Homefront: The Revolution - Review

http://invisiblekidreviews.blogspot.de/2016/06/homefront-revolution-review.html

Homefront: The Revolution sure has had a very rough time finally getting released.
After publisher THQ closed its doors and the game resultingly changed developers and publishers multiple times, there was a time one seriously had to question whether Homefront: The Revolution would eventually even come to see the light of day after all or would just get canceled.
Ultimately though, publisher Deep Silver and developer Dambuster Studios took it upon themselves to finally finish the game and release it to the gaming world.
Yet with so much trouble involved in the game's making, has that hard time left its negative marks on the final game, or is Homefront: The Revolution still able to make up for the bad taste of its poor predecessor?...


Story

The plot:
Homefront: The Revolution takes place in 2029 in an alternate timeline, following the protagonist Ethan Brady as he stages a resistance movement against the army of a North Korean occupation in the city of Philadelphia.
(source: Wikipedia)



Much like its predecessor, Homefront: The Revolution's story once again focusses on a plot very reminiscent of the 80s movie Red Dawn.
With North Korea invading the USA in the first game, Homefront: The Revolution as a sequel now focusses on North Korea actually ruling over the US and having pinned down the population and US-citizens. And even though the game only gives a very far fetched and unrealstic explanation during its prologue as to how North Korea gained control over one of the most powerful countries in the world, there is no denying that the plot indeed has enough interesting potential to tell a great story.
Sadly, though, much like the rest of the entire game, Homefront: The Revolution very much squanders any potential for a decent story by relying on very unimmersive, generic and oftentimes just flatout boring storytelling. This mostly goes hand in hand with the game's tendency to constantly give you very uninteresting missions involving characters without any unique personalities but instead being stereotypical cardboard cutouts from every other military-shooter out there.

How did we get into this unrealistic situation again? Well, nevermind.

While the atmosphere and design of the city of Philadelphia do a great job of giving you an awesome environment that greatly conveys the depression and struggle the US-citizens are going through in a Korean ruled nation, the game's uninspired and forgettable story instead feels like it could've been just pasted into any other military-rebel-shooter. With a tortue sequence, a big rebel strike plan, a big failed operation, a tratior, etc. it mostly just feels like Homefront: The Revolution is simply checking off boxes of what makes a standard shooter story and seems to have absolutely zero interest in developing an own unique one with own unique characters. Instead we get a lot of "I hate norks", "Let's kill all the norks" and a whole lot of other mindless revolutionary patriotistic grunts and freedom speeches. Especially in the tedious long cutscenes during the game, it clearly shows that Homefront: The Revolution is one of those games that manage to talk a whole lot without actually saying anything of value.

"Murica, Murica! Patriotism! Kill all Norks! I get it already. Now, shut up!"


Gameplay
 

Core Gameplay Mechanics - "Checking Off Boxes"

Talking about generic shooter stories, Homefront: The Revolution directly complements its uninspired bore of a story with an equally run-off-the-mill core gameplay design.
Instead of a linear shooter with an online-competitive multiplayer component, Homefront: The Revolution instead decided to go the route of an open world shooter. And while this decision is definitely a good move since it gives way to really utilize the game's destroyed city landscapes to their fullest potential, Homefront: The Revolution relies quite a bit too heavily on what has already been established long ago by the likes of the Far Cry games.
Being first and foremost a shooter, the prime method of how to free the city of Philadelphia, is shooting (even though it still baffles me how the Korean soldiers are always able to directly spot you out as the threat among a crowd of other normal citizens even when not having a weapon equipped). With a respectable arsenal of weapons, gadgets and even some mostly functional stealth mechanics, the game gives the player enough tools to feel like he has quite some room for experimentation and freedom. Thus enemy camps can be conquered either stealthily or guns-blazing, while there are also a great number of upgrade possibilites given to your overall equipment, weapons and gear.
And while this means that Homefront: The Revolution actually gives the player enough tools to have fun with in its open world, the ultimate problem here is that absolutely none of this feels unique. With absolutely every single weapon, gadget, vehicle or mission feeling very been-there-done-that, Homefront: The Revolution lacks an own distinct character in its gameplay design, with only the setting barely helping it to stand out.

It's like Far Cry...only way more bland and with more issues.


Mission Design - "A Far Cry From Being Original"

What makes the aforementioned problem of no own unique ideas or an own identity in gameplay design so apparent is even more so the fact that every single aspect that Homefront: The Revolution seems to blatenedly rip-off of other big game titles while doing none of the ripped-off aspects outstandingly good. With the gunplay being servicable but nothing special, the upgrade variety being good but generic, the platforming exploration sections being rather unengaging and especially the mission designs feeling very repetetive, there is nothing that Homefront: The Revolution really delivers that you can't find being done in another game to a better degree. Ultimately, in its big attempt to rip-off most notably Ubisoft's game design of the Far Cry series, Homefront: The Revolution as a result only showcases how desperately it wants to be Far Cry but simply can't. Instead it simply boils down to it becoming a shadow and lame Far Cry wannabe which it shouldn't have been in the first place if it brought something actually creative and original to the table, which it sadly absolutely never does aside from maybe its setting.

Take over enemy control station No. 2340293420349...

The biggest showcase of that are Homefront: The Revolution's mission designs which come down to having become sort of a microcosm for everything that's wrong with the game. While the missions themselves are servicable, they are probably the main reason (aside from the absolutely boring story and characters) that will prevent many players from maybe even finishing the game at all. The mission design in Homefront: The Revolution is extremely repetetive and extremely unengaging in the long run. Even though the missions are technically servicable, they oftentimes feel very uninspiredly slapped together and as a whole represent the player feeling like a redundant errand boy and tool for rebel leaders to push around throughout the entirety of the game (Ethan Brady of course also has no voice...or personality).
With a total of roughly 8 districts there for you to free, story progession as good as always involves you doing some story missions until those are suddenly further blocked until you do enough side-missions/side-activities (clear enemy stations, activate signal posts, etc.) to unlock the next story mission to keep moving forward. And though seeing the districts' atmosphere and look drastically change when your actions encourage and evoke a huge uprising of the citizens and riots in the streets of a district, there's still no denying that the game basically shoots itself in the leg by destroying your motivation with uninteresting story missions that await you after having done the same side-activities over and over again.

...to cause riot No. 9304923.


Multiplayer 

Instead of a competitive multiplayer component which was a feature of its predecessor, Homefront: The Revolution instead wisely relied more on a cooperative multiplayer component.
Playing cooperatively with a friend definitely brings a lot more fun to Homefront: The Revolution's otherwise rather bland experience, as is the case with most games featuring co-op.
Yet on the other hand, the co-op in Homefront: The Revolution also is, much like the rest of the game, rather unimpressive despite offering quite a few more customization options for your character.

For what it's worth, The Revolution is a tad bit better with friends.


Graphics
 

After having been shoved around from developer to developer and publisher to publisher during the downfall of THQ while additionally having been delayed multiple times, this sure has left serious marks on Homefront: The Revolution.
And even though one might assume that after so much time developer Dambuster Studios would have had more than enough time to make the game at least run well...sadly the opposite is the case.

Unfortunately, Homefront: The Revolution happens to be one of the most horribly optimized and unpolished games of this console generation. Especially on consoles, the game boasts numerous technical difficulties that not only make the game feel very unstable and oftetimes ugly, but even worse, sometimes even frustrate the player. Only to name a few of the many bugs that are STILL present even after patch 1.03 of the game: constant clipping glitches, HEAVILY inconsistent FPS-rates that without the patch often make it borderline unplayable, choppy animations, the game freezing EVERYTIME it saves, unreliable platforming mechanics, lackluster lip-syncing, character models spawning right in front you when running too fast, etc.
Simply speaking from a technical standpoint, Homefront: The Revolution feels utterly unfinished and unpolished and would've been better off having been delayed for yet another time. While it wouldn't have helped the overall generic game design a whole lot, the game would've at least run well. 
Other than that, Homefront: The Revolution actually CAN look really great at times, but those times are rare when considering how much the world feels like it might just fall apart the second you make a step.


Sound
 

Soundwise, there is not really anything noteworthy to mention.
Aside from some fitting score that succesfully captures the tone of desperation, courage and patriotism, and some solid sound design, it's the voice work that comes off as quite a bit too over the top. Either because of the bad dialogue or the flat characters alltogether, every uttered word of the game's characters feels like clicheed, over-the-top, cheesy, patriotic nonsense, that will definitely make you roll your eyes multiple times.

Prepare for a true glitch safari.


The Verdict

All in all, despite featuring a promising setting with loads of potential to improve upon its lackluster predecessor, Homefront: The Revolution sadly absolutely wastes its chance. Now trying to change things up as an open world shooter, Homefront: The Revolution nevertheless turns out to be just as troubled as its development history suggests. From a boring predictable story, over clicheed cardboard-cutout characters, all the way to its uninspired rip-off game design lacking an own identity, Homefront: The Revolution does nothing you won't find being done better in another game (especially Far Cry, which it so desperately wants to be).
Yet what ultimately drags Homefront: The Revolution even below being simply considered as a very mediocre game, is the fact that it additionally turns out to be technically horribly optimized. Even with the latest patch 1.03 (at the time of writing) you will encounter such a big number of different technical glitches that the game will many times just flatout feel broken or unfinished with some glitches able to even cause serious frustrations for the player.

Combining its severe generic and been-there-done-that feel along with its numerous technical problems, Homefront: The Revolution will sadly go down as just one big missed chance to make the most out of its Red Dawn-like setting and make up for its lackluster predecessor. It is a just as poor (if not even worse) entry in the Homefront series that is already destined to pile up like crazy in stores' bargain bins after only a few months. Also, it wouldn't be surprising if Homefront: The Revolution ironically enough served as the final nail in the coffin for this franchise that never managed to reach the heights of its potential.
          
   


 Final Verdict: 4 out of 10 

Status: Poor




Big thanks goes out to Koch Media for providing a review copy of the game.

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