Homefront: The Revolution Review
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on PC and Sony PlayStation 4
Homefront: The Revolution has had quite the troubled time during its long development. Publisher changes, developer changes, engine changes, you name it, it’s happened over the course of the last three to four years (roughly, with some many changes it’s tough to put a stake in the ground for the project’s real start date). It has since been developed by a newly created development house in the UK, Dambuster Studios, which is made up of the employees from the previous development house, Free Radical Design. This was the team which was working on the game for Crytek but due to their financial woes couldn’t afford to pay staff a few years back. After the merrygoround of THQ, Crytek, Deep Silver and now parent company Koch Media, Homefront: The Revolution comes to us in 2016, much delayed and more importantly significantly changed from the short linear experience of the original Homefront to which this is a reboot of. This new version is effectively a re-imagining of the same premise set as an open world adventure.
The rather far-fetched story shows us an alternate history where rather than Silicon Valley in the United States, the digital capital of the world is born in North Korea and dubbed Silicon River. As a result of this North Korea becomes a global superpower, producing huge technological advancements and the odd Steve Jobs character along the way. In time the West ends up buying all of their core tech including, you guessed it, military hardware from this now technological super power and of course, things go a little bit south. Faced with an enemy that pretty much has the ability to shut down their defences, North Korea takes control the United States, at first in the guise of peacekeepers / helpers but in time the wolves in sheep's’ clothing seize control. The campaign begins in the midst of a revolution, your goal is to take back your country...one district at a time! Whilst many have ridiculed Homefront: The Revolution here in the UK for their insistence on calling North Korean troops Norks for the entirety of the single-player campaign, as it happens it’s probably the best piece of writing to be found amongst the timid, predictable plot, adding a timely chuckle during key moments and in turn making the experience that little bit more bearable.
Homefront: The Revolution has changed hands so much during this time that you could be forgiven for being very wary of this final launched product and after a few hours with it you will be completely validated in thinking it could be poor. The gameplay template is very much inspired by the Far Cry series: zones, points to capture, main missions, weapon and gear upgrades along with a myriad of collectibles effectively tick all the Far Cry boxes one at a time. As an open world shooter it is fairly ambitious, perhaps too much so given the quality of the final product, with bases, strike missions, varying difficulty levels, a unique and to be fair quite neat weapon modding system which allows you to change weapon types on the fly should you have the right gear, as well as a damn big map to get your teeth into. What lets it down is the overall quality of the experience. When you are heavily borrowing from something like Far Cry, your main concerns should be repetitiveness and gamer fatigue, as these games work very hard on mixing things up a little. Sadly, repetitive mission structure is both present in Homefront: The Revolution and the absolute least of its worries in the grand scheme of things.
For a first person shooter it’s massively disappointing to report that the gunplay is dreadful. Weapons lack any sort of ‘feel’, there is zero punch to anything and at its worst it doesn’t actually play like you are hitting anything. With wild kick back on most starter guns and erratic aiming from the hip or down a modded sight, it’s a nasty janky experience.
Performance on the Xbox One, the format covered for this review, is absolutely remarkable in its poorness. The frame rate varies from generally unacceptable for a current gen big budget title to what can only be described as atrocious, thus meaning that if you really want to be playing Homefront: The Revolution, it is best played in short bursts. To add insult to what is already an assault on the eyes is the auto save feature - commonplace in modern gaming and constantly happening in a game such as this when leaving a ‘shop’ or upgrading your gear and so on. What Homefront: The Revolution does here is something which may well be game-breaking for some. You see, every single time you perform such an action, say for example moving in and out of the ‘shop’ menus it reduces the framerate to zero and completely freezes. To make matters worse not only is it not one of those “blink and you will miss it” freezes, it actually does it for around 5-6 seconds each time. Some may say that isn’t a big deal and in isolation they would be right, it wouldn’t be at all, however for a game that has you jumping from activity to activity, upgrading as you go, completing missions, buying resources, completing strike missions and more these delays massively hinder your experience.
Graphically it’s a real mixed bag, at times it looks alright, bordering on good, others though highlight poor colour use, terrible texture work and general janky randomness. To make matters worse, when you start to move around the issues are amplified. Coupling that frame rate with less than stellar graphics is enough to make the eyes need a rest after a long period of play.
Multiplayer was just about the only good thing about the first Homefront so naturally that’s been dropped here and replaced with a fairly mundane co-op mode. This mode allows up to four players to complete six, ten to fifteen missions on varying difficulty levels. Nothing found within does anything to reach the dizzy heights of the single-player campaign and effectively add nothing to the overall package. This in itself is a missed opportunity which anyone who buys Homefront: The Revolution will hope is updated in the year’s worth (honestly) of downloadable content planned.
It’s been some time since a big, relatively hyped release has been such a chore to play through. Taking a decent enough premise, the much liked Far Cry template and creating a game that is unable to impress due to glaring performance issues on consoles is really quite baffling. The setting is decent, the atmosphere can be good in an intimidating way but as it’s a first-person shooter with awful combat and an even worse frame rate it’s impossible to recommend.