Homefront: The Revolution PS4 Review
Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Dambuster Studios Genre: FPS Players: 1-4
Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
It has taken so long for this Homefront sequel to be released that North Korea could have conquered America as well as the rest of the world in the time that it has taken to get from the drawing board to the shelf. Initially, the game was to be published by THQ and developed by Crytek UK, although both these companies are no more, leaving Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios to pick up the pieces.
Homefront: The Revolution takes place in the aftermath of a mass invasion of America by North Korean forces, which is an intriguing set-up for such a game. To see the once mighty America under siege has been carried out successfully in the game, and events take place four years into this hostile takeover in the year 2029. The actual story is decent enough as a motivating factor, but isn’t anything more than this. Characters remain uninteresting and, for a game about a group of resistance fighters, they’re also lacking in any real charisma.
The original Homefront was a tightly scripted linear FPS, but this sequel is a more ambitious open-world affair that takes place in the city of Philadelphia. The city is split into three different zones – yellow zones, red zones and green zones – of which indicates to you the level of threat you face in each area. Yellow zones are where most of the Philadelphia citizens reside, but there’s also enemies regularly patrolling. With weapons hidden away, however, you are able to blend in with others and slip by unnoticed. Red zones, on the other hand, have a much higher threat level, with such zones being a no go area for anyone other than the Korean’s, so as soon as you are seen roaming around these areas, the enemies will start shooting at you. Finally, the affluent green zones are very heavily fortified, meaning that these are the most dangerous zones in the game.
One of Homefront: The Revolution’s greatest successes is definitely the well realised world that the game takes place in. Even though the actual idea of North Korea invading the most powerful country in the world may be far fetched, with its ruined environments and military filled streets the people behind the game have managed to make such a scenario believable. The game has an oppressive atmosphere, but there’s also a feeling of hope whenever the resistance manages to get the upper hand; taking back yellow zones by raising a hearts and mind meter through various actions, which then allows you to start an uprising, resulting in a cut-scene that shows the American people fighting back against their oppressors.
With challenging action that forces you to rely on caution and cover as opposed to run and gun play, you are certainly no reinforced tank but, fortunately, nor are the North Korean soldiers that you’ll be shooting at, and, due to their unpredictable nature, they are hardly governed by the greatest AI in the world either. With not always reliable aiming mechanics, deadly enemy aim, and the potential for lots of player deaths, the action is difficult enough to lead to frustration, but, other than losing items you have gathered, there isn’t too much penalty in dying. Following death, you get put back in one of your bases, and then you can soon get back to doing what you were doing before you kicked the bucket. There are various weapons, with some being able to be purchased and upgraded, but, in this fast advancing world, I think that by 2029 we may have weapons other than the typical handguns, machine guns, rifles and shotguns that are dominantly present here. I may be wrong about the future of firearms, but something with a little more imagination certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss in terms of the virtual arsenal on offer here. More interestingly, you are able to quickly transform one firearm into another through modifying attachments, which is very cool to watch, with a handgun quickly becoming an SMG for example. Even if the weapons you fire are overly typical, at least these transforming weapons do give the game somewhat of a near-futuristic feel.
As for the stealth mechanics, they do the job, but they’re a bit shaky in the way that enemies can be occasionally unpredictable in their detection of you, and this can make things feel a bit unfair. You can sneak up on enemies and shoot them with a silenced weapon or get close enough to them to use a devastating melee attack on them. As the shooting can be brutal, making use of stealth is often the safer option whenever it is available to you, and there’s certainly satisfaction to be had in, say, skulking through a yellow zone.
As the game is open-world, it does give you the choice to do different things when you aren’t following a main story mission, which have typical FPS objectives. Side missions include finding resistance stashes and radios, as well as sabotaging objects. Strike points, on the other hand, have you taking control of an area of strategic interest for the resistance in the red zones, which then becomes a new base of operations for you. The Strike Points actually offer a decent amount of variation in order to overcome them, which include everything from just shooting your way through enemies, platforming, to taking to the air on a motorbike.
There’s a lot to do in the campaign if you so wish, so it will last you plenty of hours if you don’t just focus on the story missions. Beyond the campaign, the game doesn’t feature any competitive multiplayer, which is something that was present in the original Homefront, although it does have the cooperative Resistance mode. This mode can be played by up to four players, and has you taking part in guerrilla warfare in familiar areas that you’ll find in the campaign. You can customise the look of your character, as well as your weapons and skills through progress you make in the mode. It’s a great mode, particularly if you team up with others that are willing to play as a team as opposed to the lone wolves out there.
The game is marred by well documented technical issues, which includes a sluggish framerate and annoying pauses. The visuals actually have some impressive lighting effects and are decent enough for what they are, but when things start stuttering, this does spoil things somewhat. I have even experienced three second pausing issues during combat situations, which isn’t the best time for the game to pause. A patch has made things a bit better, but more improvement is still required, as these issues are definitely the biggest flaws in the game right now.
Homefront: The Revolution has its flaws, but I still managed to enjoy my time with it, and I never felt as if I wanted to get out of the game world as quickly as possible. As the game has had such a turbulent development history, I think everyone involved has done decently enough in drawing the best out of a bad job. It’s not the greatest FPS in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still a decent enough effort that is worth a look if you are a fan of the genre.