiculous levels of detail in the humongous city. At night it’s a smear of grey drear, enemies appearing from nowhere, details nearly impossible to spot for finding hidden hideouts and treats, terribly lit and infuriatingly more tiresome to play.

And boy does it get tiresome to play. The extraordinary amount of time and effort that’s gone into Homefront 2 is breathtaking. This game is so bloody big, and not just via filler – there’s acres of story, character dialogue for all the side jobs you do, and a constant sense of progression and environmental change as you spread around the city. I’ve been playing it for days and days, desperately trying to get somewhere near an ending to review it, and by the map’s coverage I’m only two-thirds through. This is a big ol’ game. Which makes it agonising that it feels like it needed another six months or a year in development to be the game it deserves to be.

Goodness knows what a miserable tale there is behind this development, from being caught in the death of THQ, then being passed around through Crytek, and eventually finishing with Deep Silver. It can’t have been easy. It also must have hurt like ten thousand daggers when The Division came out and did everything they were setting out to do, but rather better. And the result is something that feels only half cooked. Enemy AI is possibly the largest part of that – it’s tragic to see a game so thwarted by the sorts of brainless goons that gaming finally seemed to be shedding. This is never better exemplified than by the batshit pathfinding for the enemy vehicles, which will repeatedly slam themselves into dead-ends, making dreadful pained noises as they beat themselves slowly to death against a wall rather than reversing.

There’s no pattern to enemy movement, no logic to when they hold back or rush in, and definitely no teamwork between them. Instead they just bob up and down behind a wall, waiting for you to beeooorrrp them in their faces, while others spawn behind you and kill you in two shots.

Movement is the other deeply problematic area. I confess it was far too long before I realised an “aim assist” setting was responsible for the sluggish mouse movement, and that switched off dramatically improved things. But it did nothing to address the farcically terrible running and jumping. You’re often required to jump gaps to reach areas, but unless you’re sprinting your character will choose to just fall three storeys into the pavement rather than grab at a ledge. Tiny gaps require hilarious run-ups, while mantling is deeply broken, and randomly executed. Which is to say nothing of the motorbikes.

They’re scattered around the city, and “useful” for either travelling long distances, or leaping off ramps to reach certain areas. But bugger me, they’re dreadful. Have you ever been to a fair and they’ve got one of those wobbly bikes that are impossible to ride? This is them, motorised. It is over seven hundred million percent easier and faster to just run everywhere than try to balance on those daft disasters.

Death is very minor, but endlessly annoying. You awake in the nearest safe zone you’ve captured, your only loss any “valuables” you were carrying. These are items scavenged as you play, worth about $10 each, so it’s a minor inconvenience. Most of your progress is maintained, bases generously respawn health kits and ammo each time. But death comes too quickly, too easily, and far too often not at your own fault, and can be a hefty setback if slogging through a particularly poorly designed base takeover. (Although it has led to my discovering that often you can expedite matters by running past all the baddies and dashing to the end goal and hitting “E”, rather than playing properly.)

And yet, despite all these enormous flaws, there’s so much to celebrate in Homefront: The Revolution. It really is a huge accomplishment, an attempt to step on Ubisoft’s toes, and in so many ways a successful one. Whereas Ubi’s games from The Division to the Far Cries have fairly ubiquitous-feeling cities/islands to explore, Homefront’s Philadelphia is really impressively varied. The shift in approach from a red to a yellow zone is both very welcome, and far more interesting. Getting to walk about in the streets, being extremely careful, but not having to shoot everything that moves, is great. Carefully negotiating your way through back alleys and finding routes up rubble-strewn buildings to reach hidden stashes, then creep across board walks to reach a distant balcony, jumping (when possible) for a ledge, and reaching an enemy target without having had to set off alarms is completely splendid. As can be picking them off one by one with your sniper rifle.

Weapons are given a novel and interesting approach. You can carry three at a time, one of them being a pistol, but each can be transformed into two others. My battle rifle (for which I recommend you start saving the moment you start playing) can be changed into a marksman rifle (sniper) or Freedom Launcher – a form of rocket launcher. Quite the conversions. The crossbow ludicrously can become a blunderbuss or flamethrower! It’s very daft, but at the same time, gives you a broad array in your arsenal (once you’ve unlocked them). And ammo is free – the weapon cabinets from which you buy new bits and bobs automatically fill your bullet pockets each time. Splendid.

As well as the big weapon changes, each (and each variant) can be adapted with different scopes, handles, muzzles etc, letting you craft a very specific weapon that suits you. Then alongside these are equipment improvements, scavenged items that are used for crafting various incendiary devices, and the best thing of all, RC cars!

These toy cars are used to carry explosives, hacking bomb things, and the like, driven where you want them, and then remotely detonated. They are, like so much in the game, oddly poorly implemented (seeming to suffer from ridiculous amounts of static interference for no good reason), but tremendously satisfying to successfully deploy. Get into a good hiding place, drive your car under a (very convenient) slot in the enemy defences, and then have it blow up a padlock on the other side of a door, and you’ve got yourself a way in!

My guess is that Homefront: The Revolution isn’t going to score so well in the land of game scoring, because it’s quite so replete with issues. And that makes me sad, in a way, because there’s quite so much here. The story, while meagre in depth, isn’t bullshit for once, and the city itself is superbly designed. It feels like it could have been the step forward from Ubi’s stale format, had it only been given more money and time, better resources for AI, and a good few more passes for bugs, glitches and the like before release. (I’ve gotten stuck in scenery far too often, and once fallen out of the edge of the world. Oh, and you know when your phone goes weird and won’t stop telling you you’ve got a message you’ve read. The in-game phone has that bug. Argh.)

But at the same time, it’s one of the most interesting games in the genre, trying to be so much more than the usual icon hunt such open-worlds offer. Scripted sequences may be generally dire, but they’re there with a goal to offering yet more variety alongside the hugely different tones to different zones, the different tactics needed to approach different atmospheres, and weapons that can be a treat to use.

It’s complete madness that the game is sullied with the utterly awful Homefront reputation, and no, thank God, this game doesn’t feature the instruction, “HIDE IN THE MASS GRAVE”. All such revolting attempts at “commentary” are gone, replaced with a daft, paper-thin tale about rescuing some guy for some reason – you’re not watching parents getting executed in front of their infant children this time out. (Wow, Homefront was a hateful piece of crap.) This is a whole other thing. But it’s a clumsy, annoying thing, despite its epic ambitions.

I want to be able to recommend it so much, but I’m also aware how much time I spent bellowing at the screen because NPCs wedge themselves in doorways, or the godforsaken airships spawn immediately above your head and scupper all your hard work. I’m aware how dreadful the AI is throughout. I’m aware that despite its attempts to move things on it’s extremely derivative of a genre that’s wearing itself thin. But I want to recommend it anyway. It’s got this weird bubbling heart underneath it, a clear desire to be a great game despite not being able to reach it. It’s packed, varied, and so bloody enormous. It’s a real muddle, and a muddle for which I’ve developed a real soft spot.

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  1. Evil Pancakes says:

    “Is there still a shop that even sells PC games?”

    To answer your question: Yes. Where I live there is a small local gamestore that sells a few PC games. It’s a sad small rack next to the cash register. Kind of like those racks next to the cash registers in a super market where they try to sell you some last minute sweets and whatnot.

    • John Walker says:

      I imagine that little rack will make their delaying the game internationally all worthwhile : )

    • Eiv says:

      Will say that GAME has stepped up to the mark in this regards in Dundee at least. They have a massive section for PC peripherals and games. Was genuinely impressed the last time I went in. Saying that, most games are just steam codes in a box these days.

    • Rizlar says:

      Walked past the old Channel Films premises in Camden the other day. Signs still up in the window ‘bin bag of DVDs £10’.

      • Louis Mayall says:

        That’s the most Camden thing ever. Always getting worse, never hitting rock bottom

  2. knight666 says:

    I was one of the idiots who bought, nay *preordered*, the original game. It truly was a godawful slog of a game.

    Besides the flaws you’ve highlighted in your review, this looks to be a lot more interesting game. Color me intrigued.

    • Evil Pancakes says:

      I did too. Best thing about that was I got Metro 2033 with the pre-order, which was much more enjoyable than the game I actually bought.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        And I got Homefront for preordering Metro Last Light

        Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba…

    • dozurdogbite says:

      aah damit now…
      I painted the wrong guy sorry runty :/

      • Runty McTall says:

        Heh, thanks for the clarification – I was just like “I don’t get it?” :)

  3. Runty McTall says:

    Great review John, thanks.

    I’ve heard that you can do the whole thing co-op – is that true? I love me some campaign co-op and hopefully it would reduce the mission-failing NPC count by one, at least.

    • dozurdogbite says:

      ok then,
      let me get out my colorbook here…
      unfortunately my coloring skills are a bit rusty, so don’t expect 2 much.

    • John Walker says:

      Co-op lets you play through the missions in the larger map areas with three others, rather than play through the game from the start.

  4. Gap Gen says:


    • Memnarch1113 says:

      Oh God I just started snickering at the deli abort abort.

      Is that from something or are you just brilliant?

  5. Ross Angus says:

    This all affects the area’s “Hearts & Minds” rating, which at 100% sees the public turn on their overlords and the area switch from tense peace to out and out rioting.

    So it’s like the inverse of Fallen City then?

  6. Morcane says:

    This review reads like ‘we’re desperately looking for good things to say’, while Jim Sterling just tells you outright: 1/10 accursed.

    Come on guys.

    • John Walker says:

      This is my thoughts and feelings about the game, written in detail over 2500 words, explicitly explaining what was good and what was bad about it, and discussing the internal conflict this caused for me.

      I’ve read Jim’s review, and aside from being fairly certain he’d left “aim assist” switched on, don’t agree with his assessment. It’s definitely not a “1/10” game, and I think he’s being rather silly.

      • Morcane says:

        Fair enough.

      • Zach Fett says:

        Jim is someone I can’t trust with reviews. I like his non-review videos, but as soon as he tries to score something you can tell he’s trying to score it in a way that’ll stand out from the rest. A 1/10 is just about the most ridiculous score to hand out unless the game is completely 100% broken and mind numbingly boring and has absolutely no positives.

        I appreciate that your review was in depth, as I can always expect from RPS. Keep up the good work!

        • James says:

          “A 1/10 is just about the most ridiculous score to hand out unless the game is completely 100% broken and mind numbingly boring and has absolutely no positives.” That is the general thrust of his review. Here is the little summary he gives at the end:

          “Simply put, Homefront: The Revolution is outclassed in its bracket by every other big-budget game released this generation. And that’s without getting into how shockingly shit the PC version is. This game made me feel unwell, it bored me to tears, and it irritated the piss out of me.”

          Reading his review (and seeing some of the footage he captured) I can understand why he gave it a 1/10, his seems to have been a particularly atrocious experience.

          • mrmistermeakin says:

            Agreed, coherent flow, all negative, he had many problems, hated the experience, and judged it accordingly.
            How can that be silly on any level, without getting into the objectively stupid ‘6/10’ is = to ‘1/10’ mentality.
            Not only does Jim fully explain his reasons in the review, he even goes so far as to offer an explanation of his scoring system.
            He doesn’t owe you or anyone anything in regard to scores… He gives a score based on his, openly admitted, subjective opinion.
            I am just mystified as to how people can’t accept that…

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            You understand that the review was his subjective opinion, but you don’t understand how someone could disagree with that opinion?

            I mean maybe John just feels like there needs to be some space on the scale beneath this game for games that are even worse.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            If there is a huge booger in your pizza you don’t eat the pizza around the booger and rate it a positive experience.

      • iainl says:

        This is honestly the first news I’ve heard that Sterling does ‘real’ reviews, rather than opinion pieces in which he either praises to heaven or eviscerates games with more regard to his comedic effect than fair assessment. Which is, you know, totally fine as long as you know that’s what he’s doing.

      • mrmistermeakin says:

        On what ground is he being silly? Why is ‘my review has 2500 words’ a defense again anything?
        Besides the fact Jim doesnt repeat ideas and is much more verbose than you, to follow up with ‘he is being silly’ when you openly advertise, in what seems the most trite and obnoxious way possible, about how ‘subjective’ you are… very childish

      • mrmistermeakin says:

        Oh, hahah, and on what grounds can you judge is a game is ‘not x/10’, when you refuse to give a score?

        • laiwm says:

          John doesn’t need to give the game a score to be able to say that it is not total garbage, which was the basic thrust of his review. And it’s fair to say that Jim is probably being silly – I haven’t read anything of his in some time but back when I did, being silly was his whole schtick. He’s like Zero Punctuation is/was – entertaining, but not where you go for a sober assessment of a game.

          • mrmistermeakin says:

            But again, you are defending one subjective argument because ‘he is John’ vs saying another is silly because ‘he is Jim’
            And really, the one key thing from both reviews is truly awful A.I.
            In my, subjective, opinion, John reviews what could have been, Jim reviewed what is.
            Regardless, my main point was why does John have to call Jim silly?

          • Pantalaimon says:

            As stated he’s being silly because he scored it 1/10. There are some truly dire, broken or offensive game experiences out there that might justify that kind of response (many of which John surely had the pleasure of reviewing at PCG), but in Jim’s world the review context is the singular experience of playing the game in question – not the real life context of thousands of games you might have ever played or written about and wider culture in general. Thus every game he plays is the best or worst game ever at that particular moment. His writing is entertainment, not criticism. It shouldn’t really inform buying decisions.

            Compare to John who’s at absolute pains to give context to the game and the games’ development, who wants to see games being progressive and criticises games in the context of n decades of gaming, and you can probably see why he might think Jim is being silly.

          • mrmistermeakin says:

            Cant reply to my own thread now…

            RE: Jim Sterlings’ review policy

            At the end of it all, John cannot accuse people of being silly, for using a system of criticism he refuses to use anymore, because its ‘too subjective’, while using dumb defenses for why his criticism is more justified, like the ‘I wrote 2,500 words’…
            Especially when the majority of the words are actually negative…

          • laiwm says:

            Not sure where this “too subjective” quote comes from – ctrl+F “subjective” on this page and your comments are the only place it appears. And John wasn’t saying his review is better because it’s got loads of words, I’m not sure how you can get that from his comment. He was saying that these are his real and nuanced thoughts about the game, in response to someone saying he was just looking for something good to say.

            I’m not “defending one subjective argument” vs another – both Jim and John are being entirely subjective. It is impossible to be objective about an entertainment product. My personal, subjective opinion is that Jim’s style of writing is silly. So is John’s sometimes. And that’s fine.

          • mrmistermeakin says:

            It is well know why RPS doesnt use scoring systems… It wont be on ever page of every review now will it?

            If it isnt a defense (re: 2,500 words) why use it in a comment questioning his review?

            And of course being silly is OK, but not throwing out, what for this site, and its very delicate views on criticism of people, has to be regarded as an insult, particularly on a professional level.

            Which in regards to this game is kinda funny, seeing just how terrible the AI is, how game breaking the bugs are, and at what price it costs.

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            this entire debate/argument is silly.

          • laiwm says:

            @mrmistermeakin, I still don’t understand what point you’re trying to make. John thinks it’s silly to give the game 1/10, because John found it to have some worth. It’s probably a minor professional faux-pas to say so, but I imagine that Jim would take it in good humour. I haven’t played the game and I haven’t read Jim’s review, so I don’t know why I’m even commenting. In closing, I agree with @rustybroomhandle and score this argument 1/10.

        • Ragnar says:

          You don’t have to give a score to tell if a score is appropriate or not.

          In a medium where 7/10 equates to good but flawed at best and mediocre at worst, a 1/10 indicates that a game has no redeeming qualities whatsoever aside from not blowing up your computer.

          John’s review pointed out several redeeming qualities. So either they played two completely different games, or Jim is just using the 1/10 score for shock value to draw attention. Which is exactly what he’s doing, and is most charitably him being silly.

      • Wisq says:

        Regarding “aim assist”: If the game ships with a feature enabled by default, I think it’s fair to judge it with that feature enabled.

        Obviously, it would be ideal to notice that feature, disable it, mention it in the review, and be done with it. But, let’s face it — a lot of players are going to end up playing it with that feature enabled, and are going to have similarly bad experiences.

        It also sounds like Jim hit a lot more issues than you did. We don’t read reviews so we can hear someone say, “Well, the game was utterly unplayable for me, but I see that other people think it’s actually a playable game, so I guess I’ll just assume the problems are unique to me. Five out of ten!”

        Let’s not start second guessing other reviewers’ reviews, please … that’s the sort of thing the video gaming community really needs to get past.

        • fish99 says:

          Any reviewer worth their salt should be having a good look through all the options menus before playing/reviewing any game. I’m not even a reviewer and I would do that, especially if the aiming felt off. It’s as basic as flipping the mouse y-axis.

          Of course I’m assuming here it is something you turn off via the options and not an ini file.

      • jdwohlever says:

        I like to watch Jim for his humor, but I always take anything he reviews with a huge grain of salt because sadly I have found he isn’t very intelligent when it comes to playing games correctly. He never reads instructions, readmes or manuals. I can’t tell you the number of times he reviewed a game as bad when he clearly was doing something wrong and was blaming the game for it.
        I rate Jim Sterling’s worth to rating a game for me like most people would Conan O’briens “Clueless Gamer” segments. Only difference is Mr. Sterling doesn’t like to admit when he is wrong or doesn’t know something. Jim is entertaining, but I wish people would stop using him as a yardstick for measuring a game’s worth.

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Watch his review for 3089. It’s a small first-person action RPG made by one guy in a JavaScript engine, costs like $5. Not the greatest game by a long shot, but it can be a fun little game. Jim’s review absolutely slams the game as being worthless, but here’s the thing: he never even ATTEMPTS to play the game! He walks around complaining about the walking speed being too slow. There’s a bloody sprint button and it’s the same button every game uses!

          The only thing I’ve ever read by Jim Sterling that I’ve enjoyed is his apology piece when he realized how much of an asshole he had been to women over the years.

      • rgbarton says:

        I’ll just leave this here

        link to twitter.com

        Anyway I must say that I’m disapointed that a reviewer for RPS a website that advocates the idea of subjective opinion based reviews would try to discredite the opinion of another reviewer

    • f0rmality says:

      Jim Sterling also gave Fallout 4 a 9.5/10 which is frankly laughable given the state it was launched in and it’s cool reception. Especially comparing it to the 8.5 he gave Witcher 3.

      Let’s be realistic Jim Sterling is never fair, he’s extremely opinionated and that’s totally fine it’s his site and his review, but I would never trust his review scores as being anything other than extreme exaggerations.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        You know it is entirely possible that people might exist who think Fallout 4 is a better game than The Witcher 3.

        • fish99 says:

          ..but I doubt there more than 1 person on earth who thinks it’s worth 9.5. I’d have to assume he didn’t play much of it.

        • Jediben says:

          Those people would need serious medication for their delusions: thank god there is no one that warped.

    • Caradog says:

      The reviewer clearly enjoyed it, despite its many flaws. How is that “desperately looking for good things to say”?

    • fish99 says:

      1/10 would imply most of the game was broken and there was virtually no redeeming merit to any part of it. The game is sitting at 56% on metacritic, so clearly Jims peers don’t agree with him. His is the only review under 50%.

    • robby5566 says:

      A review that mentions BOTH bad AND good things?

      Please say it isn’t so! I can’t begin to wrap my head around this! In future RPS, please post only a number score and nothing else.

      Actually not even, still too nuanced and complex. Please reduce your reviews to a smiley face or a frowney face. Ta.

  7. Tetrode says:

    I may well be the only person in the world who didn’t hate the first Homefront. Yeah it was very short and linear but I thought the gunplay was quite fun and the set pieces were alright. *shrugs*

    • Ross Angus says:

      I think this is the article on the development of the original Homefront which was (probably) linked from The Sunday Papers a few years ago. I remember it being really interesting.

    • Pantalaimon says:

      It was a bit of a janky play experience but that was kind of the worst thing you could say about it. It was well-meaning, demonstrative, kind of juvenile stuff. The devs tried some things. I think people just dimiss these kind of games as terrible, for fear of being caught finding some enjoyment in them. When they’re not great and not godawful, and they’re just so-so, you actually have to justify what in the experience is fun to you, and people shy away from being in that position.

      Sometimes fun is fun. I had fun playing it online. Some of the things it did differently appeared elsewhere afterwards so I guess other devs did too.

  8. Volcanu says:

    Am I the only one who giggled at the idea of people going around shouting “Norks” in a serious tone?

    Do they ever mix it up by shouting “boobs”?

    • Geebs says:

      “Look, sir! Norks!”

      “Soldier, secure those Norks!”

      “I can’t stand these Norks!” “More of a face man, are we sir?”

      Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to play this game.

    • Ragnar says:

      The game is clearly counting on Australian Steam reviews to bolster it.

      “Crammed full of Norks! 10/10”

      “Norks everywhere you look!”

      “More Norks thank the Sakura games!”

    • Keios says:

      In the next Homefront game the invasion will be of London by committed Somerset separatist rebels, resulting in the bad guys having the nickname of “Bristols”.

    • Pink Gregory says:

      I’m not on board until they release the ‘Richard Richard and Eddie Hitler Voice Pack’ DLc

    • Sarfrin says:

      I certainly can’t take ‘norks’ seriously as a racist epithet.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      Norks. Norks never change.

    • byjimini says:

      Is the 18 rating for the violence or for being able to “unload onto a pair of norks”?

  9. BobbyDylan says:

    North Korea huh? Can’t wait for Homefront 3 when, Botswana invades and conquers the US.

    • Ancient Evil says:

      Well, in the review it explains they’ve come up with a whole new backstory. It’s still utter ridiculous nonsense, of course. The idea that the top weapons manufacturer in the world would somehow end up importing their arsenal from North Korea, of all places – a hated enemy whose best military technology at the moment still doesn’t exceed Cold War vintage – is preposterous.

      But at least it’s somewhat more plausible than the whole “North Korea conquering the US by conventional means” storyline of the previous game. And both games don’t use the current North Korea – they’re set decades into the future in which North Korea has become an economic and technological powerhouse. Which in of itself is still completely bonkers batshit absurd.

      Yeah, I guess I’m just splitting hairs here. Then again, I don’t primarily evaluate games based on the plausibility of their storylines. I can’t imagine what measly selection you’d be choosing from if you did that.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        Hey, I’m all for the absurd premise. I this think it’s a missed opportunity to not go full-stupid. Think, maybe that Australian American war. Or how about Cuba conquering mainland Europe. I think if they were gonna go with implausible enemies, there’s so much more flavour to be extracted from that premise than North Korea.

        • All is Well says:

          Ah, but Norks (being communists) are obviously evil, and more importantly, do not constitute a potential market for this game. At all.

      • All is Well says:

        Well, to be fair, I think there’s a bit of room between the “not-very-plausible” that seems to be video gaming standard, and “blatantly implausible”, and “DPRK becomes world armory; uses undetected backdoors in military hardware to defeat USA” seems to be towards the latter end of that scale. It’s really only more plausible than the previous plot in the same sense that “Octopus assassinates prime minister” is more plausible than “Squirrel murders mafia boss”.

        And I don’t think anyone is using that as a primary metric of evaluation.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        There is some precedent for this, actually: A lot of the weapons that the US army now uses are from Belgian (M249, SCAR) or German manufacturers (M416, MP5, M27). Although there are laws in place that prevent the US Army from buying equipment that is produced in other countries, these weapon companies have bypassed this by simply opening up production plants in the US, at which point they can sell their weapons freely.

        • Shadow says:

          Yeah, but that’s talking about long-term allies, and not widespread adoption of military hardware. This would be like replacing most everything with Russian hardware, times 10.

          And all that assuming North Korea could somehow– Ah, nevermind. The premise is so mindblowingly implausible one could expect the “Norks” to be riding winged unicorns with the same degree of justification. Even Godzilla sounds more sensible than this.

          • Ragnar says:

            You say it’s improbable now, but just wait until North Korean tiberium refineries ramp up production!

        • Rizlar says:

          They should totally have made it the United States of Europe that sells them dodgy arms then invades, led by really existing warmongering arseholes like BAE.

          And then they could have got Nigel Farage to fund the extra six months of development it needed.

      • urbanraccoon says:

        I recall the original Homefront was to be a much more plausible China invasion, and they had even done chinese voice acting and everything. But near the end of development China got word and was not pleased and I guess there was enough pressure on Ubisoft to change it something less volatile. Especially with the mass grave and parent murder. I think it was clear to some that the soldiers didnt look korean when it was released. And who gives a fuck if North Korea doesnt like how they are portrayed, right? Oh no they banned the game?! How will it ever make a profit!?

      • welverin says:

        They created an alternate history with a different outcome and fallout from the Korean war, so it’s not like they just had the US start buying it’s military hardware from North Korea in 2010 after all the real world events that led up to it.

    • Geebs says:

      In Homefront 3, the plucky rebels will inevitably refer to the invading hordes as “Botties”

      • Einsammler says:

        Perhaps they will improve the AI by then, so they can be Bots?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Wasn’t it meant to be China, a country with the economic cloud and technological base that the premise would at least be remotely viable, but they decided that they’d want to sell this game in China in the end?

      Or am I thinking of the remake of Red Dawn?

      • Shadow says:

        I think the Red Dawn remake also featured North Korea as the antagonist. And if the original Homefront’s first antagonist was supposed to be China, they must’ve abandoned the idea before the main previews were released.

      • TwwIX says:

        You’re right about both. It’s right on their wiki pages. Hell, they even filmed most of the Red Dawn remake with China as the antagonist before they panicked and re-shot several scenes along with digitally altering any references to China, America’s future owner.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      There really is no understating the absurdity of the premise, and no justification that isn’t going to be strained to a point that would make Stretch Armstrong tap out. It’s literally one of the poorest countries in the world. Places like Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Vietnam are economic powerhouses compared to the DPRK.

      • Optimaximal says:

        Give the original game some credit – they predicted Kim Jong-Il’s death by 6 months, but had no way of knowing if Kim Jong-Un was as deranged as his dad.

        • Shadow says:

          As far-fetched as it was, I think the original’s premise was indeed somewhat more plausible, attributing NK’s rise to the decline of its neighbours and NK’s seizing of the situation with uncommonly savvy politics.

          It’s light years better than handwaving one of the world’s premier powers to become dependent of an utter backwater.

          • Comco says:

            Agreed….I might be in the vast minority here, but I’d say that the original game’s premise was a more plausible than what I’m hearing of its sequel.

            link to youtube.com

            The intro above paints the picture of the US in complete economic breakdown with the dollar collapsing and then a birdflu epidemic to top it off. In their far fetched future history, NK’s leader successfully unifies the Korean peninsula (something that will hopefully actually happen one day and is not in itself implausible) and for whatever reason, NK’s leader is the one who gains control of this united Korea. Now, NK being a world power is definitely implausible – but a combined Korea has the potential to be an economic powerhouse – South Korea on its own already is.

            The biggest question mark over the original story is – ‘uh…What happened to that large Asian country that shares a northern border with NK? While I can swallow a US in decline, pulling their troops out of the Pacific and opening the way for an aggressive Korea to invade its neighbours, I can’t think of a scenario where the largest military power in the world is going to sit by and let that happen.

            Either way – both games have daft premises.

            While we’re on the topic, an Imperial Star Destroyer would totally destroy the Enterprise any day of the week.

    • fish99 says:

      That’s just the kind of complacency the Botswanans are counting on :p

  10. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    I really want to buy it, 60 euros though? Also I’m not so keen on the “poor, undefended America” thing.

    • FFabian says:

      Poor boy, does it hurt your nationalistic sensibilities?

      • Buggery says:

        I think he might have completely the opposite sentiment, actually.

  11. Ancient Evil says:

    Well going by this review, I’m going to buy this eventually for sure. I have a bit of a thing for flawed gems and interesting-but-broken-ish games.

    I’m especially optimistic because I know that by the time I get around to playing or even buying these kind of games, they’ve generally received a whole bunch of patches that the reviews will largely never account for.

    • Moni says:

      It reminds me of Alpha Protocol, a game that is frankly rubbish. But its dialogue system was so fascinating it actually made the game enjoyable and worthwhile.

      • Ragnar says:

        I think of Alpha Protocol as great secret agent role-playing marred by terrible combat.

        I’m willing to overlook terrible combat for good role-playing.

      • Ancient Evil says:

        Alpha Protocol is fascinating. Yeah, Obsidian succeeded so well at crafting a spy story with meaningful choices that it’s gained quite the fanbase in spite of just how hard they faceplanted on pretty much every other aspect.

    • bit.bat says:

      I guess that it is the games that try the hardest to push things forward that are more likely to end up partially or completely broken. There is something about this imperfection though that is very exciting, I have a soft spot for such games too (the original Hidden & Dangerous comes to mind).

      • Ancient Evil says:

        Boiling Point, too. An open world shooter / RPG of remarkable ambition, from way back in 2005 no less. Broken as all hell.

        The patches really improved things eventually, though those who found Boiling Point’s primary entertainment value in its sheer hilarious glitchiness might disagree with that.

  12. TheSplund says:

    ‘Norks’, seriously? I guess someone didn’t come from Australia; or did they? (see slang variants)

    • Ragnar says:

      In the expansion, the North Korean army is aided by elite counter-insurgent agents from Hong Kong.

      You then have to fight against both the Norks and the Honkers.

  13. alanthegreat says:

    John thank you for a True and down to earth review it was very refreshing. I could see the sharks circling to kill this game before it started because of the Terrible first game. But I took a chance of pre-ordering because I was happy with Cryis team then that went under but then Deep Silver got it,I said to my self well that is good and bad they have done will by gamers, so far. But then some other reviews where coming out and started looking bad, but I thought they where not paid I bet. so I came here for a honest review and I got it, thank you. I will still holed on to my pre-order and try it out tomorrow, when it unlocks.

  14. Spacewalk says:

    I can forgive multiple grammar issues but what I can’t forgive is the missed opportunity to spin it into a haiku.

    “Some (of these) red zones
    become to feel quite racist
    combat, last resource”

    • Spacewalk says:

      This made much more sense when there was a post here that I replied to.

      • Xander77 says:

        Yeah, it seems like the review was quietly edited and my post on the subject deleted. :/

  15. Zankman says:

    What about Multyplayer?

    Also: I didn’t play the original, but, what is wrong with that game having political and/or social commentary? Or just generally being dark?

  16. Neurotic says:

    John’s review of the first Homefront in the PCG mag is something I’ll never forget. In fact, if you look up ‘memorable’ in the dictionary, it actually says “John’s review of the first Homefront in the PCG mag.”

  17. Pantalaimon says:

    The first game got a bad rep from people who didn’t really give it much of a chance (the single player was just mediocre, but the multiplayer was fun and pretty innovative in a sea of CoD-likes). I’m sure the same people will dismiss this out of hand, that’s fine.

    I’m sure it’s just as broken and demented as John describes and perhaps it’s hard to justify buying games like this at release (a rough adventure at best), but I’m excited to play this at some point down the line. Imagine if they actually put in the required fixes…

  18. fish99 says:

    Looks like I’ll be waiting for fixes and/or a sale with this one. Sounds like there’s a decent game hiding under all the issues and bugs.

  19. int says:

    Picture 7: John Noble?

  20. Premium User Badge

    X_kot says:

    So what you’re telling me is that I should stick with the Saboteur?

  21. jonahcutter says:

    “This time out the conceit is at least somewhat better justified – in this alternative timeline, NK started funding the US’s endeavours, and became their primary source of weaponry and warring equipment. But rather cunningly everything had been fitted with a backdoor, meaning at the moment of N. Korea’s choosing they just took over the US military with the touch of a button.”

    No. This is still so profoundly, fundamentally stupid it’s insulting to anyone with a baseline intelligence and a modicum of awareness of the world.

    Also, considering the real, worst-on-the-planet oppression the North Korean people suffer under, using them as a convenient nation of villians (probably because we want to sell shit to the Chinese) intent and capable on invading the U.S. is most foul. They literally suffer from malnutrition and generational growth issues from food shortages. That’s a justice issue that should inflame the gaming press.

  22. Jakkar says:

    I find myself thinking of Boiling Point: Road to Hell, that game wot had you play as Imhotep.

    Can’t be that broken, though. Can’t.

    These games are so… tragic. So much effort, for almost nothing, at times. It could be saved. Will the modders save it?

  23. jdwohlever says:

    THIS is how a review should be done.
    Point out the bad and the good.
    Explain WHY you like or dislike something.

    Thank you Mr. Walker for proving that gaming journalism is not all about people trying to be hip, edgy or funny. (Cough, Jim Sterling, Cough).

    When I read a review I’m looking for INTELLiGENT advice that explains to me what is good and bad. Not some jaded opinion that only focuses on some social justice warrior’s world view. (Cough, Jim Sterling Cough)

  24. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    or Freedom Launcher


  25. vorador says:

    It looks like it’s a pretty good game boggled down by some absurd design choices and an horrible AI.

    Sadly, with The Division out, it’s hard to sell something that is basically worse at all the important bits like gameplay or multiplayer, and with 1/10 of the marketing budget to get the voice out.

    Guess it’s the true end for the Homefront franchise.

  26. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Seems like a great candidate for an “Enhanced Edition” of some sort!
    I’ll be sure to cop that if one comes out.

  27. Jerkzilla says:

    The North Korea thing is really putting me off.