The sequel to the 2011 linear first-person shooter, Homefront: The Revolution breaks out into the open world despite a seemingly cursed development cycle, rising through two separate developers’ financial crises, and coming just shy of delivering a vision of foreign occupation in America. Like it’s predecessor, you can see the influences from Red Dawn shine through, only taken a few steps further. This game sets itself well inside an occupied America, years into the fight for freedom, where the KPA (Korean People’s Army), the game’s enemy faction, has more advanced technology to overcome. Despite the game’s fresh look, it suffers from a poor narrative and repetitive tasks.
How Does It Play?
A vast departure from the first Homefront game, you aren’t stuck running in a straight line trying to sprint as often as you can before it wears off. The game is very open, with large sections of the city opened up, lots of buildings to go in, and scatters of cover dotting the landscape.
As you take over control zones, you will meet less resistance.
Philadelphia is broken up into controls zones, much like the more recent Far Cry titles, that once you take over, your troops begin patrolling the sector and you unlock more stores and attachments for weapons.
If you’ve played a Crysis game before you will recognize the weapon customization, swapping sights and silencers on the fly. This also allows you to completely change some weapons, like the pistol to a submachine, or the battle rifle to a “Freedom Launcher,” which shoots fireworks at the enemy because ‘merica. Some of these options diminish the games somewhat serious setting (like the Freedom Launcher), and the ability to swap all these weapon parts mid-mission makes me wonder how big the main character's backpack must be. To unlock everything you need to do the repetitive unlock zone and side quest thing for some time, which is really what pulls you out of the narrative and would be a cool distraction in a game if it hadn’t been done in so many other games, or had tied itself into the story a bit more. You will also have to craft some things by picking up seemingly random items from around the game world or off of your fallen enemies. This, again, feels like it’s something out of Far Cry, Dead Island, Dying Light… Basically, if it’s been in an open world first person shooter, it most likely found its way here.
The game’s firefights can be fun, or they can be a hot mess of bugs. I’ve run down alleys where the enemy seems to have set up an ambush and I have to scramble to find cover before I get smoke-checked.
I’ve also run into occupied buildings where the KPA are floating six feet off of the ground “crouching”, or jumping over a railing onto a stairwell before running back up the stairs, around the railing, and jumping back over, looping this action before I put them out of their misery. So many moments pull you out of the game and remind you of the games flawed development.
The Revolution ditched the traditional multiplayer, instead going with a co-op quick mission mode that becomes the shining light of this game very quickly. The mode lets you and three friends run attack some very open missions, which can prove to be quite challenging, to unlock weapons and armor for your multiplayer specific character. You level this character up and find yourself coordinating with your team to see who’s bringing what into the game, and what skill tree you’re going to go down. Fun, quick, and immersive, I almost wonder if the main game should’ve been more like this.
They didn’t break the mold or attempt to fill the current one.
How Does It Look?
Graphically the game looks really good. After tweaking the gamma setting early on, this is one game where you honestly want the dark to be dark. The style really brings the decay to the forefront, especially when juxtaposed with the new KPA technology that is set up within this fallen city. The character models look great with the different armor sets and weapons, though you will see the same characters often. All in all the visual aspect is where the game shines. The enemies are identifiable, visually, to the different types that they are. The night and day cycle makes a big difference in how you attack problems, and the weather effects when it’s raining turn the various surfaces slick, changing the standard lighting into a light show. The game is very easy on the eyes, which is something I’ve come to expect from anything using CryEngine.
The game is pretty, but this is definitely a case where looks aren’t everything.
How Does It Sound?
The game’s soundtrack ebbs and flows at weird times, the voice acting is, at times, cringeworthy, and you will hear the same lines from the random NPCs far too frequently. The game does very little to pull you in with the audio, which is one of the biggest parts of any game. The weapons sounded unique, with the smaller caliber rounds rattling off in rapid succession while the bass from the battle rifle or shotgun is satisfying, to say the least. The soundtrack sets the tone so poorly however that at some times that it’s almost comical. One moment stands out specifically, as I had just taken over a control point with the music staying low and brooding the entire time I was in an intense firefight, one of the few I actually experienced in the game, and when it was over I hopped on my in-game phone to look at the map and check some other random things and the music swelled to this booming crescendo, as I stood there, checking my email in game… It’s times like this you have to wonder how such a ball was dropped. I also had to tweak the sound settings when I first loaded into the game, as the background music was drowning out the dialogue at times.
A cute kid asking too many questions while banging pots and pans with other pots and pans.
Can You Control It?
The controls play out, again, like a Crysis or Far Cry game. This isn’t a bad thing, for the most part, but the only thing that seems clunky is when you need to aim down the sights and clear a building, kind of a big part of the FPS genre. It’s not game-breaking but can lead to some frustrating moments. The menus work well for the most part after you get the hang of selecting what you want and what you’d like to customize. Moving, sprinting, shooting, aiming are functional, but again seem clunky at times.
Average controls that have become industry standard somehow come across clunky.
How Does It Feel?
With so much at stake with this title, the game felt confused about itself. I really felt like the game wasn’t sure where it would fit on the spectrum of the FPS landscape, so it put a little of everything in there and hoped it would work. The weapons were interesting for the setting, then when you unlock the last forms they turn goofy. The KPA almost looked like the enemies from XCOM 2. The somber, serious soundtrack was offset by the bugs that run rampant through the game. Part Sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic, the game tried to be something fresh in a genre that has seen almost everything. If the game didn’t get so stale, so quickly, it would be one thing, but not even the redeeming co-op mode can really save this game from just feeling unfinished and rushed.
This next point is a personal pet peeve of mine. While you do have very limited health, and you can “recruit” random resistance followers to run around with you, you don’t need to. For some reason, you are NEO, the Dragonborn, and McGyver rolled into one. For me, this is almost game killing. I like to struggle in a game, especially a game where I play as an everyman, a silent soldier, a resistance fighter, fighting against all odds. I shouldn’t be alone, ambushing two KPA patrols at once, but for some reason, I can. The fact that when the game starts I am just some recruit that happens to get captured and then freed by the resistance’s messiah figure doesn’t transfer to me a hero status, and with no narrative to substantiate this, it makes the fight ring hollow. The rest of the resistance has been fighting for so long without me, it doesn’t feel like I should be the tipping point.
The Feel: 1.0
Like a lettuce and bread sandwich, you’re left asking “where’s the meat?”
A decidedly below average shooter with so much potential.
“An IP is a terrible thing to waste.”