THQ brings the fight to your doorstep in Homefront...
Posted | 0 comments | By Joe Robinson
According to THQ and Kaos Studios (known for Frontlines: Fuel of War), home is where the war is. Not my home mind - in an attempt to bring the audience something different, and possibly challenging, the developer has had the near-future Greater Korean Republic invade the US. As a (sometimes) patriotic Brit, I actually take some perverse pleasure in watching America get humbled properly for once in the entertainment industry. Wait, what's that? They're planning to do a sequel in London? Well F***.
The new face of oppression
Well, it would be interesting how they pass that one off in the fiction, but focusing back on Homefront itself, the background for this game sounds pretty plausible. A unified Korea starts taking names all across the Western Pacific, eventually humbling Japan and forming an empire. Back in the 1940's, after the Japanese struck Pearl Harbour, there was a real chance that they would invade the US, and in Homefront, an unfortunate series of disasters offered up a similar opportunity, which the GKR took advantage off. Sitting in the presentation booth at this year's GamesCom, Executive Producer Frank Delise wanted to hit home the point that this isn't going to be a thrills-per-minute shooter like Call of Duty, but a hard look at the not-so-fun side of warfare - Guerrilla warfare.
There wasn't much new to see at this year's GamesCom - although the demonstration was shown on the PC SKU, which Delise is the Producer on. Where other publishers have been quietly neglecting the PC platform, THQ have been raising the banner high. Homefront's PC version is actually being developed by a third party - Digital Extremes, who've been involved with everything from Bioshock to Unreal Tournament, and who as we've already heard plan to bring in dedicated PC-specific features. Always nice to see.
From what we've seen so far, Homefront is a mixture of story elements and action set-pieces, which in itself is nothing new, but the story elements themselves go one step further. With the writers of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn behind the storyboard, you know you're in for something special anyway. "The game is about the fiction," Delise said to us as he strolled through a guerrilla encampment, and we expect this to be a very linear, but very dramatic experience. It can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to dealing with sensitive issues such as occupation, victory-at-all costs, terror tactics etc... you can either do it well, or you can wuss-out and not really handle it well at all. And no matter which one you choose, there's always the chance that you'll be hated for it.
Life in a secret camp
Gameplay-wise, we haven't seen much, but the action sequences seem to be very intense, but also very scripted. Even though you get a similar atmosphere to Call of Duty or any other high-action shooter, things are more directed. Homefront also has a coded in element that Kaos has described as 'magnetism' where basically, trouble finds you. If a helicopter gets shot down, it's going to crash near you, if there's a misfire on some napalm, it's going to misfire near you, and so on... it gives truth to the phrase 'trouble-magnet' and it'll be interesting to see how it shapes gameplay. The story and character elements are a real contrast however, very slow, very dialogue driven, and there's not much for the player to do. We'd have to see more of these segments to properly gauge whether or not they work, or just become dull, but at least it keeps true with the "game is the fiction" ideal.
The only thing we worry about is that, despite trying to be different and have the Americans as the losers for once, that the story is still going to be a tad one-sided. Delise mention how there was a lot of consultation with various branches of the U.S. Government, including the military, as well as Ex-Korean nationals living in America. When pressed further on the issue though, he revealed that there had been no consultation with the North Korean (or South Korean) Government itself, or anyone still living in the country.
Freedom comes at a price
Homefront has already said it's not going to try and take on Call of Duty, which is big of them, and we think there'll be enough here to make it stand out. Being a story-driven experience, the real test will be to see how well it ultimately performs, which we won't get to see until the review builds come out. The only other thing left is what the multiplayer mode will entail, which is being kept under wraps at the moment. It will have to be something special though if it's not going to be overshadowed by the current front-runners. Homefront is due out February 2011 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Most Anticipated Feature:With no news on Multiplayer, and given the nature of the game itself, the only thing that there's really to look forward to is the story. I always did like a good story.