Review: Homefront: The Revolution
Homefront: The Revolution has been a chaotic development. Started under the umbrella of THQ, with Crytek UK at the helm, forced the studio after couple of years to sell the license to Koch Media, and now completed by the new team over at Dambuster Studios. Between corporate restructure and technical problems, this chaotic game release will leave a mark in this generation, but not the kind we – or the publishers – wanted.
Set in the same ground of the previous Homefront, the modern world as we know it has been conquered by Korea, and the United States and its citizens are being enslaved by the imperial forces. This episode is set in occupied Philadelphia, a torn city that is home to enslaved civilians, which are randomly slaughtered in the streets by the Koreans, armed to the teeth with modern weaponry such as drones, air support, high-tech arsenal. In short, any attempt to resist to the occupation is a pale one, but it doesn’t stop Ethan Brady, our protagonist, to be enrolled in the resistance, in their march for freedom and an upcoming savage war against the APC.
As highlighted above, you have to fight against a vastly superior force, and for that you will be supported by several in-game allies: Sidney Cook, a former policeman and arms dealer, Jack Parrish, a former soldier, Ned Sharpe, engineer, Dana Moore (held captive during the invasion and extremely determined to regain its freedom), and finally Sam Burnett, a surgeon with a tender heart… Each of them will give you missions to complete and will follow you from hideout to hideout, in order to carry out the revolution. Like in most semi-open world shooters, these missions are split into primary ones and secondary tasks such as helping civilians in distress, sabotage to undermine the control of the APC, release prisoners, capture observation posts and take places as strategic points of the enemy… in short, all sorts of stuff to make you stay in the game, especially if you are a completionist kind of gamer.
To make things easier, your map (accessible from a smartphone) has a completion percentage tab for each area, and thus knowing how much you need to fully free a region. Your smartphone will also act as a log book, allowing you to access your missions as well as different elements (notes, scheduler, messages…). Nothing new or original, but hey, it worked in most other games already.
So your job in the end will be to destroy and dilute the APC propaganda machine in the city, which I took great pleasure in doing, even if it seemed to a constant routine. On one hand the linear side or path of the first Homefront is long gone, and on the other hand, the gameplay mechanics also gained a touched of verticality, having you go up buildings to reach abandoned apartments or roofs. The good thing is that not every location is obvious, and you need to use your own observation skills to determine where to go, which can be a very pleasant experience, especially since most of them are highly secure neighborhoods invaded by drones and surveillance cameras. With all these security constraints, not including patrolling soldiers, you must be very vigilant, which really enhances the immersion and gives a nice touch to the gaming experience, making it deeper than a casual FPS. A red bar will notify you on the level of detection of your main character.
A tip for those delicate “stealthy” phases: learn how to blend into the crowds. Like Assassin’s Creed’s stealth mechanics, Ethan Brady can walk into a crowd of civilians, to disappear from its pursuer’s sight, and if needed, escape to safety unnoticed. The stealth system works relatively well, and adds to the nervous gameplay of Homefront which fans of the genre will certainly enjoy. Note that to support you in your struggle against the Korean occupiers, you will also have the choice to hire armed civilians, once those neighborhoods are freed.
Homefront: The Revolution is by base an open-world FPS game that offers a lot of freedom, even if the scenery and environments all look a bit the same… That said, we cannot really expect a city under siege to look anything other than a bunch of ruins. This city is divided into three distinct zones, starting with the Red zone, in which the resistance has decided to establish its base. In this corner of the map, you will be under heavy monitoring from Korean elite snipers and drones. When you are caught, a Zeppelin/Airship will scan the entire region for a set amount of time and put all ground troops on high alert to search for you. The yellow area is the one that is the most populated, which can work into your favor as explained previously. Finally, the green zone is in turn the most dangerous, since it is totally occupied by enemy forces. Here, the missions will not be easy and it will require planning and patience. I strongly advise you to use stealth in this sector, to avoid any encounters, as they may very punitive. Because as it was the case in the first Homefront, the enemy AI is very well done. Finally, on a side note of environmental mechanics, the game offers a day to night cycle, which can change your tactics and the way to tackle a mission.
The fun part about Homefront: The Revolution, and to fit well with its name is that your weapons are true to the theme. Korean weaponry is so advanced that it has a failsafe mechanic that prevents you to use them, and thus the rebellion needs to “develop” its own arsenal: shotguns, machine guns, handguns, crossbows, flamethrowers… In short, the armory is well stocked and good old Sidney – the arms dealer – will be there as always to make sure you get the best gear. Note that in addition to the variety of weapons, each one can be customized thanks to three “attachment” slots.
Other than the typical fire-powered arsenal, you will find some very interesting items which will need to be used wisely: incendiary bombs, Molotov cocktails, explosive RC or even hacking tools. The later will be very useful to fry door locking systems, security cameras, scramble drones or even turn APC turrets against their master. You will also free to use the diversionary device to distract the soldiers and pass neither seen nor known by here when they go take a look there. In short, the rebellion kit is quite comprehensive and makes the revolution fun.
The Resistance has its headquarters in the underbelly of the city, and will allow you to move from area to another using various metro stop, which are scattered all around Philadelphia. Feel free to walk around, go into buildings, loot, and you will find countless precious objects (or not) to sell in the store, just to get your wallet fatter to enhance or buy new guns. You will also find necessary elements and material to manufacture your explosives. If walking around the city is boring for you, then you can drive motorcycles to save time.
All these ingredients should make Homefront: The Revolution a good game, in which you will not be bored for a second. So what’s the catch? Well, a plethora of technical and graphical problems. While the overall game is quite pretty (although I personally feel the texture to be a bit “dated”), there’s still huge problems when it comes to framerate drops, which are happening a lot on console and PC, and in some case freeze the game, forcing me to quit and restart numerous times. Adding on top of that what feels like endless loading times, and other unexpected mobility bugs and whatnot. Definitely nothing that can be compared to the standards of recent productions.
Homefront: The Revolution was reviewed using a PC and Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Deep Silver. The PC version was tested by Luciano Rahal on a PC running a Windows 10 Home, Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor set at 2.60 GHz, 4 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M and 16GB of DDR3 Ram. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
A good and interesting narrative pace.
An immersive universe.
The base of the gameplay is well done
Frequent framerate drops.
These technical bugs destroy the mood of the game.
A bit repetitive in terms of missions.
Mutiplayer feels a bit forced