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Homefront The Revolution

FBT is after some payback. If he pays up first

I really enjoyed the original Homefront, it was bombastic and brutal in equal measure, Red Dawn in digital form. But I was in the minority; Homefront tanked, dismissed as a CoD clone. Like the Wolverines though, Homefront wouldn’t go down without a fight. It’s publisher, THQ went bankrupt and the Homefront IP was sold to Crytek, who sold it to Deep Silver, whose parent company, Koch Media was sold to Nordic Games who rebranded as … THQ. And they commissioned a sequel. Boys! Avenge me. Avenge me!

This time around, we’re in an open-world shooter rather than the original’s strict linear experience. Rebooting the story, North Korea is basically Apple, and the US has become entirely reliant on its goods and software. When the US declares itself bankrupt, NK shuts down all it's electrical goods – which the military also relied on, rendering the US powerless. Under the banner of humanitarian efforts, NK invades, dismantling the US government and forcing everyone into slave labour and internment camps as they strip-mine the country to pay back the debt.

Four years later and a small rebellion has grown in Philadelphia, where people are either indentured or collaborators. We’re silent hero Brady, who’s joined a resistance cell under the command of Parrish and his ex-criminal sidekick, Moore. Brady must disrupt the NK Army (the KPA) and provoke an uprising so the resistance can rescue Walker, the leader of the rebellion who was captured after Brady led the KPA to the cell’s hideout. Sorry about that.

H:TR is incredibly derivative of every other open world game you’ve ever played - it’s Fallout 3 meets Half-Life 2, with side-objectives that lessen the KPA’s grip like in Far Cry 3, random attacks like GTA SA’s ‘Hood is under attack!’ and stealthy scrambling over buildings like Assassin’s Creed. But it’s pulled together in an effective, solid way. The place reeks of destruction and oppression; at night it’s grim and dangerous, while in the day you’re constantly at risk of being spotted. It’s really immersive and convincing. At least at first.

Philly is split into several zones, each a slightly different take on occupation. We start in a bombed-out industrial ruin before moving into slums and then a more advanced area where the KPA and collaborators reside. The main problem with H:TR is each area you unlock has the same requirements – take out strongholds or communication posts, accumulate collectables, do little disruption jobs, save other rebellion troops or random locals from harassment.

They are fun to do, sneaking about being all guerrilla one second then running for your life the next, and a few of the side-missions are incredibly clever, but it comes across as a lot more repetitive than most Open-Worlders because the free-form stuff has no real effect; they increase the ‘hearts and minds’ meter - get it high enough and the locals will rebel - but it’s just window-dressing, it doesn’t actually affect Brady other than award you coins that unlock upgrades – you’ll get them all within two regions anyway so H&M missions become redundant, except you have to do them to trigger the main missions. You rinse an area, then it’s story time and the next area is unlocked, where you do it all again, and the new environment doesn’t require you to change your gameplay enough to feel progressive or like you’re making a difference.

Another problem is the story isn’t that compelling. Rescuing Walker as a rebellion figurehead is all very well and good, but it’s not very involving, even if we did cause his capture. For the most part we’re collecting items so we can commandeer a Goliath, the AI-controlled tanks that roam, and the only way to survive a straight out fight with the KPA. The Goliath we partnered with in the original was a tough, scary, D0g-like character, but here the thing lasts as long as an iPhone. Half the time it’s us protecting it from attacks not the other way around.