Go away 2010. You were rubbish. It’s now all about 2011, and the games we can’t wait to play. That’s why throughout the first couple of weeks of January I’m going to be going through some of the games I’m most looking forward to in the coming year. On this fine morn we’re taking a look at Homefront.
If Homefront turns out to be a case of hype over substance, then developers Kaos Studios only have themselves to blame. Name dropping the Half-Life franchise, calling out other shooters for ‘massacre fatigue’ – for a game that essentially uses the framework of the military shooter as its gameplay foundation, Homefront talks a big game. But if it lives up to its promise, it could be one of the biggest blockbuster shooters of 2011.
What we love about Homefront is that, unlike the dirge that makes up most of the shooter market, it actually has a proper point of difference. Several in fact.
The first is the story, written by John Milius of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn fame, which focuses on the (admittedly batshit insane) premise that North Korea has rapidly increased its reach and invaded the US. Yes, it’s silly, but said premise has allowed Kaos Studios to create a game universe that plays with our concepts of the familiar to dramatic effect. Homefront is a game that takes place in a bastardised, torn down, broken America – and the development team has used that premise to create an environment dripping in detail and alive with context.
From what we’ve seen so far, Kaos Studios has done a remarkable job of creating a believable setting in which every resource is pooled towards defeating an all powerful invader with everyday tools at hand. An early demo showed the American resistance creating electricity via an elaborate set of machines operated by a man using a Stairmaster. It’s clever stuff – and the kind of detail that makes Homefront’ unlikely premise feel real.
The setting also allows for a slightly different style of gameplay – one that depends on guerilla tactics and operations ran by a resistance team who are far from the mad, mega-bearded, military experts you’re used to embodying. These guys are rookies – regular citizens. It’s a refreshing change to be sure, but we’re yet to be fully convinced that said change will result in a game that feels fundamentally different from your Call of Dutys and your Medal of Honors.
At the end of the day, Homefront will sell – it’s backed by dollars and a team uber-confident in its clever doomsday scenario – but Homefront’s ability to match up to the early hype and bombast will no doubt be dependent on the game’s ability to transend its sub-genre and be as innovative and fresh as Kaos Studios hopes it will become.