Homefront

Homefront is a first person shooter by Kaos Studios, set in an occupied and rather run-down America.  This follows a speculative future history of rising oil prices, the collapse of the financial system, war, and the rise to power of a unified Korea and a very sneaky EMP blast which renders the US helpless to the invasion that follows.

The game begins with you being beaten and dragged out of your home by Korean soldiers and forced onto a bus, which takes you through the streets where soldiers are beating and killing civilians.. setting the scene, really.  I know from all the reviews what I’m going to see, but it still hits.. especially the little boy who sees his parents shot down by soldiers who then just casually wandered away.  The little boy howled, horrible, terrified cries, and ran to his dead parents.. and I wanted to blast those soldiers to hell.

However, I’m unable to move until a truck slams into our bus, and I’m rescued by the freedom fighters.  I’m given a gun, but I don’t get to go on a murderous rampage.. instead I have to run away through some buildings, accompanied by my new ‘friends’.  My friends quickly begin to annoy me as they keep on yelling at me whenever I step away from the immediate objective, or don’t move fast enough.  The lack of a sprint button also annoys me at times, as the collectible scraps of newspaper are everywhere.. I can go and get them but if they’re not yelling at me to do something, my friends just carry on walking, and then I have to hope that they’re scripted to stop somewhere, because I just can not run to catch them up.

Mass graves.. After a mission in a concentration camp went wrong, we escaped and came across the mass graves.  We took out all the soldiers around the field, as well as the turrets, but then had to hide in amongst the bodies when a helicopter showed up.  I could have done without the xbox key prompt here.. as could some of the gaming press, who highlight the “Press X to jump in mass grave” as an example of what’s wrong with the game.  I’d rather have had a cutscene, though I guess it was done this way to give the illusion of choice.

Later on in the game we headed towards a survivalist camp.  I was set free to make my way to the top of a church to provide cover, having to pick off guards who blocked the way or were close to discovering my friends.  After the tightly controlled earlier parts of the game I wished I’d been able to take out more of the guards this way, but an RPG destroyed my tower and I had to fight my way back to my friends and the helicopter.  Uh-oh..

I shouldn’t have worried about the helicopter, because it wasn’t too hard to fly, and I got used to it very quickly..

Guarding the hijacked fuel tankers was one of my favourite parts of the game.. powerful rockets and plenty of targets to pick off.

Next up was the assault on the Golden Gate Bridge.. this time looking after a gun rather than flying.  I also loved this part.. picking off enemies while in the helicopter, and then making our way along the bridge with less hand-holding.

Something blew up, and I ended up underneath the bridge.. I think this whole section was inspired by Half Life 2, as not only were there broken girders and walkways, but also enemy troops and a helicopter to contend with!  No headcrabs, though 😉

There was even more destruction when I got back on the deck as I got to take out a helicopter and an armoured truck!

All this massive destruction let the game end on a high, despite early irritation with the too-short leash around my neck.

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