Homefront has something of a troubled past; from well-documented development woes to a sorely inept open Beta test, it has seen its share of ups and downs. I was amongst the few critics that seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the original Homefront released last generation. It was tough, unforgiving, and followed a line of thought that I think has touched nearly every American at some point; "What would happen if we were invaded?" One of my favorite movies growing up was Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen's "Red Dawn" and Homefront had a storyline VERY similar to it.
Sure, the campaign was brutal, short, and if you did not take the time to read the various newspaper clippings found throughout the game as collectibles, then the story seemed to take weird jumps or twists. Homefront: The Revolution tries to rewrite some of that history and in some ways, succeeds, other ways, fails. Despite its troubled history, there is the workings of a solid game at the core of Homefront: The Revolution; you just need to sift through a handful of problems to find it.
It is not often that someone tries to redefine, or change, the FPS genre as it is a fairly straightforward experience. Homefront: The Revolution does not try to completely change or redefine, but rather incorporate open world gameplay features found in games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Grand Theft Auto V, weapon customization that is a near copy of that found in the Crysis series (which is perfect IMO, and it has been made better here) with brutal FPS combat found in games like the original Homefront or Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Taking inspiration from other games is a perfectly acceptable method to developing a game, however bringing very little that is original to the table is a big mistake that many games make, and it is one that Homefront: The Revolution certainly makes.
Throughout the 8-10 hours' worth of a campaign (that is deceptively fun), Homefront struggles with its identity. Open world games let you move at your own pace, yet Homefront works hard to push you along the story; it's VERY easy to blow past a lot of the more interesting side quests as the game does not give you the moment to breath and take in your surroundings. The pacing is further disrupted by the abysmal "stealth" mechanics in the game. Early on you can work to blend into the subdued populace, which makes for some interesting events, but all too quickly the game strips away the perceived anonymity and says "well, you are too popular so you can't blend anymore, so it's up to you to just destroy everything without being seen." Had they not removed your anonymity so soon, there could have been far more to the whole "hit-and-run" guerilla-style combat that they were claiming you could do.
The actual gunplay is great; firearms are clunky at best, which fits in perfectly for the world that Homefront is set into. Weapons are makeshift and deeply customizable. I am an avid shooter, a loving and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Of America; I love me some good ol' boom-sticks so when I see weapon take-downs that are realistic a small part of me just giggles with glee. Customizing firearms in Homefront is one of, if not the most, enjoyable things I have seen in a first person shooter in years, if not a decade or more. The takedown action, reloading, or remodding actions are gorgeously animated and I would find myself just staring as I, on-the-fly, converted my pistol to an SMG and back again; it was mesmerizing.
There are a few other moments that are like that, especially when you grab some other recruitable Resistance fighters and make your way to a strike point or stronghold. Though the recruits tend to die quickly, they do act as decoys but do not last all that long; a shame too, because it is really something to watch as your four recruits run up in the dead of night and work to flank the enemies. Truthfully it would be nice to have the recruits along in all aspects of the game, but the pitiable "stealth" sections are horrible, and the biggest benefit of the recruits is to draw fire. This is especially important when APCs are in the area, since their view and threat distances are ... farther than the Xbox One's draw distance. This is especially irksome during the "stealth" sections (where you wander around in populated areas trying to sabotage the KPA) since an APC will see you before you even see it (thus exponentially increasing the difficulty of the mission).
Even through a hell-hole ridden development cycle, and not without its serious technical faults (seriously, 20-30 seconds to close out of shops, looting bodies is a joke, horrible draw distances), Homefront: The Revolution is actually fun. It tries to add an open-world concept to a typically on-rails experience and for the most part, succeeds. There has been mention, a few times, that the developers are working towards a patch so improve framerates and various technical issues, but at the pace they are moving things, it may be too late to save this diamond-in-the-rough.
Article by Robert