Gaming

Homefront: The Revolution (The Late Review)

Back in 2016 when Homefront: The Revolution was first released its Red Dawn type of setting (a reboot of an earlier game of the same name) there was potential for it to become a franchise in the making. Unfortunately there were a number of negative reviews based on the game’s initially rough state which put a swift end to that plan. However playing it now on my Xbox Series X after all the updates and DLC have dropped and my thoughts are that the game is a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be.

Homefront: The Revolution is set in an alternate future where a technologically superior North Korea has taken over the United States and is now occupying the country. As part of the resistance in Philadelphia your job is to fight back against the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and drive them out. There’s a number of missions available that make up the core campaign and these are tied into an overworld system where you also have to sway public opinion. Success in that will trigger a revolution in the region and allow you to complete your tasks, often moving to a new location. The number of things you can do to help influence the public is fairly small – mostly stuff like destroying propaganda, protecting citizens, setting up “overwatch” sites for the resistance – but they force you to travel through each of the areas to get the points you need to win over everyone. A lot of those tasks have the potential to feel repetitive but you only need to do so much before you’re whisked off to the next map where the change in locale helps to freshen up the experience again.

As a shooter Homefront sits somewhere in between Battlefield and Call of Duty in terms of the gunplay; aim assist is dialed down enough that it requires a little more thought in use. It’s very easy to empty a magazine and barely hit your target so careful aiming of shots is essential. The KPA are capable fighters too and it’s easy to find yourself down and out without realizing how quickly your health was chipped away. Your vulnerability means it’s usually best to use hit and run tactics and I’ve already lost count on the number of times I’ve blasted away at enemies before turning tail to run and hide in an empty apartment or dumpster until the alarms time out. Some of the levels can feel intimidating at first because of their size but you do have the option of using dirt bikes stashed around maps and they work well as there’s often short cuts to find thanks to a number of clearly marked ramps and buildings. However they also have a tendency to attract a lot of attention too so may only be worth the risk when you know exactly what you are doing.

The weapon modification system is limited but neat in its execution but seeing your character strip a pistol down to turn it into an SMG helps to sell the idea that the resistance make do with the resources they have. The changes do have a noticeable impact to how each weapon performs so you may find you stick to configurations that work best for your own play style. A number of throwable items like molatovs, and hacking grenades (to bypass doors) are also available which can be upgraded to allow for additional features such as remote detonating. A number of these are gated behind game progression and unlock points that you earn by completing objectives so it’s wise to check the resistance shops regularly to see what you can improve or gain access to. Additional items can also be purchased with money to improve your character (hold more ammo, health, etc) but you might find that you initially focus more on gun upgrades than anything else.

Visually the game is very impressive with some excellent character detail which are showcased during cutscenes. The game also received an Xbox One X update and the resolution boost that came with it helps a lot. Powered by CryEngine the game has plenty of large open areas which constitute regions within Philadelphia. It’s not fully “open world” but the areas are large enough that they provide enough opportunity to discover different ways to take on problems. Performance is pretty good – I’d assume the extra horsepower from the new consoles helps a lot in keeping everything moving along at a consistent framerate and you could be mistaken in thinking this is a much newer game. Some locations can feel a little too Fallout like with a emphasis on bombed out buildings and lots of grey and brown but the use of lighting and shadow is effective and makes you feel like it’s easy to slip around in the dark, avoiding scanners and soldiers. A nice touch is how areas can change as you turn the people against the KPA – once clean streets become littered, blue flares (the colour of the resistance) spring up everywhere and plenty of people turn on their oppressors and those who collaborate with them.

Homefront: The Revolution is by no means a perfect game – there could be a lot more variety in the side missions and vehicles don’t offer much use in many levels for attention they draw – but it’s a decent shooter that’s benefited a lot from the passage of time, patches and backward compatibility on Xbox and these have smoothed out a lot of its rough edges. I picked this up with all the DLC during an Xbox sale and for what it set me back (only a few dollars) it’s hard not to be satisfied with it. There’s even a full version of TimeSplitters 2 hidden away if you’re wanting additional incentive to try it out but you will have to play through the game to see it. There’s a lot of potential with what’s here it’s just a shame that launch issues put a stop to the resistance earlier than it perhaps deserved.

Homefront: The Revolution is out now for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. Played on an Xbox Series X.

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