However, I'm going to come very close to saying exactly that today. (/suspense)
I was really looking forward to Homefront, which dropped this past Tuesday. I was a big fan of Red Dawn, a movie from the 80's which I understood was an inspiration for this game. John Milius, who wrote Red Dawn was writing the story. Kaos Studios, who did Frontlines Fuel of War was going to develop it; I didn't think Frontline was groundbreaking but if they could build on that and make a better game, this could be something enjoyable.
Last week, an article circulated that Homefront's Single Player Campaign was only five hours long. Red Flag. Ok, maybe that was just someone breezing through the game on easy; hell, Dead Space 2 would probably clock in at that time on the easiest difficulty. Then after release, investors took wooden bats to the mailbox of THQ's stock price , upon the news that the game's reviews have been rather negative. Red Flag number 2. Then when I had the game in hand and tried to play online multiplayer, we failed over and over again. THQ issued a statement saying they had more traffic than anticipated which meant some delay in getting into online multiplayer games. Red flag number 3: There is no joy in Gameville, my wallet has struck out.
If you are familiar with Red Dawn, then you get the premise of Homefront. Input North Koreans for Russians, grown-ups leading the resistance instead of kids, and you are the essentially the Powers Boothe character. Now, as Homefront begins, you get the notion that this game has some potential. You get the back story behind the decline of the America's power, how their economy cratered and left it susceptible to internal choas and occupation by a foreign regime (basically everything that people expects to happen after the oil crash). You open to what is a grizzly scene; while being escorted as a prisoner, you witness the horrors of occupation: military outposts sitting by the neighborhood drugstore, "processing areas", people murdered on the street corner with their infant children crying over their mangled bodies. Its all pretty powerful and a good setup.
To be totally honest, for a single player that's very short, there certainly is a difficult time discerning what the hell you are doing. Basically, you are doing a fuel heist: since gas is a rare commodity, the American resistance is going to take the opportunity to seize some fuel tankers and deliver them to the United States Armed Forces in San Fransisco (I guess the coming and going of Peak Oil, the US ignored its pursuit of alternative energy sources by the year 2027). Your role as a former marine pilot is to help gather information about how to track these fuel tankers, then steal a helicopter in order to hijack the convoy and escort them to the military and turn the tide of the occupation. In case you were wondering, yes the Single player campaign is rather short. Don't be stunned if you beat this game in one evening or maybe two at most.
I think Homefront had the opportunity to tell a more compelling story, something that could have immersed the player more into the world of despair and desperation. There is a scene where you happen upon a community baseball diamond that's become a dumping ground for the dispatched local dissonants. Instead of using this moment for tension and drama, its cheapened when your co-hort feigns rage and alerts the bad guys directly to your position. I would have rather liked it if that was left to you to be disturbed by this sight. You'd think that the people in the midst of resistance would have some knowledge that all their buddies are being disappeared in the middle of the night.
You will also happen upon a fellow enclave of freedom fighters later in the game, that are somehow interested in killing you as well. After a fierce gun-battle in the opening sequence, you infiltrate the camp to steal a helicopter, encountering more sentries in your wake. I had a hard time believing that a fifteen minute firefight would leave the remaining guards totally unaware or even ignorant about bullets flying not 1000 feet away.
|These guys: not your friends.|
For a short single player game, there is another part that cheapens the experience and that is when you are controlling a remote "Goliath" that will put down enemies in your stead. I really would rather have used some basic combat tactics of having one group lay down some cover while you moved around to the sides and flanked your entrenched enemy, instead of just having your RC Bigfoot with minigun do it all for you. There is a similar scene in Bulletstorm (that I just reviewed); wasn't cool there, wasn't cool here.
As of right now, Multiplayer is a mess. I tried for two evenings to bring a party of four into a multiplayer match with no success. Here's a few hints to THQ: You know how many copies of the game you pre-sold (anywhere from 200,000-300,000), and you figured that a good majority of those presells were going to pick up the game in the first few days and want to play online. So when you tell people that you had a higher-than-expected capacity on your dedicated servers, it totally comes off as amateur hour, ESPECIALLY when your game comes with a code to "unlock multiplayer".
Once I got into a few games, I found the classes were totally unbalaced. Your score becomes currency to unlock new things, weapons, abilities, vehicles. Well people that managed to put in more time than you online have already the capability to unlock a chopper that just rains death upon you and is near impossible to take down. Your games are going to be pretty lopsided; either you have a 10:1 kill/death ratio or 1:20 because you can't go 5 steps without getting mowed down.
Now again, I hate to belittle anyone that puts a lot of time and effort into something that had promise and just does not come close to delivering. I won't tell you to not play this game, but you certainly wouldn't want to drop $60 on it unless you hate money. You could rent it, but kiss off playing multiplayer or else you'd have to pay $10 for your online access code. I wouldn't recommend that, either. If you rent it, just play the Single Player collect your 150ish gamerscore achievements and send it back in. You get the feeling though, upon finishing the game, that THQ/Kaos kind of leaves you hanging; that more will come in the way of a sequel or more missions via DLC. If that's the case, its a sham money grab and you needn't waste your time.
TL;DR- "... In the early days of 2011, the hopeful - mostly suckers - bought the game Homefront. They were shown great fail and gave up their money, so that 'this nation shall not have to waste their time on this Earth'. "