Thursday, 26 May 2016

Homefront: The Revolution

What a weird history the development of Homefront: The Revolution has had. It’s been taken away from the original developers, had the publisher shut down, developers had the rights to the game bought back, then the developer sold it on to a new publisher and here we are with the game that has been troubled for the best of four years. How troubled? Well it’s acknowledged by the developed in a letter written in the credits of the game . . . .yeah. Developed by Dambuster Studios and out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, Homefront: The Revolution wears the marks of its history all over its game. The foundations are solid as is many of the gameplay mechanics within but both the design as well as the technical shortcomings keep it from anything more than decent. 

Homefront: The Revolution is an open-world shooter that sees you help lead a rebellion against North Korea that have invaded and successfully occupied the country. While the game doesn’t take shortcuts on showing the world and what’s happening that culminates in some honestly impressive moments but the empty narrative surrounding it makes it feel hallow. The story fails in presenting meaningful plot development or relatable protagonists. It feels disjointed and unfortunately never follows through on the promising premise. The idea of North Korea becoming a superpower and taking over the US and how the rebellion fights back is exciting but the execution is weak.

The gameplay though is surprisingly good. Homefront: The Revolution capitalises on the guerrilla warfare of the rebellion and genuinely brings a different feeling to combat. Run in and pull the trigger everywhere and expect to be gunned down. Plan your attack, make your weapons and add parts to your guns to approach different situations. But the game is flawed by many technical problems. With hokey AI that makes the enemy much less enjoyable to encounter it becomes an experience that’s unpredictable at best and underwhelming most of the time. You can take out an enemy in close proximity to another enemy, sometimes in plain site of them and they won’t notice. It means that stealth never feels satisfying. This certainly diminishes the guerrilla-style warfare the game aims to produce.

Probably the more egregious of the shortcomings is the performance. The game, while looking pretty fantastic, barely manages to maintain its 30 frames a second. There are moments when things noticeably slow down and hampers the experience. Also, when the game autosaves, and it does so fairly regularly, the game can freeze for up to ten seconds.

Despite the failings, there is a really fun game underneath. The missions don’t lack variety as it isn’t afraid to give a surprising amount of detail to situations that you wouldn’t be expecting to see in an open-world game. There is some real thought in these situations and make you get through the campaign, even if the story doesn’t hold up. The problem with the open-world nature though is that it gets pretty damn repetitive. It’s fun to go into an occupied area and slowly but surely remove the opposing forces from that area. The problem lies in the fact that you will have to do it again and again and again and again. Seriously, it deserves all those agains.

There is also a co-op mode that is both thin and overly-expansive. There are only six missions here but the mode also features a huge upgrade system for your resistance fighter but it all just doesn’t seem to gel well. It has potential but as it stands, it feels like it expects you to play the same half-dozen missions multiple times. Homefront: The Revolution has so much potential under its torn, burnt banner but as it stands as a product at the time of writing, it’s kind of hard to recommend, even if I did have some fun with it. Technical problems and a dull storyline keep it from being more than it could have been. With fixes in tow however, we could still see a thoroughly enjoyable game.

Homefront: The Revolution proves that its not always sunny in Philadelphia. 3/5.


Jason Redmond

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