Homefront was at the top of GameGuide’s most anticipated list for the year, so to say that we awaited it with some anticipation would be an understatement.  But then due to the fact that we’re a New Zealand based website, the review copies came late and I’d already heard the mix buzz coming out of America, so mixed in-fact that it was being blamed for the slump in THQ’s stock value.

Anticipation was replaced with uncertainty and a little worry.

Homefront had shown a lot of promise when were first set eyes on it last year, instantly reminding me of one of my favourite childhood films, Red Dawn.  Since then I’ve seen Tomorrow When The War Began and started making my way through the Tomorrow series of novels.

Homefront was going to be epic.  But then, as I’ve just mentioned the mixed early buzz.

However, when the game finally arrived on my desk, I got a little excited.  Ok, I got a lot excited.

Then I got home and threw it in the XBox and played it for about an hour.  That’s right, about an hour.  Rather than play it till the early hours of the morning I  played it for about an hour.  It was to be honest, a little disappointing.  It’ll get better tomorrow night when I play it again I told myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, Homefront isn’t a terrible game, it’s just a huge disappointment for me, when I had such high hopes for the game.  To start with, I finished Homefront the next evening.  It is an incredibly short game, even by today’s FPS standards.  Then there’s the graphics.  Nothing wrong with them per-say, but no WOW factor either.  Homefront was turning out to be a rather run of the mill affair.  In one part, where you have to communicate with another character you’ll notice that his face hasn’t been texture mapped – it’s like someone took a blowtorch to his face and made it all smooth and shiny.  This for a character that you HAVE to interact with to continue the story!  What was THQ thinking?

And it gets worse.

The one thing that made Medal of Honor frustrating was the ‘you follow me or you’ll end up waiting for me’ mechanics of the game.  You had to follow, or wait for you computer controlled team mates to continue along the linear game path.  Homefront seems to have taken this approach, and then some.  Not only do you have to follow your fellow freedom fighting buddies, but quite often you’ll find yourself standing around waiting for them to remember what they are supposed to be doing.  It’s bloody frustrating.  And it gets worse.  It you have to climb a ladder, jump down a hole or bury yourself under a pile of dead bodies, not only do you have to wait for your entire team to go before you, but you can’t just follow then straight away.  You have to approach the ladder/hole/pile of dead bodies a little while after your team mate or else you won’t bet the ‘press the blue button’ prompt and you’ll be stuck waiting fro eternity.

Then there was the time when I had to follow my team mate up the stairs to the roof, she ran on ahead and I attempted to run after her, but for some reason, the ability to run had been switched off, and the only reason for this that I could figure out was to give her time to be breaking the neck of a guard by the time I got to the door to the roof.

The gameplay was linear to the extreme, and at times repetitive.

It was however, when all was said and done, an enjoyable and interesting game, but mainly because of the story-line.  It’s a pity THQ couldn’t have spent a little more time polishing it, re-addressing a few of the game-play mechanics and fixing the horrendous collision detection.

However, Homefront is more than just it’s far too short, five hour single player campaign.  As with any FPS these days, it has an online component.  It’s here that Homefront really begins to shine.  Feeling more like Bad Company 2 than Call of Duty, but without the destructible environments, Homefront’s multiplayer is fun.

It suffers from a lack of maps and game modes, and even suffers from the handicap system where different modes aren’t available until you’ve reached a certain level, meaning you are forced to start life with a sniper  rifle (if that’s you thing) that just won’t perform one shot kills.  And really, what is the point of a sniper rile if it won’t drop a guy running across between two buildings?

On the flip side there is a fair amount of customisation and a scoring system that gives you more options as the game progresses that will see a team of snipers, who’ve been happily picking off enemy players for most of the game, sent running for cover as the enemy unlock some air-support.

The maps, though limited in number are finely crafted and demand to be explored, and if THQ are really serious about Homefornt, they’ll most likely release more maps soon – and hopefully they’ll release then for  free as a way of apology for the half baked and way too short single player campaign.

Homefront is definitely worth renting, just to experience the story-line.  The multiplayer however requires an online pass – which comes with the retail version – which will no doubt have already been used if you do rent, requiring that you purchase one if you want to try it out.

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