18th March sees the UK release of the next big first person shooter game. The hotly anticipated Homefront, developed by Kaos Studios, promises to showcase a brand new take on the familiar genre, while keeping all the thrills and spills usually associated with an FPS.
The game was written by John Milius, and American screenwriter and director, who’s previous work includes Apocalypse Now, The Hunt for Red October and the Dirty Harry series. With this in mind, it is hoped that Homefront can challenge the more established shooters of the moment.
Set in the year 2027, the game features a devastated USA, ravaged by an invasion of the ‘Korean People’s Army.’ Following the decline of the oil industry, North and South Korea unite as the Greater Korean Republic. Armed with nuclear weapons, their aim is to take over the United States and assert their power on the nation.
From the very beginning it is obvious that this isn’t your typical shooter. Unlike Call of Duty or Battlefield, the Americans are no longer a superpower. They are the ones being hunted, and therefore, the vulnerable faction. As the player, you join the ranks of the American Resistance, fighting to prevent the occupation of the country. Adopting ‘guerrilla tactics,’ and making use of what is left of the nation’s depleted military stock, the player must learn fast or be suffocated by the Koreans stranglehold.
Although the chances of this situation ever occurring in real life are unlikely, the story is written and developed in a way which makes the player think. When you play the game, you play as one of the millions of Americans who are quite literally fighting for their lives. The desecrated towns and cities, featured in Homefront, are packed full of civilians. The player is constantly reminded of the circumstances the country’s in, by the women and children who live and survive alongside the fierce warfare.
Homefront’s single player campaign is very much a cinematic experience to play through. Using the Unreal Engine 3, Kaos have created a realistic and explosive action game. A portion of Homefront’s gameplay originates from a previous Kaos title. Frontlines: Fuel of War, released in 2008 in North America only, but was originally intended as a cross platform game. Cancellation for the PS3 of this title was cited on difficulties developing for the fledgling format. However, a great amount of Frontlines has been recreated and recycled for use in Homefront. And Kaos have certainly had a good amount of developing time. Since the first demos of the game were sent out, Homefront has been improved dramatically. Early versions saw enemies AI being extremely linear and rather one dimensional, making for a very easy unchallenging affair. Following a major amount of tweaking, the game has developed into a full-on, in your face experience.
As with the majority of games these days, and more importantly FPS’s, a large proportion of the game is dedicated to multiplayer. For certain gamers, online multiplayer is the be all and end all of a game. And Homefront is no different. It features a lot of vehicle based fighting using a variety of military transport. With up 32 players able to compete in a match at any one time, it’s obvious how large scale the game is. Battle points are Homefront’s equivalent to Black Ops’s experience points or cod points. This is the currency players use to enable them to buy weapons, upgrades, gear, vehicles etc. As always, the better you play, the more battle points you’ll earn. However, the player is then given the option of cashing in on a lot of smaller scale items, ie, weapon upgrades, or deciding to go for one large, high profile item such as an attack chopper. One difference between single player and online is that they are not set in the same time period. As a single player you play immediately after the Koreans have invaded. Whereas, multiplayer sees gamers pitting their wits before America’s military have been disbanded.
With only a week left until Homefront hits our shelves, it’s certainly shaping up to be a class act. However, in an already crowded FPS market, can Homefront show itself to be a capable contender against already established shooters? All will be revealed on March 18th!