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Homefront: violent, shocking, brutal... and that's just the first 10 minutes

So what would happen if - in the year 2027 - the United States of America had its ass handed to it by a unified and nuclear-armed Korea? Homefront, the new first-person shooter from Frontlines: Fuel of War developer, Kaos Studios, pulls no punches answering that very question in the game's properly shocking opening 10 minutes.

After being rounded-up by the none-too-friendly soldiers of the Korean People's Army and bundled on a bus with other captive suburbanites, a drive through a besieged American neighbourhood paints a pretty bleak picture.

There's fear. There's panic. There's brutality. There are cold-blooded executions. Terrified citizens are led away to their fates. Rows and rows of body bags litter the sidewalks like giant leeches. Dead ones. Sobbing parents are gunned down in front of their distraught children. A man on his knees has a plastic bag roughly shoved over his head and squirms desperately as the life is suffocated out of him.


Above: Not what you want to see when you wake up in the morning

Actually, bleak doesn't do it justice. What's going on is inhumane sickness. In comparison, it makes the backseat ride at the start of Call of Duty 4 seem like a quick poke in the Tunnel of Love. And, according to Kaos, the intro sets the tone for what we can expect throughout the game's single-player campaign.

In Homefront's future, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is being burglarised by the very hostile, very aggressive Korean People's Army. Such a scenario would not be resolved with tea and cake and a few hands of Canasta by the fire with Bing Crosby. So before players even join the ragtag resistance, the opening scenes make it absolutely clear that shit is going to get uglier than a pack of pit bulls bum-rushing a home for abandoned kittens.


Above: Bob quickly discovered that being invaded by the Koreans was a real drag

The level that follows the harsh intro is certainly relentless and comes with a few shock moments of its own. After being dramatically busted out of the bus, it's straight into the fray with your rescuers, grabbing weapons and ammo whenever you can as you shoot your way through almost overwhelming numbers of the KPA.

Some of the first level set-pieces have an echo of the familiar about them. There's a shootout at an abandoned petrol station, a classic 'flank the tank and plant some C4 on it' moment and a battle through the wreckage of a downed passenger plane. But, to be honest, the bullets keep flying at such an intensity that there's not really any time to stand still and think about it for too long.


Above: Homefront's battles are fought in the streets and houses of suburbia. The clue's in the name, I guess 

Residents still live in the neighbourhoods that you fight through and some of the citizens don't exactly welcome the resistance with hugs and kisses. They figure that if you're stomping through their kitchens, the KPA isn't going to be too far behind. And they don't want to be suffocated with plastic bags under suspicion of being in cahoots with the resistance. Which is fair enough, even if it's not particularly patriotic.

It's the presence of some innocents caught in the crossfire that helps make one of the shootouts particularly memorable. You take up position in a house and as you shoot through the windows at the advancing KPA, the distressed occupants - a mother and her screaming baby - are a constant noise in the background. It makes the situation pretty fraught and there's a real sense of relief as they make it out safely.


Above: This vehicle is called 'Goliath'. It's controlled remotely and is particularly useful for killing Koreans that are invading your neighbourhood

The crying baby was really playing on my mind and I felt compelled to ask Kaos if there will be any ickle baby fatalities in the game. I was assured that while Homefront hammers away on the shock strings, at no point during the game does a baby actually take a bullet. Phew, mega-controversy averted for another day.

Overall, I've got to say that I'm pretty hyped for Homefront's campaign. I was keen from the first moment I heard about the whole 'future Korea tea-bagging USA in their own backyard' story concept. Now, having played it, I'm hopeful that if Kaos can maintain the pace of the first level throughout the whole game, we should be in for a shooter that's got more than just an intriguing storyline to shout about.

Homefront will be out for PC, PS3 and 360 early next year. You can read our Homefront multiplayer preview here.

November 8, 2010

21 comments

  • Spybreak8 - November 11, 2010 5:08 a.m.

    Been watching this game for it seems forever. Well not forever but a long time though.
  • Sy87 - November 10, 2010 6:48 p.m.

    Haha looks interesting. Now that I think about it you are always playing the role of liberator in games. They should make a game where you are part of a totalitarian government military. Not as Korea though. Or any actual government fictional. Anyway "Wolverines!"
  • IRAQITNT - November 10, 2010 1:02 a.m.

    wow it is like going back to Iraq and seeing what Americans were doing there. it would be nice to switch roles :) Definitely gonna play as Korea :)
  • Markstone - November 9, 2010 9:44 p.m.

    Those Koreans are crazy, probably from being so ronrey. Anyways, looking forwards to this
  • Mazed - November 9, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    @435: That's all entirely true, and it needs to be emphasized that developers have every right to tell their story--and there's no issue with describing the actions of a totalitarian regime. The problem is the way these things are usually marketed and the kind of audience they intend to attract. I will be frankly astonished if this game ends up being NOT a spectacle of gore and horror grasping for shock-value attention because it's "close to home", but instead actually does tell a story of genuine tragedy bringing to light world issues that need resolving. I don't have my hopes up. We're not going to get that. What we'll have is yet another war simulator that demonizes a nation we have a tense situation with in real life--one to which there are no easy solutions, given the extreme ideological differences between our nations, and one that needs to be handled with *incredible* caution. Whether they're intending to or not, they're creating anti-Korean propaganda with this game. This doesn't help matters. The comfort is that it will probably come and go and eventually be forgotten like the piles of similar games who's mediocrity renders irrelevant what'd otherwise be controversial--except, of course, to the moral crusaders who despise video games to begin with and gleefully tout this sort of thing in support of their argument.
  • 435 - November 9, 2010 8:23 p.m.

    I am severely hyped for this game. Normally a very jaded person these days, but this interests me greatly. Maybe it's because it's pretty close to one of my favorite games of all time... and one that's been mentioned many a time already. @Mazed: It should be noted that the bleak scene described by the intro is pretty close what North Koreans have suffered at the hands of their regime. Or what happened to American POWs at the hands of their captors during the Korean Conflict. So to think that such tactics would be used upon a defeated nation should an invasion occur is well within the realm of possibility. The reason for using these horrors is the narrative; they have a story they came up with and wanted to tell. Who else has a chance of being even close to the bogeyman for us anymore?
  • Mazed - November 9, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    Is anyone else bothered by this, not because of the absurd shock value(that the games market is flooded with that is another thing entirely), but by the implications? Does it serve *any* purpose to release a game portraying North Koreans as inhuman monsters? Yes--war is horrible and violent, but that's not the debate. Stuff like this offers up generic FPS gameplay in addition to cultivating absolute terror of an invasion as the culmination of what's already a troublesome international issue. Free speech is fantastic, but I would love to what Kaos Studios' answer to this would be.
  • grappler51 - November 9, 2010 7:27 p.m.

    Looks really good, definitley gonna buy. Hope the PC version's good....
  • Letter11 - November 9, 2010 6:56 p.m.

    @ n00b "freedom fighters" Thank you for mentioning Freedom Fighters! That was one of my favorite games and I'm surprised how it never seems to come up when discussing Homefront. They have incredibly similar plots! Anyway this game is looking cool, the setting really helps set it apart from other shooters. I hope they can deliver.
  • spideralex90 - November 9, 2010 5:23 p.m.

    Now this Game i will probably pick up on Day 1. It looks AWESOME. I like my campaigns to be unsettling, I like my developers to be gutsy rather than stick with old tried and true methods.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 9, 2010 4:59 p.m.

    aannnd it's gonna be rated M. Shheeeeeit.
  • Joaovpo - November 9, 2010 4:18 p.m.

    Awesome, can't wait to see americans suffering!! (joking), but I love these games that shock our very minds, mess with our emotions...
  • Tomkins - November 9, 2010 3:58 p.m.

    I want Freedom Fighters two. This looks cool though. Also if you like America getting dicked by soviet forces, play World in Conflict, it's amazing. Except it's Russians and in the expansion pack you get to play as the Russians, it's awesome.
  • n00b - November 9, 2010 3:51 p.m.

    freedom fighters
  • Fusionmix - November 9, 2010 3:43 p.m.

    This looks incredible. One of the games I'm really looking forward to. Now let's hope the PC port isn't broken.
  • gunslingerbil - November 9, 2010 3:21 p.m.

    with cars coming right at your face,a must buy i say :D
  • Baron164 - November 9, 2010 3:11 p.m.

    I am looking forward to this. It reminds me so much of Freedom Fighters and that game was awesome. I'm just hoping Homefront is just as good.
  • GuyBrush_ThreepWood - November 9, 2010 3:06 p.m.

    high hopes but expect a 7 score..
  • sgh341 - November 9, 2010 3:04 p.m.

    This is now on my radar for sure.
  • Matt Cundy - November 9, 2010 3:02 p.m.

    @tareq Added a link to our multiplayer preview at the bottom of the page.

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