Last week, we were given the first ever opportunity to sit down with Homefront, THQ’s upcoming ‘North Korea invades North America’ shooter that’s looking to set the shooting world alight when it launches in March.
But competing in a crowded genre with a new IP is never going to be an easy task, particularly when it’s competing in the same space as the world’s biggest franchise, Call of Duty. But we think Homefront could actually be even better than Call of Duty, and here are five reasons why.
IT’S DISTURBINGLY CONVINCING
Okay, so the story might be fictional, but with the Koreans blowing chunks out of each other in real life and tension mounting between the superpowers of the Eastern and Western worlds, you’ve got to admit, it isn’t too farfetched that something like this *could* happen. And if it were to happen, we’d picture it happening exactly how Kaos has portrayed it in Homefront. The KPA make their presence felt by lining the streets with their tanks and helicopters, civilians are taken as prisoners of war, while the rebels are lined up on the streets and shot in front of their loved ones. The atmosphere is one of fear and anger, as those determined not to see their country fall use whatever means necessary to try and overthrow their invaders.
This is a suburban America under attack – and it feels like it. There are real franchises, real people (Kim Jong Un is referenced in an early piece of dialogue), realistic-behaving civilians and very believable scenarios. It’s not unnecessarily gratuitous, but it does feel like a fairly accurate and incredibly harrowing depiction of modern western warfare. Ignore the cold, empty suburban streets of Modern Warfare 2′s Russian invasion; this is probably what it would be like if America were to be invaded by another superpower.
IT’LL PROVOKE AN EMOTIONAL REACTION
We don’t necessarily mean you’ll be in tears while playing Homefront, and we’re also aware that something similar’s been said about countless other games before it, only for them to turn out to be as emotionally significant as The Cheeky Girls’ last album. But Homefront had us feeling a mixture of anger, sorrow and desperation within the very first few minutes. How do you react to hearing nothing but sobs and a gunshot before seeing a helpless man’s brains blown against the side of the vehicle you’re travelling in, or watching a child break down in hysteria as he – and you – witness his parents being executed in front of him? We should have seen it coming – the THQ representative told us to be prepared to see some ‘shocking’ content – but we didn’t expect it to hit us as hard as it did.
IT’S SURPRISINGLY SOLID
Considering Kaos Studios’ heritage (which consists only of 2008′s middle-of-the-road Frontlines: Fuel of War) we’re as surprised as you are by how good Homefront actually is. Homefront, even months before release, feels polished, is visually astounding and plays like a genuinely fantastic shooter. Shooting mechanics are brilliant, the guns feel meaty and accurate, the controls are perfectly implemented, the dialogue seems good and the environments and setpieces – from what we’ve seen at this stage at least – are incredibly gripping and entertaining. From overthrowing a group of KPA using the fuselage of a downed airliner as a base of operations, to using a laser-targeted ground vehicle to destroy enemy tanks tearing up the city streets, Homefront’s action packed setpieces seem on a par with the very best of Call of Duty’s.
THE MULTIPLAYER’S GENUINELY INNOVATIVE
So many shooters follow the same identikit structure of plonking a dozen riflemen on the ground and telling them to have at each other. Some even throw a few vehicles in there too. And in that regard, Homefront’s no different. But there’s a completely different sense of pacing to Homefront that, while sharing similarities, makes it feel utterly different to other shooters out there. The battle points system adds a more tactical element to play than any other recent shooter, letting you spend points earned in battle to instantly buy better weapons, or save them to launch yourself directly into bigger and better things – like tanks and helicopters. But because you have to earn your points in each battle rather than have them carry over from previous bouts, it makes for a progressive change in focus and tactics in each and every game, keeping you constantly on your toes.
Homefront launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on March 11, 2011.
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