2011 saw Homefront, a Red Dawn inspired FPS game published by THQ, released in March to mixed reviews. As it stands on Metacritic, Homefront sits with an average of 70/100; not bad, right? Fast forward to the end of 2012, and THQ is filing for bankruptcy, effectively liquidating its assets to the highest bidder. Publisher Deep Silver picked up the Homefront franchise, and decided to take a stab at creating Homefront: The Revolution. And with a heavy heart, I must ask: what happened?
From the game’s opening scene, where you and a few comrades are waiting for the hero of the American revolution against Korean aggression, Walker, you preview the struggles you’ll face from the game itself. Before I get into the technical issues, however, I suppose I’ll explain the premise of Homefront: The Revolution. The United States has been conquered by North Korea (thus tossing any realism out the window) and you take the role of a new member of the Philadelphia branch of the revolutionary forces. On your first mission, you’re ambushed by North Korean soldier and captured. Upon wakening, you watch your two comrades brutally murdered. Alas, you were saved by Walker himself, who is wounded and, eventually, kidnapped by the KMP. From Walker’s capture (you’re conveniently a building away when he’s taken), you re-join the revolutionary forces in a mission to rescue Walker and reclaim the city of Philadelphia in the name of America.
Having enjoyed the original Homefront, I was intrigued by the premise of an open world first person shooter with highly customizable weapon sets. Considering that my only real complaint from the first game was the tremendously short campaign, The Revolution was set to remedy that situation. In execution, however, Homefront: The Revolution completely fails in the most graceless manner(s).
So what exactly is the issue with Homefront: The Revolution? In short – everything. This game has zero redeeming qualities. I found myself struggling to play every minute of it; even when the game shattering frame rate was above 0, the game was a mess. The gunplay in The Revolution is some of the worst I have ever experienced: hit detection is way off, accuracy is the pits, storytelling is poor, and the dialogue is childish. Whenever I visited a gun depot, the framerate would drop to an astounding 0, completely halting the game (though, I suppose, I did replenish my ammunition). Now, this wouldn’t even necessarily be an issue (I can get over massive framerate dips when I’m out of combat), but the game consistently dipped its framerate to unplayable lows.
I almost would end my review here because the gameplay was hindered to an almost unplayable level due to the aforementioned issues. But let’s examine how enjoyable the game is when it works. Homefront: The Revolution plays much like any other open world adventure. You follow a main mission with the option to partake in side missions posted by various members of the revolution. You also are able to raise a rebellion in each district on the map by disrupting KMP lights and cameras, tuning radios to the revolution’s frequency, saving civilians from punishment, or taking out patrols, among other means. And while this sounds cool – and possibly unique – it’s nothing new to the genre, and certainly, at this point, seems like a gimmick. Still, if there was one piece of Homefront: The Revolution that worked – it was probably this aspect.
One other piece of Homefront: The Revolution also rustled the blades of grass around its headstone. Each weapon you purchase can be fully customizable. This means two separate things. The first is that each weapon has a plethora of attachment options with which to improve your arsenal. The second is a neat option that allows you to, more or less, dis- and re-assemble your weapon. In other words, you can take the top of your pistol off and replace it with the husk of an SMG. Each weapon has a couple alternative attachments that allows you to strategize your methods of slaying the KMP. Yet while this feature is certainly unique and fun to mess around with, it quickly becomes evident that the system is potential wasted, as there is only a limited amount of options that each weapon can utilize, and you can’t switch different weapon parts with different weapons.
When I look back at my pained time with Homefront: The Revolution, I can’t help but shudder. I feel dirty even suggesting this game wasted its own potential; I can’t be certain potential was lurking behind this shoddy façade to begin with. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever played a game as unpolished and trashy as Homefront: The Revolution. The worst part? I secretly enjoy many of the games published by Deep Silver. Unfortunately for Homefront and the gaming community, The Revolution is a pile of junk with few rivals to compare. Let’s all do each other a solid and forget this game released (at least until they patch out the significant issues).