Homefront: The Revolution – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Homefront: The Revolution is a tough game to write about. In fact, it is probably one of the hardest games I have ever had to review. Not because it is great, it isn’t. Not because it is terrible, it isn’t. No this is a game that reeks of squandered potential and development troubles, a game that was handicapped from the get go. This is a game that wears scars of boardroom fighting and studio closures proudly and still somehow manages to show the tantalizing “what could have been.” Homefront: The Revolution has many problems but despite that I found myself enjoying a lot of what was on offer. It is a game that had me wondering “if only” more than just about any title I can recall.
Homefront: The Revolution is a sequel to Homefront, a poorly received Call of Duty knockoff that got by on its interesting premise. That premise was that North Korea had invaded the USA and thanks to a technological superiority they captured the entire country in short order. That storyline is continued in Homefront: The Revolution and unlike the first game, it actually succeeded in making me feel like I was a part of a resistance movement. I always felt like an underdog coming up against a far superior force, forcing me to rely on hit and run tactics, stealthy approaches and creative use of the environment. The story is a pretty by the numbers affair but thanks to the environmental storytelling that was going on all around me I found myself invested in the plight of these guerrilla fighters and their quest to reclaim their country.
Gameplay is broken up into two different styles of open areas. The first of these areas, called red zones, are ruined areas of post-war destruction. Crumbled buildings and ruined infrastructure make up the bulk of the scenery. In these areas gameplay consists of completing various objectives that liberate areas of the map. These including sabotaging a Korean fuel dump or hacking into Korean communications. Most of these activities are standard fare for open world shooters but the tight gunplay and overwhelming odds meant that I found myself enjoying capturing each and every strategic location. The second type of area, The yellow zone, is a much different beast. Here the American public are living in squalor, overseen by their Korean oppressors. Civilians are being harassed constantly and it isn’t safe to carry a weapon in the open. In these areas, I was also tasked with liberating North Korean facilities but at the same time I had to rally the public to the point of open rebellion. I did this by gaining support thanks to releasing prisoners, stopping soldiers harassing the public and destroying Korean propaganda. Once I had received enough support I could incite the public into open defiance, thus allowing me to take down key command points. These areas were a refreshing change of pace that forced quite the change in tactics, making them a welcome and unexpected addition to the game.
This unfortunately is where the troubles start. I want to clarify that I played the game on a fairly high-end PC. Apparently the console versions are a hot mess of frame rate drops, hard crashes and texture pop in. Thankfully I didn’t encounter any of that on the PC, in fact the only graphical problems I encountered was some slight pop in when a level initially loaded. There are plenty of other rough edges however that take away from the game in a significant manner. Enemy AI, especially their pathfinding, is quite often so bad it is comical. Enemies get stuck on scenery with alarming regularity bringing me out of the intense combat in the processes. Janky animation also rears its head on many occasions with many of the characters resembling some form of monster from a 1970’s Doctor Who episode. Finally, the writing in general is well below par with interactions between soldiers and resistance members seeming forced and clichéd at best and downright appalling at worst. Unfortunately, all of these little niggles give the game an unfinished feeling. It comes across as a game that is 2-3 patches short of complete.
Multiplayer is also a bit of a mixed bag. I love the emphasis on co-op play, with teams focused on achieving various goals throughout the map. I also love the character creation and progression in multiplayer. I got to choose my look and backstory which then had an effect on certain stats in game. There are three hefty skill trees to unlock and a generous amount of weapons and mods to be purchased with in-game currency. The biggest issue here is that there is simply no one playing the game and unless you have 3 friends you can team up with I can’t see you getting many games. The missions are also designed to be played with four people and feature no enemy scaling so if you are playing with less than a full contingent of troops the game becomes super difficult.
Homefront: The Revolution is an unfortunate mix of solid gameplay and unfinished ideas. The gunplay is satisfying and the core experience is highly entertaining when it is at its best. The problem being that is just too rare of an occurrence. Bugs, glitches and a general slap-dash nature permeate the game souring what should have been an exciting shooter. That the well-documented troubled development of the game had a massive effect on the final product is easy to see and it leads me to think that if this same team gets a second chance in a stable development environment they are capable producing something special. As it is however Homefront: The Revolution just has too many problems to recommend at full price. A few patches and a Steam Sale later it might be worth a buy but for now I must sadly say avoid.
*You can check out Matt’s Twitch stream of Homefront: The Revolution below.