Homefront brings the reality of war to our doorstep

Half-Life meets Red Dawn in near-future America

Surely, it can only be a good thing when a game demo leaves you wanting more. We’re sitting in a private theater in New York, having just seen two new levels of Homefront – the game that sees you fighting in a nightmarish future world where a unified Korea has invaded and occupied the US – and what the developer has just shown us was good. Damn good. But there are so many aspects of the game yet to be revealed: features that could potentially turn this striking FPS from being ‘potentially amazing’ to just plain ‘amazing’.

It’s obvious that both time and effort have been lavished on gameplay and concept. Most shooters sit you down and ask you to blast away “er, just because, dude!” Not Homefront. This game has an in-depth timeline that runs from present day to 2027, detailing the events that lead to Korea becoming an aggressive super-power and invading a weakened United States. It’s been modeled by a man who used to work for the CIA, and large parts of it are eerily plausible. When we sit down and chat with the devs later on, one even jokes that Kim Jong-Il, current dictator of North Korea, is doing Homefront’s PR…

Theoretical (terrifying) history aside, the game is shaping up incredibly well, even in this post-Modern Warfare 2/Battlefield BC2 world where story-based shooter standards are astronomically high. Firstly, the devs showed our hero waking up in a ramshackle American guerrilla town called Oasis. As he wanders around being talked at by the various inhabitants (it looks like Homefront’s lead is mute, like Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2) we see people going about their business.

Children nap in front of a fire, a man makes stew in a makeshift kitchen, and tomatoes grow in a hastily erected greenhouse. It’s a peaceful scene, but there’s a definite sense of menace. A camo net hangs over the camp and men clutching modified rifles mill about looking on-edge. This is an example of ‘the familiar becomes alien’, design philosophies, and a prelude to the action storm.

After that the scene shifts ahead. This time our man opens his eyes to see a young woman in guerrilla combat gear strangling the life out of a Korean soldier. He stops twitching, and she makes a comment about it ‘never getting any easier’. It’s a less subtle nod to Homefront’s human approach to war – appropriate considering the rest of the level is a more Hollywood-style firefight.

Killing the guard was necessary, and our man finds himself on the roof of a building with his female squad mate, Rianna, overlooking what used to be the parking lot of a Lumber Liquidators store – an actual retail chain. The devs stress that, to make everything as plausible as possible, they’ve sourced real-world brands to feature in Homefront. Hooters has even signed up too…

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