After a troubled development, Homefront: The Revolution has finally launched. Will the game be able to rise from the ashes of its long and arduous development to become a worthy successor to the previous Homefront game?
The story in Homefront: The Revolution begins after the United states have spent decades making themselves reliant on Korean technology. They finally reach a point where they are just not able to repay the massive amounts of debt that they have accumulated. Korea decides that enough is enough and disables all their technology, leaving the United states defenseless and ripe for invasion.
You are placed in the shoes of the game’s silent protagonist, Ethan Brady. As part of the resistance in Philadelphia, you are tasked with helping to rescue it’s leader Benjamin Walker who has been captured by the KPA forces (the bad guys). Walker is apparently the only person who would be able to sow the seeds of resistance, and it is, therefore, critical that he is rescued before the KPA can end his life. Although the story tends to follow a been there done that formula there were one or two interesting twists and turns, but not enough to keep me invested in the narrative that developers Dambuster Studios were trying to weave.
Philadelphia is divided into three zones. Each color coded according to the influence that the KPA has in these zones. Green would have the least amount of KPA forces patrolling it while Red zones are filled to the brim with elite KPA forces.
Gameplay in Homefront: the Revolution borrows a lot from the Far Cry formula. Instead of having you take over radio towers in order to gain influence over a certain area, Homefront has you taking on various missions in order to gain control of certain points in a district. In gaining control of these districts, citizens will be inspired by your actions and begin to revolt against the KPA forces.
I found most of these missions entertaining and enjoyable to complete, even though they did sometimes become a bit repetitive after a while. It is also a great feeling of accomplishment to see how your actions actually affect the environment around you. Citizens begin to revolt against and even attack the KPA forces as you take over the various districts. Taking over these districts also gives you access to fellow rebels who you can recruit to help you take on some of the game’s more difficult missions. I found that these AI controlled allies actually did a good job of helping me thin out the enemy forces.
One thing to take note of is that players tend to be very vulnerable early on in the game. This means that sneaking around becomes your only way of survival as the KPA forces are outfitted with better weapons and armor than you are (at least in the early stages). Sneaking was a bit of a hit and miss affair. There were moments when I found myself really enjoying the suspense of sneaking into an enemy base and stealthy taking it over. There were also a few times when an enemy soldier would inexplicably notice me while their back was turned towards me. It was usually in these moments that all hell tended to break loose and all that sneaking turned out to be for nothing. These moments were few and I never really found that they frustrated me too much. When you aren’t busy taking over districts you can choose one of the many side missions to complete which nets you some extra money and materials for upgrades.
Homefront: The Revolution has quite a surprisingly deep upgrade and loot system. Not only do you scavenge every inch of every building for different materials, but players can also loot downed enemies for money and other items. These materials can be used to craft Molotov cocktails, devices to distract enemy soldiers with and even pipe bombs. Money, on the other hand, is used to buy new weapons, attachments for the weapons and upgrades in the form of different gear types. Weapon upgrades are similar to what you would find in Crysis. You are able to customize your weapon with all kinds of attachments, from silencers to extended magazines. Each of these helps make your weapon more powerful.
I found the way in which you are able to modify your weapon type on the fly into another to be a really great mechanic in the game. Being able to quickly change from one weapon to other makes adapting to any situation a lot easier. When purchasing gear you gain certain buffs from them, for instance reducing the amount of damage you take or making your footsteps less noisy. All these different upgrades work really well and were one of the best aspects of the game.
Graphically, there were times when the game looked good, but there were also a few moments when the graphics just didn’t impress.
Unfortunately, I did find that the game had a some bugs, as I had audio disappearing, NPC’s walking around with invisible weapons and even enemy soldiers spawning on top of me. The worst offender tended to be the framerate. It wasn’t such a huge problem when facing a few enemies or running/sneaking around the map, but as soon as the bullets started flying and explosions went off the framerate would drop. Strangely the game also froze for a few seconds every time it auto-saved which was more of an annoyance than anything else. I never found these issues to be so bad that I wasn’t able to play the game, but it did become frustrating every now and then. Luckily, the latest patch does alleviate some of these problems.
Homefront: The Revolution has some great ideas, but fails in executing them all successfully. It does tend to suffer from a cut and paste story, some bugs, and graphical issues, having said this the patches that have been coming out at a steady pace have alleviated some of these problems.
Homefront: The Revolution doesn’t do anything revolutionary. Yet, it is a fun mindless shooter with some interesting ideas, a few fun and compelling missions and a great weapon upgrade system.