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Homefront: First Impressions

I recently bought myself a copy of Kaos Studios latest game Homefront the other day, and in one of my moments of downtime, I popped in the disc and played through the first level.

So far the game has been a bit of a mixed bag, having a couple of very good points, but at the same time, having some glaring problems.  Keep in mind, this is just based upon the first level.

First, the positives.  The storyline of this game is obviously what the developers have sunk all their time into.  In an alternate (or even possible) future, Korean ruler Kim Jong-Il passes away, and in his death and new power rises, his son, Kim Jong-un.  Kim Jong-un proceeds to unite both North and South Korea to form the Greater Korean Republic.  Along with creating peace, Jong-un also proceeds to bring two of the most well armed countries weapons into a central location, all pointed at the rest of the world.  The GKR then proceeds to go on a ‘rampage’ attempting (and succeeding) to take over all of Asia, and the surrounding areas.  Once Asia has fallen to the GKR, they then set their sights on the (presumably) still all-powerful America.  This makes for a well fleshed out storyline, heavy in detail and one which will surely become more interesting.

The cut scenes in-game are where the developers seem to have sunk most of their money, with CGI renditions of newscasters, troops and the fictional Kim Jong-un being incredibly prominent throughout the first 5 minutes of the game.  These give the game a more realistic look, and give the cut scenes more weight, allowing the elements of the story to seem more important.

Unfortunately, despite these positives, there are a few negatives.

I heard someone call this game a COD rip-off the other day, and while I don’t completely agree with them, there is nothing in the actual game play to distinguish it from any other FPS on the market right now.  While I know most shooters are ismilar, they generally attempt to bring at least one new gameplay mechanic to the table these days (eg: Skillshots in Bulletstorm, Armour Abilities in Halo, etc.) so far, Homefront has shown me nothing new.   While I’m not prepared to call this a clone of any other FPS just yet, if something doesn’t spice up soon, this may just have to join the pile of same-old FPS’s.

Another negative is the games graphics.  I know these are not the most important aspects of the game, but sometimes they can really detract from the sense of immersion that video games in general try to achieve. I by no means say these graphics are terrible, just that they seem a little dated.  There is some blur on the edge of most environmental objects, the weapons all look quite similar, and moving people don’t seem to render to well when executing their actions.  The animations are also not quite up to par, such as when throwing grenades, the animation seems to be thrown out of nowhere, unlike other shooters, where it is (almost) seemless.

The gameplay, while not unique is fairly okay.  The only down side is that the game seems designed very linearly, with their being few (if any) ways of going back past a pre determined area, and even less ways of flanking around enemy units.  So far, I’ve been able to flank one group of units, and even then, not very well.  You seem to be constantly jumping down ramps that you can’t jump back up, as if to prevent you from getting to far from the action.  This also appears when you are attempting to go trough closed doors, as no matter how soon you get there, you always have to wait a CPU character to appear to kick it open.  And they always kick it open.

The last flaw I’ve found in the game so far that there is frequent loading, causing the game to pause halfway through an action to load an area.  This may be caused by a limitation in the  Xbox’s hardware, preventing it from loading at ideal times, or it may be due to the fact that I have not yet installed the game, which 9/10 times will make a game load slightly faster.

So far, the game has been mildly entertaining, thanks greatly to its unique storyline and great writing.  At this point in time, it’s not a “must-buy” title, but if you do enjoy FPS’s, and dystopian futures, then i do recommend this game for you.  Stay tuned for the full review, coming in the next week or two.

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