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Game Info:

Homefront
Developed By: Kaos Studios/Digital Extremes
Published By: THQ
Released: March 15, 2011
ESRB Rating: M
Available On: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 
Genre: First-person Shooter
Number Of Players: 1 offline, up to 32 online
Price: $9.93 US, Amazon

In 2012, Kim Jong-un (son of Kim Jong-il) united the Korean peninsula into the Greater Korean Republic.  By 2015, the KPA (Korean People’s Army) has taken impressive strides towards modernization by using American and Chinese weapons and vehicles.  In 2018, the KPA takes over Japan, subsequently annexing the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, while Malaysia joins willingly.  During the next few years, the KPA serves many peacekeeping actions across the world, seeing action in Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Cuba. By 2023, the KPA has become the largest standing army in the world.  Finally, in 2025, a Greater Korean Republic communication satellite fires an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) into the United States, which is followed up with a mass invasion.  Two years have passed since then, and everything west of the Mississippi River is occupied by the Korean armed forces.

This is the initial plot to Homefront, and what a story it turns out to be!  While trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum, I will attempt to give a decent overview.  You play as former Marine helicopter pilot Robert Jacobs, who is taken from his home to serve ‘America’ (the KPA).  Shortly after his arrest by the KPA, which is nothing more than forced enlistment, members of the American resistance free you.  You will then be greeted with the other major characters in this story, who are Boone Karlson (leader of the local resistance), Rianna (former hunter), Hopper Lee (electrical engineer) and Connor Morgan (former soldier).  From that point on, you will battle throughout the city in order to put a stop to the KPA.  Eventually, it culminates with an amazing fight that takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The campaign is very enjoyable, but goes by rather quickly.  I believe it took about 4-5 hours for me to run through the campaign.  Enemies are not the smartest, but still present a challenge.  The weapons you are presented with provide a decent variety.  Even in the first chapter (which is what missions are called) you get to use a Goliath unmanned ground vehicle, then later in the campaign you get to fly a helicopter.  These are fun experiences and they help keep the experience interesting, but the game still runs through quickly.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent campaign, Voice acting
Weak Points: Online multiplayer was mediocre
Moral Warnings: Violence, War, Language

Homefront is a rather standard First-Person Shooter game.  The controls are easily picked up by anyone with previous experience in the genre.  It does depart from most games when it comes to ammunition.  You will frequently be required to pick up a different weapon, simply because there is not enough ammunition for the one you have.  This is not as common for the KPA weapons, but still occurs.  Some may consider this annoying, but I found it to be an interesting twist that helped further the realism in the story.

The story behind this game is truly one of my favorites and is reminiscent of the 1984 movie "Red Dawn".  This should not be surprising, as the game is written by John Milius, who co-wrote Red Dawn.  Fans of the movie will enjoy a friendly acknowledgement as to what inspired this game.  

The sound in the game is quite impressive.  The voice actors for all of the characters did a terrific job in their portrayal of the fellow resistance members.  The in-game audio was also very good and comparable to many other major First-Person Shooters available currently.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 87%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 60%
Violence - 2/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Overall, the graphics for Homefront are relatively average for when it was released.  Not nearly as impressive as other FPS games, but at the same time they did a pretty good job.  The real support behind Homefront is not the graphics, but the story behind the game.

In regards to the multiplayer, I did not spend a lot of time online in Homefront.  This is mainly because I constantly was suffering disconnections and other issues.  I have not had these issues with other games, which leads me to believe it is not just me.  A quick check shows that despite this, 39 servers are online currently (8 of which have players, and only 2-3 are full last time I checked).  The multiplayer experience is unique when it does work though.  This is accomplished through the use of the Battle Points (BP) system.  When you capture/defend and objective, shoot an enemy, or do other related actions, you receive BP.  This in turn is used to purchase armor, weapons, drones, airstrikes, and vehicles.  At the start of every match, you begin with 500 battle points, regardless if whether or not you did well on the previous one.  This has a balancing effect that is quite helpful for newer players.  It also allows a new player to have access to the same nice items as a hardcore player.

Homefront contains the standard Team Deathmatch for up to 24 players.  Additionally, there is a objective control mode with up to 32 players.  The other version is called Skirmish, and allows for up to 16 players to alternate through both of the previous modes.  There is also a Battle Commander mode for all of them.  This version is capped at 24 players for the objective control mode, but is the same for the other two modes.  The difference here, is that a player that is doing well and killing many enemies, will receive buffs that will make them more difficult to kill.  On the other hand, players who are getting these streaks will be specially flagged to the other team, who will also get bonuses for killing them.

Despite the interesting storyline and gameplay, Homefront did not receive an M rating for nothing.  Blood splatters with every shot, frequent swearing, and the acts you see committed around you mean that Homefront is a hard game to swallow.  The first time I played this game, I actually stopped halfway through for a while because I found some of the in-game content gruesome.  In the very beginning of the game alone, you see North Korean soldiers beating civilians, executing them, dumping bodies off the side of a road, but that is not all.  A mother and father are killed while their toddler stands next to the soldiers crying.  As their bodies fall to the ground, he runs over to them while the soldiers just look on.

These atrocities are not limited to just the North Koreans.  At a point in the game, you break out of the city of Montrose to get to a helicopter under the control of some American survivalists (apparently the people who have been preparing for this since Y2K).  They end up being about as friendly to you as the KPA are.  While sneaking through their camp, you see them torturing and toying with a captive KPA soldier.  The resistance fires white phosphorus rounds into Korean soldiers, leading to you running through the burning, writhing, still quite alive bodies.  This situation is complicated by dual achievements, one for putting them out of their misery, or another for letting them burn. 

That is not to say that everyone around you enjoys killing.  Rianna, after silently killing a KPA soldier says, “It never gets any easier.”  This stuck out to me for quite a while after playing through the first time.

Everywhere you turn, you are reminded that the country you are in is your home, and you can almost see glimpses of what used to be.  A teddy bear in a tree-stand, crayon-drawn pictures in houses, a small sanctum of peace where the resistance operates at times, all of these tug at your heart.  Homefront makes sure to remind you that you are not fighting in some other country for a political reason, but rather you are fighting to protect and free your home.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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