GamesCom: Homefront Impressions

By Lee on August 26, 2010, 7:33AM EDT
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In three years time, Kim-Jong Ill's son will reconcile North and South Korea. In eight years time their forces will invade Japan. Then, in 2024, they'll come for the United States. The land of the free will fall to superior military muscle. The Communists will control America.

That's the future according to Homefront, the upcoming shooter from Kaos Studios and THQ. It's your job to win your country back.

You are Jacob, a downed helicopter pilot who finds himself in the middle of the resistance. Taking many of its cues from Half-Life 2, you'll fight alongside friends and families in guerrilla warfare against Korean oppressors across the breadth of the United States. It's a hokey story, but one that taps directly into distant fears of a nation.

At the forefront of the experience is an increased sense of community and belonging. Kaos Studios want you to fight for the people you love. This is most obviously displayed in the first section of the demo shown at GamesCom last week, in which we were introduced to Oasis, the resistance encampment your allies call home.

Makeshift yet welcoming, Oasis is haven from the prying eyes and pointing guns of the Koreans. Hidden from view by camouflage netting and tree cover, it's a crumbling, decaying symbol of all that America has lost.

Children play on swings, crops grow in tidy rows and relatively normal, self-sufficient life continues. That is, as normal as living room munitions dumps allow.

It's here that you will meet freedom fighters such as tough-girl Rianna, father figure and Oasis leader Boone and the thoroughly unlikeable Connor. These are the people that you will bond with over the course of the game. It's these people Kaos want you to love.

But we don't get to hang around long. After a quick tour of the settlement we're were off an a nighttime mission against a Korean base. It's here that the action begins.

And what action it is. Kaos Studios have employed what they are calling a "Drama engine," ensuring that no matter where you are in the environment, the thrills are always directed at you. Accordingly, Homefront promises not to shunt you down corridors in order for you to be a part of the explosive action.

So as your attack on the Korean base progresses, and goes awry, helicopters will come crashing down towards you, towers will topple and carnage will ensue. This section of the demo threw down set-piece after set-piece. It was relentless.

Key among these came early on, with the resistance taking up position at a nearby viewpoint. Sending an unmanned van charging through the gates, the vehicle acts as bait. As the Koreans close in, music blaring from the stereo, a phosphorus attack is launched, raining down fire on all below. Enemies writhe and scream. Rianna begs you to put them out of their fiery misery. It's your choice.

The track playing in the van was Elvis' Burning Love.

The other stand out moment comes at the climax of the demo with Jacob employing a giant, six-wheeled, heavily armoured drone called The Golliath. Using a setting on his assault rifle, you are able to tag enemies, vehicles and buildings, a small red square indicating your intended target. A press of a button and they disappear in a hail of artillery, with the drone spitting multiple rockets in the desired direction. I looks massively satisfying.

But there's the catch, it looks massively satisfying. Before actually getting our hands on the game, it's impossible to tell if Homefront will live up to all this scripted promise.

But one thing is for sure. If Homefront can take the human approach of Half-Life 2 and couple it with the thrilling bombast of Modern Warfare, as it hints at doing here, then it could prove to be very, very special. We can't wait.

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