Homefront: The Revolution – Rooting for the Underdog
The games industry is one of constant hype. PR and Marketing teams do their best to have all of us constantly looking forward to the latest and greatest, the next big thing on the market. This, of course, can lead to disappointment and even fan backlash if the game fails to meet the expectations that the promo cycle has created. Occasionally, however, there are games that despite good PR campaigns gamers expect to fail. Whether it is due to a troubled development cycle, a studio with a poor reputation or just fatigue with the genre, some games are expected to be terrible by the general gaming masses. Why then do I find myself hoping for their success?
The most recent example of this is finding myself strangely invested in Homefront: The Revolution doing well. For those that don’t know, Homefront’s sequel has gone through hell to get to an actual release date. Originally a victim of the THQ collapse, the game was then bought by Crytek. Crytek then faced financial troubles of its own and closed their UK studio which was developing the title. Deep Silver then came to the rescue, buying the game and creating a new studio from the remnants of Crytek UK. This studio has then gone on to require two release date delays and a rather brutal closed beta that attracted criticism from gamers worldwide due to the prevalence of crippling technical issues. With all this history it is no wonder most people think the game is going to be a turkey, yet I find myself wanting to like this game despite all that. What makes it even more perplexing is that I really hated the original Homefront. It was the worst kind of Call of Duty rip off and even its interesting setting couldn’t hide the fact that the developers had stolen every trick they had from Activision’s behemoth franchise.
I find it hard to explain why I am so invested in this game’s success. I find myself already excusing its problems and I have only played the beta. I think it partly has to do with the genuine lack of surprises in modern gaming. Generally, we all have a good idea if a game is going to be successful and entertaining before its release. Previews, betas and wide press coverage for most triple A titles means that there are plenty of indications that the game is going to be great or it is going to be terrible. But with Homefront: The Revolution no one seems to be sure. There has been some cautiously hopeful previews, some scathing beta reports and every opinion in between but no one (except the developers presumably) have any idea if the final product is going to be amazing, entertaining or appalling. This unknown element allows my inner optimist to run rampant in hoping for a surprise that captures gamers everywhere, something that almost never happens in the AAA space anymore.
The other possible reason I want this game to succeed is simply because it isn’t expected to. Seriously who doesn’t love an “underdog comes good” story? Cinema is littered with underdog stories because they appeal to almost everyone. In this case, it could be an actual event as opposed to a slice of Hollywood entertainment. After all the problems, the closures, the changes of staff if this game came out and was a success…. Well, let’s just say I can feel those heart cockles warming just thinking about it. I am sure we can all agree that games take a lot of hard work to get to release and I think it would be fitting that a group of devs that has had to go through more than most receive some sort recognition at the end of their tumultuous journey.
Sadly though the problems faced by Homefront: The Revolution are more than likely going to result in an average game at best. In fact, the only game I can think of that has been through similar troubles and come out the other side as a great game is Sleeping Dogs and honestly I think that is the exception that proves the rule. The logical side of my brain is telling me to not get my hopes up, that the game is more than likely going to be terrible but despite that I can’t help but hold out hope that it all comes together upon release. I want my brain to be wrong and my heart to be right. I want to see the developers rewarded for all the crap they had to go through. Most of all I want to be surprised with a great game that nobody saw coming. Come on Dambuster and Deep Silver I am rooting for you.