Originally Published 6 January 2012
I finished up the single player campaign of Homefront today. It’s a rather standard FPS affair: regenerating health, two weapon limit, checkpoints. Basically, it uses the same general play style that every FPS since Halo has used. The only interesting part of the game is its backstory.
Homefront takes place in an alternate future where North Korea has managed to become a major military and political force. Coincident with this, the US’s power has waned. This ultimately leads to a surprise EMP attack by Korea and an occupation of a large part of the western US. The player takes the place of an apparently mute pilot. The game begins with him being captured by occupation forces for unknown reasons and then being rescued by US guerrillas.
Unfortunately, there are two problems with the backstory. Firstly, it seems very implausible to me. I’m willing to accept that the US might lose a substantial amount of military and political power–perhaps even enough to face an invasion–but I don’t think North Korea could, in the decade and a half or so between now and the when the game is supposed to take place, gain that degree of military might. The second problem is more pedestrian: the backstory mostly doesn’t matter. The Koreans could have been palette-swapped to be Russians, Chinese, Nazis, Aliens, or even humanoid Dinosaurs. Aside from periodic newspapers expanding on the backstory, the particular facts of the situation do not matter in the slightest.
Worse still, the game makes very little progress against the background. The entire game leads to one single engagement to retake a single city from the occupational forces. In fact, the entire game is maybe 4 hours long which is hardly enough time to do justice to what might have been an interesting story.
Perhaps the best part of the game is also the hardest to actually watch. Through several segments of the game, we see both the inhumanity–random killings, death squads, summary executions–of the occupying forces against the local populace and then later we see the similar inhumanity–torture, “deadliest game” situations, slavery labor–of insurrection forces against their occupiers.
Overall, I can’t really recommend the game. There just isn’t enough there to make it worth playing.