My blog is making a return after over 3 years of dust collecting, triggered by a university project.
Saturday, 19 March 2011
How's it looking on the Homefront?
Hey Gamers, welcome back to my blog!
It's time for my review on the hugely anticipated game, Homefront! I've clocked up a lot of hours on this game already, on-line and off-line, and I'm here to tell you the good and the bad points about this thrill of a shooter!
First of all, the hype surrounding this game was insane, so it was no wonder why everyone was expecting big things on all fronts from this game, no pun intended. Because of this, when the game was first released in the U.S and in other selected countries earlier this week, Homefront was getting bombed with negative comments as finishing below expectations, in the minds of both critics and gamers in general. Although.. this isn't exactly the developer, Kaos Studio's fault, as they didn't create so much of the hype and people forget and don't realise that this is only their second ever game; their first game being Frontlines: Fuel of War (FPS, released February 2008.)
I'm going to talk about the presentation of Homefront, to kick off my review, as it has been one of the main factors under scrutiny. The graphics aren't what I would call 'ground-breaking'. They don't even match the standards of the likes of Call of Duty, and they definitely don't come anywhere near being as good as Crysis/Crysis 2. With there being a lot of open spaces in this game, with a long view distance, the game suffers with it's lack of graphic power and it makes the game look rather tattered at times. However, up-close, the game isn't all that bad. The textures on the player models are just about above-average, but they're nothing close to spectacular; however the texture detail on the weaponry is pretty damn sharp, they've done a great job with that. In regards to the general terrain, lighting and surroundings, Kaos Studios have done OK; they manage to capture the mood with pathetic fallacy effectively and set the tone for the game to match the events within the story.
As well as the at-times tatty graphics, the facial detail on the characters leave a lot to be desired. Throughout various parts of the game, the characters show no emotion whatsoever, it's almost like you're playing along side a band of action men and women, it's very plastic! Because I am very picky regarding attention to detail, this was bugging me, as it was spoiling some of the heart-wrenching and general dramatic moments when the character expressions weren't there to match.
The sound in the game doesn't reinvent the wheel like EA Dice managed to do with Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2; Homefront just sounds like a common game in regards to the sound effects and the voice acting. However, the background music depending on what situation you're in, is pretty cool, and it goes well with the game and adds to the intense atmosphere.
The general game-play is fantastic. The controls are smooth and the movements are fluid, and there's also a satisfying amount of recoil on the weapons, which makes it much more realistic compared to, for example, Call of Duty: Black Ops. Whichever gun you choose from your load-out, or from off the floor, you will always feel like you have a good, powerful weapon. Using Black Ops as an example again, a lot of the weapons didn't feel powerful enough, and it didn't really feel good when you were using them, as it was like there was no significant damage being dealt, at all. Whilst every gun feels powerful, they're not powerful to the extent that it makes the game imbalanced; it just means that it feels like you're actually using something based on a real weapon, and not a spud gun.
Homefront is no way a run-and-gun type of campaign, oh no. You have to move from cover to cover, effectively, as the AI soldiers on the other team are a crack shot, and this adds realism to the situation. It doesn't take a lot of bullets to kill you, so if you're used to playing Call of Duty on a moderate difficulty, I would screw your head back on and pull your pants up for this one, as at times, it's quite difficult!
However, having said all of that, there are two big annoyances tied in with the game-play. The AI on your team take a hell of a long time to get into position, and what's worse is that you actually have to wait for them to get into position in order for the next sequence of the mission to start, this happens quite regularly. As for the second problem, it's pretty much a direct link from the first. After the AI has spent a good while getting into position, whilst you're stood there itching your head, you then have to wait for every single AI character to move through a door, climb down a ladder or hop over an obstacle, before you can do so yourself; this reminded me a lot of Medal of Honour's problem, regarding the same issue.
To describe the campaign in a few words, it's very short! I managed to complete the campaign in around about three hours. It's not even like the campaign leaves you wanting more.. it just leaves you expecting more! It's so frustrating. But, you have to give credit where it is due, as the story line was truly fantastic. I didn't expect it to be anything less than fantastic, considering the writer was the same guy who did the story for Apocalypse Now, John Milius. As I've said already in this review, some of the scenes and dialogue in the game are simply heart-wrenching. The story-line is so powerful that it will make even the hardest man or woman choke up at some points. One of the main reasons that I completed the campaign so fast, is because it was just so intense, and it was just none-stop action in one way or another, with the right amount of 'rest' periods in-between, where you got to walk around briefly and talk to some of the AI, to fill you in on what's happened. But because the story-line was so great, it just added to the disappointment when you find out that the game has been completed, in what can only be described as a sudden halt. Don't get me wrong, the ending was great, but it will make you let out a big, automatic sigh if you play it.
With the campaign leaving a lot to be desired, in terms of it's life-time, can the multi-player do Homefront any justice? To answer swiftly, hell yes!
Kaos Studios have done an immaculate job with the multi-player, and even though it doesn't try anything new, it just tries to be fun. What is most evident for me when I play the multi-player, is that they have taken the best things about Call of Duty and the best things from Battlefield: Bad Company and melded it into one, to make a thrilling on-line experience. I have been playing Homefront multi-player for quite a lot of hours now, and it's made me nothing short of a happy panda.
Kaos Studios haven't gone overboard in regards to the weapon selections and general equipment and perks; they have managed to create a good balance so that it isn't over-kill, and it makes sure that you won't be sitting there for about fifteen minutes before your session, just trying to figure out what damn guns to pick!
One of the things I like the most about the Homefront multi-player, is the game points system. In each game, you will start at 0 points, and with every kill, assist and general team objective that you manage to execute, you will be rewarded with points. With these points, you can unlock vehicles for use for when you next spawn (which won't carry over after you die, unless you get the right amount of points again), and those vehicles include Humvee's, Tanks and Attack Helicopters. Also with the points, you can unlock whatever special weapon/equipment you put into your load-out, and this could include anything varying from a flack jacket to a guided missile. You can also control robots to your advantage too, such as the radio controlled mini-tank equipped with a mini-gun to suit, and different types of helicopter-like vehicles. I really like this points system, as you actually have to earn the powerful vehicles and equipment by putting more effort into your game, instead of getting kill-streak rewards regularly in Call of Duty, which has become a massive annoyance to a lot of people who play that game on-line.
The maps in the multi-player are really well made, and a lot of fun. There are plenty of places to hide with your sniper, flank as an assault solider or just have a full on shoot-out on a main road. Said maps are quite large, and can effectively host 16 to 32 players on-line in one game, which makes for some immense battles. Even though there can be 32 players on-line in one game, the stability of the multi-player is awesome. I've experienced no connections problems, nor have I come across any obvious bugs which spoil the game.
Now, I could have said a lot more about this game, but I have said quite a lot already! So I will stop there, and let you rest your eyes, because I'm nice like that.
I'm going to give this game a score of 7.5 out of 10, and here's my general conclusion, kept as brief as possible; the campaign is short and will leave you wanting more, but the story is incredible and must be played. The visuals and the sound are altogether quite average, but in terms of capturing the mood and the weapon detail, it excels. The AI on your team are slow and leave you waiting whilst they get into position for the next sequence of the mission, which can leave you frustrated as it breaks up the pace of the game significantly. In terms of game-play, on and off-line, Homefront boasts fluid movements and smooth controls, making it an effective shooter. The multi-player alone will have you thinking it's money well spent; if the campaign doesn't give you a kick, then the intense multi-player will. It has the potential for a long life and no bugs at all are present at this stage.
I would highly recommend fans of FPS games to at least rent Homefront and give it a chance, because you will be able to complete the campaign before you have to send it back, and you will be able to get a good amount of hours played on the multi-player, which is very likely going to nudge you towards buying the game!
Thanks for reading gamers, and if you're still with me after that epic wall of text, then you deserve a pat on the back! If you didn't stay with me until the very end, then you're impatient and you fail.
I hope that you're all awesome and that you will come back soon!