Homefront: The Revolution or A Broken American Dream

First of all, kudos to Eurogamer’s Homefront: The Revolution review subtitle “It’s always gunny in Philadelphia”. The perfect headline … although Paddy’s Pub hasn’t been found yet in this war-torn version of Philadelphia, which sounds like a strange omission.

So, Homefront 2 – well, it’s not the offical title per se, but whatever, so yes, the story is flatter than then Netherlands and the setpieces are just there – then again, after being spoilt by Uncharted 4, hardly any setpiece might be enjoyable. You have an invasion, the good American lads fight back the alien invaders, standard stuff. Here, the “Norks” (check what norks means in Australian English to have a laugh) are pretty much like portrayed like the nazis – mass-murdering, camp-building villains hidden behind full-face helmets so you actually never see their face. The heroes however, they’re all assholes, too – psychopaths, hypocrites, college bros, stereotypes.

Half in the story … fuck, there is hardly any story, so the trailers just set up expectations until you realise a 3 minute trailer has more story than the entire game! And then, the black and white portrayal worked perfectly fine in the last Wolfenstein, but sadly, The Revolution fails to either attach you to the heroes or to exaggerate the villains, and there is hardly any humour as well. There are some pretty violent scenes and atrocities to be discovered, but since you hardly build a connection to anything or anyone it’s just like “meh, let me keep playing”.

Enough philosophy … your question probably is rather how bad Homefront: The Revolution actually is, right? Technically, it is shit-awful! Framerate crashes, a 5 to 10 second freeze during each and every auto-save (at times you get shot during saves so the game seems to be only freezing for you), falling through the floor of the world (and failing missions that way), incorrect hitboxes not recognising headshots, side-missions not registering you doing stuff you’re told to do, and good luck trying to win the lottery of getting hold of an edge after jumping (and during the campaign, you have to jump and grab edges a few times). And that’s just the campaign of Homefront 2 – the co-op multiplayer is utterly broken (crashes, freezes, connection failures, lags, name it)!

Technical failures aside, the gameplay is quite repetitive, and the missions are more of the same; take out this, take over that, defend this, find out that expected plot twist. Taking over territory feels a bit like the Far Cry games; if you liked that aspect there, you’ll like it here as well – it varies between taking them over by force, by side missions and by a bit of platforming. But juggling between yellow and red zones can keep you entertained for quite a while. The red zones in Homefront: The Revolution are all about open warfare and regular fire fights in ruins, and you can get hunted down by massive enemy zeppelins. You can traverse these areas quicker with a motorbike, which must also be used to find ways to take over a few Strikepoints (just a fancy word for different kinds of outposts). These zones play like most shooters, and here you can also recruit up to 4 AI comrades for bigger firefights.

The yellow zones in Homefront 2 are more interesting – at first: You get spotted instantly (even if you turn your back to enemy soldiers, they can identify your ass it seems) and need to run for cover then because you can hardly fight off the hordes of Norks hunting you down. By taking over territory (same as in red zones), assassinating or blowing up targets (pretty damn cool) or helping civilians (rather boring) you start conquering the hearts of the population until they start an uprising – from that point, the enemies magically disappear from most areas. Narrative dissonances aside, by that point the yellow zones are boring, so there’s only fun to be had there for a limited time which is a shame because playing cat and mouse with the Norks, frantically trying to find a hiding space and then striking again is very fun.

The shooting in Homefront: The Revolution is wonky and feels very unpolished, even when compared to Uncharted 4. And yet, there is the underlying feeling that the game has some good potential, raising the question if there is still a place in today’s gaming universe for games such as Mercenaries, The Saboteur or Dead Island, just to name a few not quite AAA productions which still brought hours upon hours of fun after fighting through questionable technical issues and unusual or unintuitive gameplay decisions. In the past, we could have fun with these games

But what about Homefront 2? Well, 40 quid seems expensive for not finished game, so unless you’re a fan of guerilla warfare, better wait until the bugs are fixed. Once they are fixed, you get an almost AAA game … but released between Uncharted 4 and Overwatch, and thanks to the justified bad press because of the unfinished state of the game, well, not many people will buy the game now, that’s for sure. But if you’re a fan of open-worldish shooters, or if you like guerilla tactics, you should have Homefront on your watch list for gaming droughts. Yes, modifying your weapon on the spot can make for interesting choices in tight situations, the hit and run guerilla warfare can be fun – and let’s face it, any game where you can drive a RC car full of explosives can’t be that bad!

Rabidgames sighs: There’s a wrong time and a wrong place for games at times, and Homefront 2 was released at the wrong time in two regards: First, it’s not finished, that’s clear. Second, such a game cannot expect to beat any big guns, and that timing was awful. But at least the place is right – Philadelphia might not be that sunny here, but the ingredients are there. And when/if the time comes for the game to run fine, it might well deserve another chance. For the time being though, the sad truth is Homefron: The Revolution simply isn’t up to today’s standards, which means this revolution failed in its cradle. 



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