Homefront Single Player Hands-On Preview

By Darryl Kaye on November 30, 2010, 1:36PM EDT
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Much has been made of Homefront for its story, and rightly so. The common trend right now with first person shooters seems to be to try and tell a convoluted tale involving twenty different soldiers all involved in conflicts which gamers are expected to care about, not ones that they're made to care about. And this is what makes Homefront instantly more appealing, it has a believable backbone.

Perhaps many people don't believe that North Korea will become a super power, but it's something that people are certainly afraid of. And Homefront tackles the key events which could make it a reality - something which culminates in the invasion of the United States of America by the Greater Korean Republic, which by 2024 contains most East Asian nations.

Playing through the early stages of the single player campaign, it's clear that the aim is to try and touch on that nerve - the realm of plausibility. In many ways, it is quite reminiscent of the film, Children of Men, in which many countries treat foreigners with nothing but disgust. Seeing how the Korean People's Army (KPA) treat US citizens is much the same. You'll take a bus ride around the streets and see parents executed in front of their children, others gunned down as they try to escape and the rest simply herded around like cattle ready to be put to work in labour camps. It generates that 'sick to your stomach' feeling and it does a great job of building hatred towards the antagonists.

This means that when you're let loose, you want nothing more than to exact sweet redemption on the nihilistic KPA. It's unclear why exactly the underground movement want you saved, but what follows your rescue is another indication of what happens in police states. You'll see differing types of resistance as you try to avoid the KPA. Resistance such as submission; those doing whatever it takes just to survive. But you'll also see resistance in the form of retaliation; those who wish to fight for their freedom. Unfortunately these two don't mix and when you end up accidently going into an area where American citizens are trying to live quiet lives under KPA rule, the KPA slaughter them all to make a statement.

It's interesting to see this dynamic, as while the submissive citizens would love the KPA to die, they would rather be passive and get on with their lives. Seeing them act with as much distain towards you as the KPA shows the distinct character differences that you'd be likely to encounter if such an event did happen.

It also shows how much effort the writer, John Milius, and his staff have gone to in order to make Homefront as atmospheric as possible.

The gameplay seemed quite solid, although there was a slight over-reliance on scoring headshots, but what was nice about it was that it again reflected the situation you found yourself in. You'll have to pick up guns from dead soldiers because you'll run out of ammo quickly and this was a brilliant touch. In other games, whenever you pick up a gun it will have more than enough ammo in it, but Homefront wants to raise the level of tension. You need to make your shots count and if you run out of ammo, you'll have to put yourself in harm's way to try and find another gun.

Whether this level of intensity will be maintained throughout the entire campaign remains to be seen, but from this short glimpse of the glimpse of the single player campaign, Homefront might actually be a first-person shooter with a story that's worth talking about. And that in itself is something that many others in the genre don't offer. If the gameplay can be a bit more tuned up, and if the multiplayer can be built upon, Homefront will have all the guns in its arsenal to launch a full assault on the genre.

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