In the year 2024, the Korean army has established occupancy in the United States after the US’s fall from grace and Unified Korea’s rise to power. You fight as a member of the resistance trying to recapture your homeland by any means necessary, against a nearly insurmountable force.
I enjoy future history. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s a cool way of rewriting the more likely form of history into something that seems so far-fetched that it could never possibly happen…or could it? I wanted to be able to turn my brain off about the logistics of Homefront: could Korea really invade and own the US? The game makes a strong case for it. It’s not necessarily how strong Korea becomes, but how weak we become that sets it off. Gas prices skyrocket, our Army dwindles, people die of mass disease and irradiation, and we lose our stronghold on the world’s power through poor military choices, tumbling stocks, and general disarray in our country. If you think the US is so infallible that it could never possibly lose to another force, I think your naivety is showing.
But plausibility aside, let’s focus on the story and setting. Fighting on your own soil is intense. In Fallout 3, China invaded the US in the 1950’s. The world went to shit and you scavenged the wasteland of Washington DC. Seeing familiar settings resonated stronger than, say, fighting on Halo, whatever the fuck that is. There’s been a lot of hype about the story, penned by the writer of Red Dawn, and to me, it does not disappoint. Sure, it’s about the underdog fighting against a grand force, that part’s not so original. But being surrounded in this world, that feels scarily real, is what grabs you. You feel for the characters you can interact with, and especially those you can’t. To put it very plainly, shit is fucked up in this game. There are, to quote Korn: “dead bodies everywhere”. It’s terrifying.
Let’s have a nice rundown of things you see. SPOILER ALERT. You see a husband and wife gunned down in cold blood, only to have their small child run to their dead corpses crying. You see bodies being dropped out of a tractor into a mass grave in a baseball field. You proceed to hide amongst those bodies to evade capture. You see Korean soldiers burning alive and you can choose not to put them out of their misery (and get an achievement to boot). You see Survivalists toying with a Korean soldier as he digs his own grave. Meanwhile, their base is littered with decapitated heads on fence posts and bodies hanging from nooses. You see town bombed by Korean fighter jets, and hear the cries of a baby as you defend a house from Korean soldiers. END SPOILER ALERT.
Yes, shit is fucked up.
And that shit resonates strongly as you go through the game thanks to decent voice acting, nice writing, and a wonderful score. The other thing that’s nice is when you’re watching these atrocities by this overpowering force, you feel like you are truly up against an overpowered force. There’s a billion enemies, it seems, and you rarely have more than 4 people up against them. It’s terrifying. You also see Korean propaganda everywhere, even in destroyed homes where people hide for their lives. You hear gunships flying over saying that the recent civilian deaths were due to your efforts, instead of the Koreans being general dickwads. Man, it really immerses you in the setting. There is no way I cannot recommend this game based on solely the story and setting alone. The game will haunt you. You will be shaken. If you aren’t, then you need to go back to Call of Duty where you’re fighting against…um…whoever it is. With your knife and pistol. Killing a billion dudes with ease. This is not that game.
Unfortunately, that same statement applies to the gameplay itself: this is not COD. Nothing new really happens aside from excellent vehicular controls for a helicopter mission, and being able to direct Goliath, a gun-mounted remote-operated Humvee, at oncoming forces. That stuff is cool. But the gunplay is run-of-the-mill. I had fun with it, and it controlled tightly enough, but it wasn’t as smooth or as quick as COD. There’s no way to get around that. You get used to a certain level of play and when it’s not up to speed, it feels lacking. Speaking of speed, your characters runs sloooooooooowwwww. It’s ridiculous. They need to release a patch where he runs faster. It’s not that everyone runs slow, either. It’s just you. Often I had to run after my fellow Resistance members and they would be miles ahead of me. Am I fat? I can’t be, because I never get winded. It’s a dumb choice.
So is the grenade animation: it’s dumb as shit. You look like a spaz. One thing they did get right was the knife stab: it has weight. There is a nice pause when the knife digs in to their flesh, with a nice “hee-yah!” sort of feel. Effective. Guns also fire nicely, with some recoil here and there, but I found the overwhelming amount of guns in the single-player kind of awkward. Oftentimes I’d pick up a new gun and never find ammo for it. Plus giving them all names with the different scopes is fine, if you’re in multiplayer, but single player it’s a bit tedious.
Another gripe was the animation for NPC’s occasionally went epileptic: heads moved in a weird glitch where they looked like a man possessed in an exorcism flick. Scary. And then, near the beginning, one asshole wouldn’t move a fridge out of the way and I had to reload. Not a huge deal, but come on. I spend a lot of time waiting for you to move shit out of the way, you could be a bit quicker about it. And to get stuck in the wall when you’re moving one early on? That needs to be addressed, STAT, because if you gave a game-breaking glitch at the very beginning of a game, people won’t play on. The game’s short, only 5 hours, sure, and the ending is a bit abrupt if you ask me, but still, people will quit playing at any excuse they get. Fix it, Kaos.
I didn’t play multiplayer. I rented this motherfucker for the story, not the online modes. If i get a decent connection maybe I’ll buy it when it drops in price, I hear the MP is good. But for right now, no. Not a priority.
Homefront shook me to my core. It was exactly what I was looking for story/setting-wise, with a few gameplay quirks in the middle. If you’re looking for something that will fuck your day up and make you question “holy shit, what would we do if we WERE invaded?” then you will love this. Is it implausible? I fucking hope so. All I know is, if we don’t get our shit together, in 10 years, maybe this COULD happen. Then what will you do? Will you fight? Or will you accept your Korean overlords and their delicious BBQ as your supreme lord and saviors? Well, as much as I love short ribs, I say “Fuck you Kim-Jong IL and Kim-Jong Un, this is my goddamn country and you can pry it from my cold, dead hands!”. Actually I probably say “I’m so ronery” because it’s hard to think of that poofter midget without thinking of Team America. Nevertheless, this game will hopefully inspire more awesome shit. I say well done, Kaos, and next time work on the mechanics a bit more.
Also recommended playing: Fallout 3. Seriously, you haven’t played that yet? Fuck you.