Poor Homefront: The Revolution. A short notice earlier than the tip credit roll rehashes the unhappy, sorry affair of this thrice-damned sequel—first assigned to Kaos Studios, then reassigned by THQ to Crytek UK. Then THQ went bankrupt, Crytek purchased the rights to Homefront, discovered a brand new writer in Deep Silver, after which subsequently misplaced the rights to Deep Silver. Lastly, Deep Silver fashioned Dambuster Studios a.ok.a. “Principally Crytek UK,” if you happen to have a look at the worker roster.
And now right here we’re, with precisely the sport you’d count on from that kind of troubled improvement cycle.
Insurgent with a trigger
Like its predecessor, Homefront: The Revolution ($60 on Amazon) takes place in an alt-history United States the place North Korea and South Korea unified right into a single navy and financial powerhouse and invaded America. Not like the unique, Unified-Korea isn’t a unilateral aggressor right here. Not likely.
As a substitute, America collapses—delivered to its knees by crippling debt, unable to feed its residents, with folks actually dying on the street. Korea intercedes, bringing much-needed meals and provides alongside an occupying military.
However People being People, they’re apparently ungrateful about being saved from (let me reiterate) actually dying within the streets as a result of their authorities ran out of meals and yada yada yada Korea turns into the dangerous man as a result of…I don’t know. Korea goes from “Serving to People” to “Capturing People” for causes which can be poorly defined, and that is the place you are available in—Ethan Brady, newly-recruited to The Resistance, which goals to liberate Philadelphia from the Korean Folks’s Military (KPA).
It’s an “open-world sport,” in idea. You’ll be able to go anyplace you need. However the sport doesn’t actually profit from this set-up, seeing because it’s cut up into a number of smaller districts, separated by prolonged loading screens. You’ll in all probability find yourself following the essential path and by no means returning to earlier zones.
Every zone is its personal miniature sandbox although, and the separation finally ends up working thematically. Philadelphia is damaged into Yellow Zones and Purple Zones—the previous being minimal safety residential areas, the latter being Korean navy strongholds the place civilians are prohibited.
And so they each look and play out in another way. Yellow Zones are extra intact, typically surprisingly so, and your focus is on mixing in with crowds, on hanging from the shadows with explosives strapped to RC vehicles and throwing bricks at cameras. Weapons are a final resort, and your final purpose is to do sufficient miscellaneous odd-jobs (break cameras, destroy propaganda audio system, blow up armored vehicles) to encourage the native populace to stand up and throw off the chains of oppression.
Purple Zones are war-torn and abandoned. No populace to transform right here, and also you would possibly as nicely hold your weapons out as a result of as quickly as you’re noticed you’re in bother. Most of your Purple Zone aims revolve round “Kill this” and “Explode that” with brutal effectivity.
It’s an attention-grabbing twist on the standard Ubisoft formulation—whether or not Yellow or Purple, districts revolve round varied hotspots like so many factors on a Far Cry map. The distinction being that right here, a minimum of within the Yellow Zones, these factors usually require a specific amount of subtlety.
But it surely’s all so staid and predictable. A part of the issue with Homefront—a small a part of the issue—is that this simulated conflict zone is so totally mechanical. When you’ve flipped a zone to the Resistance it’s perpetually part of the Resistance, stuffed with AI-controlled “Good Guys.”
This is sensible from a sport perspective, because the one time Murderer’s Creed carried out “Oh rattling, the Templars are retaking your towers” it was a distracting nightmare. It does take away from the strain, although. You simply steadily sweep throughout the map in a tide of blue-shirted Resistance of us, steadily purging the Korean presence from each district and taming an already-easy sport.
Worse nonetheless, the AI is across-the-board horrible. The stealth system is unpredictable, so typically enemies magically see you whenever you’re ten ft behind them. Different instances you dash previous a patrol in broad daylight and hope the “They noticed you!” meter doesn’t fill all the way in which. Really, that’s what you’ll do more often than not.
And if you happen to’re noticed and pulled into fight? You would possibly as nicely die. It’s not that the weapons don’t work. They do, and a few are literally fairly respectable! Bonus factors go to a gun that shoots pink, white, and blue fireworks, as a result of that’s wonderful. However the penalty for dying is so minimal (lose some trash objects you’d’ve offered for a pittance) it’s basically nonexistent. You get up on the ground of a Resistance safehouse with, I think about, the world’s worst headache after which it’s off to the identical seize level once more.
You don’t even want to have interaction in fight for a lot of the seize factors! Typically, working straight to the target and mashing “E” (the Use key) will flip the stronghold, magically delete all of the enemies who have been taking pictures at you, and fill the place with a bunch of Actual People.
My kingdom for a patch
These are design points. Way more worrisome are a number of technical issues and basic jankery. A partial record, over my fifteen hours:
I watched a number of folks fall via the bottom. I fell via the bottom. I received caught on surroundings. I received caught in surroundings. I noticed a cache of things float in midair. The parkour system usually fails to reply until you hit the proper angle, or the animation will break and also you’ll see the digicam quickly shift up and down because it will get caught on ledges and ceilings.
The body price is inconsistent, at finest. Texture-streaming and autosaving trigger the sport to freeze for upwards of a second at a time, working off a 7200 RPM laborious drive. The load instances themselves are extremely lengthy. In optimum moments, I used to be fortunate to hit 60 frames per second at 1080p on a GeForce GTX 980 Ti (maxed out).
And this might be fantastic if the sport have been unilaterally attractive, however it’s not. Generally it seems like the attractive CryEngine sport I count on. Different instances it seems like somebody ported the sport to the Xbox 360. Persons are particularly awkward, with stiff animations and poor lip-syncing. Additionally, they have an inclination to face just one path when talking, and if you happen to stroll behind them they don’t hassle to show round. They’ll simply hold chatting with the empty room. And typically their neck stretches out like a bizarre snake-creature is hidden inside.
One among my saves received corrupted early on for causes unknown, and it price me half an hour of progress. I watched a dude hit a USPS mailbox with a baseball bat, which was notably hilarious to me for some purpose. And this occurred:
Sure, it’s a truck getting stymied by a two-inch impediment. Value noting: These are simply the 2 repetitions I might slot in a reasonably-sized Giphy. This went on for upwards of a minute. There are a number of escort missions and the poor AI actually shines, with no matter you’re escorting routinely encountering pathfinding points and infrequently refusing to maneuver in any respect.
Okay, again to story
And all of it resolves in probably the most absurd, cartoon-villain trend. Dialogue was hit-and-miss for a lot of the sport, with the Physician giving hamfisted “Violence isn’t the reply!” speeches each rattling time he confirmed up—he even references Martin Luther King at one level with one thing alongside the traces of “There’s one other means! A non-violent means! I’ve a dream, you understand?” Hell, the Koreans are actually killing folks on the street and he’ll ship a textual content message saying “Keep in mind: The KPA are folks too.” Not the fitting time, Doc.
However all of that pales compared to the ending, which rushes via a dozen plot factors, conjures a number of deus ex machinas out of the air, and comes fairly near eclipsing the “Press X to hide in mass grave” grimdark absurdity of the primary sport. The final ten minutes left me in awe, and never in a great way.
The unhappy factor is: The core of the sport is superb. The core of the story is superb. The alt-history setting is robust, the concept of combating a conflict from the shadows—sure, give me extra of that. It’s what drew me to Crytek’s preliminary presentation again at E3 2014. Like the unique Homefront, you need it to work. You need it to offer a compelling counterpoint to the rah-rah-fighter-jet-flyover bravado of Name of Obligation and Battlefield. You need to see Homefront: The Revolution obtain what it’s clearly aspiring to attain.
But it surely’s so technically janky that each one it manages is farce, its most critical moments undercut by unintentional hilarity. Living proof: In direction of the tip, the sport requested me to resolve whether or not a sure character ought to dwell together with his guilt or be executed. I killed him, and what ought to have been a critical second of reflection turned foolish when the sport determined to floor the warning it makes use of each time you unintentionally kill an allied NPC—“CIVILIAN KILLED!”
Homefront: The Revolution finally ends up a extra becoming sequel than I feel anybody might’ve predicted. Like its predecessor, it is a kludged-together mish-mash of classy design concepts from different, higher video games, glued to a narrative that punches far above its weight and aspires to one thing a lot larger.
It’s a disgrace the completed product seems like a work-in-progress, as a result of there’s a lot to need to love right here. I simply can’t.