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Homefront brings the reality of war to our doorstep

Back to the demo, and we see Korean soldiers wandering through the parking lot. Then a van screeches in and smashes into a vehicle near the middle of the area and bursts into flames. The troops rush to investigate, which is when all hell breaks loose. Massive flares of white phosphorus burst into the air and rain onto the troops, burning them alive as our buddy Connor charges in with a bunch of resistance soldiers to finish off the Koreans.

Our role is sniper support, and we pick off the guard-tower grunts with ease. Everything seems to be going to plan. Then a scream over the radio. There’s a second salvo of phosphorus incoming, a misfire – the result of US guerrillas having to use homebrew kit and aging tech. It starts raining down into the parking lot and burning friendlies. A brilliant white comet smashes into the roof, sending our pair into the mayhem.

On the ground our character scoops up a dropped rifle and Rianna tells him to finish off the soldiers who are still rolling around on the floor screaming. American? Korean? We can’t tell, but the dev demoing the game makes a meal of finishing them off. He then wades through a gap in the fire to try and find Connor. The heat shimmer and sparks floating around look and sound incredible, as does the car that explodes as our man approaches it.

Picking himself up again, he rendezvous with the survivors who have holed up in a guard tower. Rianna is arguing with another man. She wants to abort the mission - her friend disagrees. It’s a smart moment – one where you feel like you’re the underdogs, the makeshift military without a perfect plan.

Their argument is cut short as Korean reinforcements show up and blast the tower. Again, our heroes are on the floor and the Koreans are closing in. Suddenly a car-sized drone rolls in and crushes a nearby enemy. It’s the Goliath, an unmanned, six-wheeled tank used as fire support by the future US military. And it’s controlled via a simple scope attached to our rifle. Point it at a bunch of enemies and it unleashes a salvo of rockets that wipe them out with meaty thuds.

The rest of the level is panicked siege warfare as the remaining guerrillas see off the Korean reinforcements. Shooting looks solid, although not quite as polished as Modern Warfare, but the smart interaction between weapons gives it a varied feel. EMP rockets, for example, disable the Goliath, so you need to pick off the EMP snipers while fighting off the main force. Given the gadgets we’ve seen so far, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see more advanced weaponry featured in the final game.

The demo ends as a helicopter arrives, gets shot down by the Goliath and careens toward the player, using Homefront’s Drama Engine (which ensures big set-pieces will always happen slap-bang in front of you, so you always feel like you’re in the center of the action). And yes, that leaves us wanting more.

We’re convinced that the gun-play is excellent, and we know Homefront is solid visually. But what will set it apart from other modern shooters is the way it makes players feel about being a survivor in occupied America. It’s the humanity – not the mayhem – that will make or break Homefront.

Jul 5, 2010

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9 comments

  • CH3BURASHKA - July 6, 2010 5:06 a.m.

    I have little doubt this game will be anything but awesome, but it irks me that I've been seeing ads and commercials for the game ever since E3, but no footage, no gameplay. Suspicious... I love fleshed out universes, and from what Andrew Hartup says, Homefront definitely resides in one. However, I hope to God they take advantage of said universe by referencing past events or whatnot instead of dealing with the here and now. For example, Killzone's universe is surprisingly fascinating, but the player never knows that unless he/she visits Guerrilla's website, a fringe group no doubt.
  • Cwf2008 - July 6, 2010 4:40 a.m.

    @wud03: Probably because its the north koreans being portrayed as the bad guys isnt it? I think a better question would be is this game gonna be released in North Korea? After all the place is isolated, no internet, they probably dont know wtf an xbox even is. It'd be funny if they did
  • RebornKusabi - July 5, 2010 9:09 p.m.

    Huh... this article actually managed to make a seemingly xenophobic premise not only seem nightmarishly plausible but also worthy of play. Maybe I'm going insane though; must be that since I FINALLY got System Shock 2 working after 5 years of ****ing trying -_-'
  • Doctalen - July 5, 2010 7:20 p.m.

    Looks good, anyone know if a demo is available on Xbox Live/PSN or is the only demo available for the review magazines and sites?
  • wud03 - July 5, 2010 6:56 p.m.

    Only thing going through my head was Freedom Fighters 2.0. I wonder if this game will be released in Korea.
  • r3ap3r - July 5, 2010 6:27 p.m.

    it reminds a lot of freedom fighters definitely lookin forward to playing this.
  • skynetiscoming - July 5, 2010 6:12 p.m.

    I thought the best parts of MW2 were the missions on American soil because of the awesome atmosphere and feeling of hopelessness. Hopefully this takes it to a whole new level. Looks really promising.
  • diddly - July 5, 2010 5:15 p.m.

    This game looks and sounds fantastic, and I will surely enjoy it as long as it doesn't turn into another "turning points", but one question, does any character ever gun down some enemies and yell "WOLVERINES!!!"?
  • ObliqueZombie - July 5, 2010 5:11 p.m.

    Good read! I'm really stoked about this game, even though not much has been released in the way of gameplay videos. Just the backstory makes the game sound interesting. Can't wait for this game to release, and here's to hoping it doesn't blow. p.s.: When're you guys gonna review Singularity. The game really does rock.

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