Homefront – Preview

Why on Earthwould someone make another First Person shooter when the market is already saturated with more than enough quality titles to cover even the greediest gamer’s needs? There are only two reasons anyone would even try; developers either feel they can make a quick buck playing off of other games, or they feel they have something new and unique enough that it’s capable of turning attention away from the current heavy hitters. Kaos Studios’ newest offering Homefront definitely falls into the latter category. Rather than including another 5 or 6 hour generic, forgettable, and cliche campaign mode consisting of blowing up enemies for who knows what reason, Homefront’s first goal is to tell a story. Don’t think they’re serious? Kaos brought in John Milius, writer of the movies Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now, and Clear and Present Danger to handle the story. Boom.

The plot of Homefront is this: it is the year 2027 and the world has been thrust into war due to dwindling natural resources. America has fallen into disarray and been occupied by the Greater Korean Republic (you know, what you get when you pair a bratty new ruler Kim Jong-un with nuclear weapons and evil ambition). Upon inheriting the rule of Nort Korea from his father, Jong-ununited Korea and proceeded to EMP then invade America.  I guess screwing up  America’s electronics makes it possible to occupy a country with 4x your population and 44x your land mass? Regardless, this is a new brand of evil. For once America’s shores are the ones invaded, and America’s citizens are thrust into the struggle as the last line of defense. Homefront is futuristic fiction; it is meant to be a snapshot of our world gone wrong 16 years from now. According to Kaosthe game is not intended to invoke American Patriotism or be a heroic story of America overcoming the odds. Rather it is meant as a universal message about attempting to relay the struggles and difficulties associated with occupation.

Despite how promising it sounds, a good story can still make for a shoddy experience if the rest of the game isn’t up to snuff as well. So what does Homefront bring to the table? While the character graphics appear to be a slight step-down from other top of the line shooters, they are still more than serviceable. There’s also nothing set in stone saying they won’t look even sharper when the game releases. The rest of the graphics look pretty fantastic. Controls should also not be a turnoff as the vehicle’s schemes are simple and user friendly, while the other controls are likened to Call of Duty. I’m perfectly fine with copying controls, and I’m pretty sure everyone else is pretty satisfied with the current FPS setup as well. If its not broken, don’t fix it. Kaos also claims the setting to be heavily influenced by the movie Children of Men (awesome).

Any FPS game that hopes to compete must also innovate. Single player? Check. But what about multiplayer? Homefront’s multiplayer won’t blow your mind with new features, but it does have an interesting take on it with a few new ideas sprinkled in. Game modes contain battles with up to 32 people total, the abilities to both level up and unlock new weapons/vehicles, and the option to earn battle points during the game…wait, battle points? Exactly. Instead of rewards being dictated by killstreaks, they are dictated by earning these “battle points,” which are essentially used as in-game cash. Obviously kills, headshots, and the like still factor in, but they are not the soul factor in earning rewards.  It seems like teamwork is going to be a lot more important (and better rewarded) than in most multiplayer games, which is a welcomed change.

Multiplayer battles (similar to Kaos’s last entry Frontlines) heavily favor the use of vehicles. One example is the recon drone, with which you fly around the battlefield with the goal of marking enemy units for the benefit of your teammates. The more you mark, the more battle points you get. You even get additional battle points if an enemy you marked gets killed. These battle points give you multiple strategic options based on your choices. For example, the decision whether to buy a missile launcher to take out the enemy helicopter or a drone to knock out some infantry? This allows for another element of strategy in the game with the ability to tailor your purchases to your own style or needs. Players can also control tanks, Apache helicopters, Humvees, and 2 other drones. The drones consist of the aforementioned recon drone, an air assault drone (mini helicopter), and a mobile machine gun which resembles a tiny tank that rolls around with a remotely controlled machine gun. The game’s multiplayer takes place in the year 2025 (2 years before the campaign) during the period known as the “occupation wars.” This is where the US military is still somewhat functioning and fighting to repel the invading Korean army away from the homefront.

You have six unique classes to choose from: Assault, SMG, Heavy, Sniper, Tactical and Stealth. While these should cover all of the strategies a player would desire, it does appear there will be less customization than a CoD title. Your weapons and vehicles can also be upgraded throughout the match to keep things interesting. If you are dominating you may have a seemingly invincible tank by the end of the game, or something along those lines. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of Homefront is the multiplayer mode “Battle Commander.” This mode has a computer AI “general” assessing the match and giving players commands for what to do to best position the team to win the match. For example, if a player on the opposing team has a killstreak going, your “commander” will highlight him and task everyone to eliminate him. The commander will also challenge you and give the player rewards if you accomplish his task. For example, if you just sniped three guys, perhaps he will challenge you to snipe three more. The challenges aren’t random and are assigned based on your style of play so far that game. If implemented well this mode could be truly exceptional, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see various iterations of this mode in future FPS titles.

The game has been lead developed on the PS3, as most companies agree is the easier to develop for, then ported to 360 rather than vice versa. This should quell any fears of Kaos having another “Frontlines” debacle, where the PS3 version was cancelled due to programming concerns. Frontlines: Fuel of War is Kaos’s sole previous title and it was released for the 360 and PC. It received generally favorable reviews and was praised for it’s multiplayer with it’s campaign being mostly dismissed. Obviously Kaos has focused to correct it this time around. So paired with the already solid multiplayer track record we’re hoping Kaos Studios can bring it all together in their sophomore title. Homefront looks to be a promising new IP and one that will offer a fresh and unique experience in a genre that is otherwise rapidly becoming stale.

Homefront’s release date is currently set March 8th for North America, March 10th for Australia, and March 11th for Europe. In keeping with current trends there will sadly be an online pass packed in with the instruction booklet. If you just can’t wait, the novel “Homefront: The Voice of Freedom” by John Milius which is set in the Homefront universe is already available for purchase. I’ve listed the game’s PC requirements and a few more screenshots below for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to check back for more Homefront news and the upcoming review!

Recommended PC Specifications

• Windows Vista or Windows 7
• Quad Core 2 GHz+ CPU
• 2 GB RAM
• NVidia GeForce 260 or ATI Radeon 4850
• 10 GB of free hard drive space

Minimum PC Specifications

• Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7
• Intel Pentium Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 2.8GHz.
• 2 GB RAM
• ShaderModel 3.0 graphics card with 256MB of memory
• NVIDIA GeForce 7900GS or ATI Radeon 1900XT
• 10GB of free hard drive space

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