Will Preston

Call of Duty’s handicapped and unwanted son

by on Mar.23, 2011, under Review, Video Games

There are always signs that one can look out for when an upcoming game isn’t going to live up to the hype. One sign is the lack of in-game footage in adverts. Another is if the game is made by a particularly unknown company. But one sign to look out for is when the game’s box has a sticker giving it a high score from a publication such as Zoo, The Sun or any other magazine that I would sooner use as fuel than consult it for opinions on what games to buy. Kaos Studios’ recent title Homefront gave off all these warning signs and a few more.

Try feeling like an underdog when you're armed with a tank! Go on, just try it!

Last year, this game looked like it was going to stand out in the field of first person shooters. The story and setting suggested that a different approach was going to take place compared to Call of Duty’s gun-gasm method. Film writer John Milius (Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now) crafted the story (I say story, it’s just Red Dawn rehashed with even more xenophobic propaganda) and the game’s advertising campaign dangles this in front of us like we’re supposed to drop our control pads and begin shaking with vigorous anticipation. Milius’ story is the typical ‘America get’s invaded and a small group of plucky rebels take back the country from the overpowered invaders’. And the overpowered invaders you ask? North Korea. Yes, it seems that pretending the Russians want to invade the USA in Modern Warfare 2 was small potatoes to Milius and he decided to start with real people and events (Kim Jong Il, North Korea missile testing, America’s economy crashing etc.) and take it an extra step further (Fuel supplies running to zero, North Korea invading neighbouring countries etc.). By the time you get a glimpse of the North Korean armies taking over the suburbs of an American town and shooting people on the spot, it all seems to be a bit too much like potential brainwashing. But I can live with that as long as I can just play this game and enjoy it as just a game and nothing else, right?

No idea why they're lining up citizens like that. Maybe they really hate Jersey Shore.

We were promised guerrilla warfare with an intense story. So that would be using your wits instead of relying on high-tec military grade equipment, right? What a whopper of a fib that turned out to be. For a start, an assault rifle with optional attachments is easier to get then light conversation. And ammo is pretty plentiful, so there wasn’t much use for tactics when you couldn’t crouch behind cover without finding a cache of weapons. I was looking forward to using my head and conserving ammo, but that’s just me. Not only this, but most of the game you have access to what can only be described as an unmanned tank which is remotely controlled by simply staring at the enemy. Guerrilla warfare, indeed! Then there’s the issue of crap presentation. Homefront’s graphics would have looked slightly dated on a Playstation 2. There’s sacrificing fancy graphics in favour of framerate and to allow more things to happen in the game at once, but here, the graphics are sacrificed in favour of absolutely nothing. The level design get’s so samey you forget where one mission ended and the other began. Ask me for any memorable moments in the single player campaign and I could only reply with an expression of confusion followed by an irritated grunt.

This is probably about as epic as the game got. Yawn...

The entire game takes place in the same less than densely populated area of America with barely any variety in layout and approach. But a shooter is a shooter and as long as the guns work I’m fine. Homefront’s guns sound terrible. Unless they’re on single shot, they sound like perforated lawnmowers, whenever you stab someone it sound like you’re breaking into a car and being hit by bullets sounds closer to being hit with a fly swatter. Really, what was Kaos Studio thinking?! Problems like this prevent me from feeling immersed in the game. Even Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 managed to make the guns sound like guns. Hell, even Doom is more atmospheric shooter. If you’re waiting for the positives, you might want to have a coffee break until I reach them as I still have a list to go through. The AI is so stupid that they often look at my thrown grenades like someone’s wrote a dirty limerick on the side, or maybe they’re just confused as my character seems to throw them like he’s bought his arms on eBay. The story could have been bought off eBay as well. Despite advertising a famous film writer working on the game, the story is completely un-compelling and the characters are so two dimensional, I’m not surprised they folded the resistance into a big envelope and posted themselves in order to sneak past enemy guards.

But Will, you must be thinking, surely the multiplayer must make up for a redundant cow pat of a single player mode? After having to enter in a code (or buy one, if you bought the game second hand) to access multiplayer, I got denied from 5 servers before playing my first game You earn points to buy things like vehicles and air strikes, but you can only choose from a very small amount of weapons, under half the amount of weapons from Call Of Duty 4. And no pistols. This sounds like a potentially good multiplayer, despite some flaws, but there still lies one main problem: it is the multiplayer from Homefront. All the issues with the game are still visible in multiplayer.

After finishing my experience with this game, I did something I haven’t done in eight years: I rushed out as quickly as I could to the nearest trade in shop and swapped it for a better game before anyone realised how much of a disaster it was. I’m no expert on international politics and possible invasion theories, but if North Korea do end up invading the USA, I can only hope that Kaos Studios are the first lined up against the wall.

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