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Homefront: The Revolution

Score: 55%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Deep Silver Dambuster Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Hours of playing Homefront: The Revolution have led me to one conclusion: the game is simply unfinished. Releases like these upset me for many reasons, but the foremost one is that the makings of a genuinely good game are readily apparent. The concept, while preposterous, works for this medium. Structurally, it resembles a very specific subgenre that is almost exclusively populated with games that range from good to excellent. Finally, it runs on the legendary CryEngine, known for bringing unmatched production values to every game associated with it. But none of this matters much if the game is this riddled with technical problems. Its ambition is respectable and the potential is most certainly there, but for some reason, it was put on shelves well before its time.

CryEngine is often cited as the high watermark for visuals in video games. It's almost an unspoken universal truth at this point; if a game runs on CryEngine, it's going to be a technical marvel. Homefront: The Revolution is thus far the most credible challenge to that reputation, but not for the reasons you might think. When it comes to world design, animations, and texture details, The Revolution does its engine proud. Characters look and move like real human beings in that special CryEngine way, with special mention going to the lip syncing, which somehow find a way to escape that uncanny valley characteristic most realistic games struggle to free themselves of. Not so forgivable are the frequent framerate issues and the numerous technical problems that directly impact the gameplay. More on that later.

Homefront: The Revolution's technical problems occasionally extend themselves past the visuals to the sound design; I ran into instances in which spoken dialogue was interrupted by the soundtrack -- and vice versa. That being said, the actual sound design is mostly solid. The voice acting is an excellent match for the script, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because it doesn't come across as corny, but it's a bad thing because it doesn't go very far in making the characters relatable or even sympathetic. An early encounter with the resistance's resident sadist made my skin crawl, and that's thanks in no small part to the effectiveness of the voice acting. The action sounds good, at least. Guns pack a punch, explosions are deep and resonant, and the battlefield chatter is appropriately hectic. Finally, the soundtrack is alternately (and appropriately) dour and bombastic. It's a mad, mad world, and the music sells that well enough.


Homefront: The Revolution at least boasts an inspired setting. If you can pretend that North Korea somehow became a military and economic global superpower, you might be able to buy into the game's hysterically outlandish vision of a besieged United States. A reimagining of the original, this story purports to illustrate the dangers of becoming overdependent on foreign technology and trusting every hand that resembles a helping one. But most of its themes fall flat, and its story doesn't really go anywhere interesting.

You are Ethan Brady, a mute player character who has found himself roped into the anti-KPA organization based in the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia's resistance constitutes a ragtag bunch of fighters who attempt to incite rebellion and ultimately wrest control from their KPA occupiers. The Revolution would have an intriguing (albeit derivative) narrative if it featured any sympathetic, interesting characters. Alas, the entire cast is despicable; they leave horrific first impressions that never, ever wash out. If they weren't literally trying to reassert their nation's independence, they'd be rightfully getting their asses kicked in the scuzziest dive bars in Philly.

Veterans of the original Homefront may need an adjustment period; The Revolution is not the linear cinematic experience that its predecessor was. Instead, it opts for an open world populated with the ambient gameplay events we've come to expect from games like Far Cry. It's an excellent fit, and when it works, it really works. It succeeds at capturing the David and Goliath dynamic that exists between the downtrodden but persistent resistance fighters and the technologically advanced, disciplined Norks. That is, when the artificial intelligence doesn't undermine it.

When things ramp up, Homefront: The Revolution's performance tops out at passable and shames itself at its worst. Each and every time the game autosaves, it locks up completely for several seconds. You'll frequently have to remind yourself that the game isn't crashing.

Homefront: The Revolution's best content is reserved for the single player component. Its cooperative mode, Resistance, is competent, but only just. Judging by the mindless objectives, this mode feels as if it was thrown in only to ensure that a box was checked off. It's neat to have some character customization thrown into the mix, but it's in service to an experience that isn't really worth the effort.


Judging Homefront: The Revolution's difficulty is kind of challenging in and of itself, because it can't be discussed without addressing the patently awful artificial intelligence at work. Where similar games such as Far Cry 4 clearly establish their mechanics for stealth and gunplay, Homefront: The Revolution doesn't really bother. So while trekking through a Yellow Zone, you might consider yourself virtually hidden -- only to be miraculously spotted by an individual that you never even registered, much less considered as a threat.

That's only scratching the surface; The Revolution's artificial intelligence is so unpredictable, it's almost funny. You'll occasionally encounter smart enemies who use cover and coordinate efficient flanking maneuvers. Other times, you'll find yourself shooting fish in a barrel, as many of them stand out in the open or run blindly at your position. It stands in incredible contrast with the level of organization the story insists they supposedly boast.

Game Mechanics:

Homefront: The Revolution is, in many ways, your garden variety open world shooter. From mobility to gunplay, there are plenty of ways to get around town and bring the pain to the KPA. Movement is functional and appropriately weighty, and the gunplay captures the carnage of battle from the perspective of the underdog. This is most apparent in the weapon design, which takes a page from other post-apocalypse shooters. Guns and their improvised attachments have a delightfully homemade look and feel to them, and go a long way in establishing the game world.

Philadelphia is split into three districts, each with their own smattering of ambient events and their own KPA presence. The Green Zone is where the KPA's help has been most eagerly accepted; it is ostensibly the safest for civilians, as the invaders have set up shop with precision and made it a place where people can live their lives shielded from the bloodshed and chaos that lie outside. However, it's also the most impregnable of the Zones, as it's the KPA's turf. The Yellow Zone is the most civilian-heavy, and since the war is at least partly being fought for hearts and minds, it feels like a ticking time bomb. As a result, the Yellow Zone is always full of enemies on patrol, and you must utilize stealth to stay safe; starting firefights here is rarely a smart idea. Finally, you have the Red Zone, whose color connotation is certainly warranted. This part of Philadelphia is a hellhole of rubble, ash, and death. Here, the KPA shoot on sight and don't really bother asking questions. It's scorched earth from border to border.

If Homefront: The Revolution receives the patches and updates it so desperately needs, it should become a worthwhile experience. However, in its current state, it's impossible to recommend. Nobody likes wondering what could have been, and this game might just be the newest poster child for that.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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