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Basic Information:

Developer: KAOS Studios
Publisher: THQ
North American Release Date: March 15, 2011
European Release Date: March 18, 2011
Trophies: 33 Bronze, 5 Silver, 3 Gold, 1 Platinum


KAOS Studios’ story-driven first-person-shooter Homefront has certainly had an interesting journey on its way to store shelves. Appearing from absolutely nowhere with a tantalizing trailer with the tagline “Home is Where the War Is” at E3 2010, Homefront was one of the hot topics of last year's show and immediately became the bastion of THQ’s fiscal release calendar. Despite a number of controversies concerning the game’s setting and vehement North Korean antagonism, Homefront has finally released, and expectations are markedly high. Can the relatively unknown KAOS Studios make an indelible mark on the FPS genre with Homefront, or does this game make it improper pro patria mori?


Although Homefront attempts to carve its own niche in the FPS genre by laying the atmosphere on thick, its actual mechanics do little to stray from the genre’s norm. Thankfully, substance prevails over innovation as Homefront presents an unoriginal yet visceral gameplay package in both the singleplayer and multiplayer components.

All of the genre’s staples are present and at attention: R1 to fire, L1 to trigger the ADS, R2 to throw a grenade, and so on. It’s safe to say that if you've ever played an FPS before, you'll feel right at home with Homefront (pun intended) from the very first chapter. Mobility is rather quick, as sprinting from cover to cover is simple and swift. Each weapon packs quite a punch, and it’s a joy to rip through enemies with any of the available armaments. But despite the solid mechanics, one can’t help but feel a serious case of déjà vu when playing through the campaign or battling it out online.

KAOS Studios has a considerable amount of experience with vehicle-based multiplayer from its previous title Frontlines: Fuel of War, and vehicle combat once again plays a pivotal role in the studio's sophomore effort. For the first few chapters, the Goliath Armored Personal Carrier is an invaluable asset to the ragtag team. While the player never actually hops into the cockpit of the Goliath (for it is AI controlled), the behemoth can be commanded around the battlefield by setting specific targets for it to destroy. It’s a simple yet novel concept that helps enliven the game’s exposition.

The Goliath can do some damage.

Later on,the game introduces a death-dealing helicopter-based level, and the controls are some of the best for a helicopter that I have ever laid my hands on. Finally- a console game without a ridiculously convoluted helicopter control scheme! It’s a refreshing thought. Naturally, vehicles in multiplayer share the same successes- it’s a breeze to switch between different seats, and each vehicle (from tank to chopper) is a blast to use.

While Homefront’s gameplay might lack the polish and luster of other genre mainstays, its workmanlike approach and adherence to standards is ultimately to its benefit.


Homefront’s overall premise is certainly a chilling one. Over the past couple of decades, the Middle East has destroyed itself from the inside out, causing a massive dearth of oil and consequently sending the United States into an inescapable economic tailspin. Meanwhile, the death of Kim Jong-Il has unified the once-feeble nation of North Korea under Kim Jong-Un, a strong-willed demagogue whose manipulative ideals eventually consolidate the entire Asian continent under his rule. One thing leads to another, and eventually the American populace awakens one morning to a terrifying scene of death and destruction. Scary indeed.

Not exactly better than your crappy 9-to-5.

You are Robert Jacobs, an ex-Air Force pilot with (apparently) significant ground combat experience that is escorted out of his Colorado home by Korean forces to be “re-educated” in Alaska. After a heart-wrenching display of the terrors that are synonymous with military occupation, Jacobs is busted out of his detention bus by two local Resistance fighters. A brief exchange is made, Jacobs is notified of his important role in the Resistance’s plans to aid the scattered U.S. military, and the narrative kicks off from there.

Though the obvious “fight for freedom” motivation is relentlessly pushed by the game’s all-encompassing atmosphere, Homefront’s actual narrative does a poor job of connecting the player to the Resistance and banks completely on the notion of the player’s patriotism. The script from John Milius (Apocalypse Now) seems phoned in, as most of the script is basic action movie fare that never elevates itself above anything else in an already narrative-starved genre. Case in point: I had forgotten the names of the ever-present supporting characters (Rianna and Connor) mere minutes after the credits had rolled. Sadly, Homefront’s poor narrative is a massive disappointment, especially because it seems as if the developers focused much more on the enticing premise than the game’s tale itself.

What are these guys' names again?

Adding insult to injury is the length of Homefront’s single player campaign, which clocked in for me at exactly 4 hours and 15 minutes on the “Hard” difficulty setting. Although the genre rarely sees games that rival the length of Half-Life 2 nowadays, this figure is absolutely inexcusable, especially after the half-assed ending that sets up an inevitable sequel (which is already well into development). Thankfully, what little is here is a high-octane, atmospheric ride that is very well paced; anything otherwise would have labeled Homefront’s campaign as a failure.

KAOS Studios’ lack of experience in the singleplayer arena is readily apparent with Homefront; despite a rigorous pace, almost everything here is amateurish and somewhat rough around the edges.


Thank goodness for the multiplayer, component, which carries the day and places KAOS Studios’ multiplayer pedigree on full display (bugs, connection issues and server kinks notwithstanding).

Homefront’s major innovation on the multiplayer front is its aptly named “Battle Points” system, which allows the player to accrue points via kills and captures that can be used in-game on a number of cool multiplayer bonuses. After gaining enough points, the player can call in a number of helpful power-ups (such as a personal UAV, a Drone, a Flak Jacket, a Predator, etc.) or have the ability to hop into any of the 5 available vehicles before a spawn. While the Battle Point system is certainly an amalgamation of the score systems of many different multiplayer shooters of this era (most notably Battlefield and Medal of Honor), it innovates just enough to help Homefront obtain an identity in an already crowded field.

There are six multiplayer options to select from the main menu: Ground Control, Team Deathmatch, Skirmish (a smaller variant that alternates the first two options), and Commander variants of these three modes. While Base Control is reminiscent of Battlefield’s Conquest mode and champions vehicular combat, Team Deathmatch plays exactly as it sounds. Each mode can accommodate up to 32 players (16 a side), and the maps are more than large enough to handle the task. The modes may be standard fare, but the fun skirmishes do more than enough to forget about the lack of originality.

If this looks familiar, that's because it probably is.

There are problems, however. Homefront sports only 7 maps from the outset, a disappointingly miniscule number. Furthermore, there are only 13 total guns available for the player to use throughout his multiplayer progression. THIRTEEN. One shotgun, two sniper rifles, and one submachine gun are just not going to cut it in such a competitive genre in this day and age. Finally, there are a tad too many server issues for my liking, as connecting to a decent match is needlessly difficult sometimes and completely painless during others.

A lack of variation and some connection bugs aside, Homefront sports a complete multiplayer package that complements the gameplay well and may just hook some players away from the normal FPS standbys.


Homefront’s overzealous usage of heavy atmosphere is the solitary reason to play through the game’s otherwise mediocre singleplayer campaign, and will ultimately define its presence in the industry in the years to come. It is apparent from the outset that this post-occupation America is scarily real, and the effects of the Korean invasion of suburbia repeatedly left me in awe. The ubiquitous product placements throughout the game are not to the game’s detriment- rather, they are a reminder of what the country has lost. The opening cinematic itself (however brief it may be) is by far one of the most haunting and memorable video game expositions of this generation. Simply put, Homefront's campaign is truly a sight to behold.

Home is where it hits the hardest.

The visuals, though, are obviously dated and lag pretty far behind the game’s atmospheric strength. The entire visual presentation has a jaggy, uneven aesthetic that was the generation's standard a couple of years ago. Nowadays, it is impossible to not compare Homefront to the competition as the number of astounding FPS' grows rapidly (Call of Duty, Killzone, Crysis 2, the list goes on). As a result, the game pales in comparison, and for good reason. Simply put, the visuals in Homefront are merely average when separated from the moody setting.

Homefront’s audio package fares similarly to that of its visuals: while not bad, the sound is nothing special. The voice work of the main characters hits all of the right notes, but cannot save the tepid script that plagued the single player campaign. While the weapon sounds and explosions are a definite high point of the package, the orchestral soundtrack lacks the punch it needs and turns out to be completely forgettable.


Homefront’s Platinum Trophy is long. And I mean LONG. Expect well over 100 hours of play (plus a negligible amount of time for singleplayer) before the platinum is yours. Fortunately, I consider that number fair enough to warrant an honest attempt sometime this summer, as I think that the multiplayer is the game’s strongest aspect.

Closing Thoughts

Yes, Homefront may be a mild disappointment. KAOS Studios’ grand first foray into the singleplayer FPS scene is tarnished by a weak script, a criminally short singleplayer offering, and a commonplace presentation. But by no means does this indicate that you shouldn’t check out Homefront. The campaign, while short and severely lacking in narrative punch, is an atmospheric venture into the very throes of militant-occupied Middle America that deserves a look on its own. And the multiplayer, while relatively unoriginal, is surprisingly fun and could keep even the most ardent of FPS veterans hooked. It may not be the next Call of Duty killer, but Homefront does just enough differently to warrant a fleeting look from any FPS lover.


Gameplay: 7.0/10

Homefront plays exactly like you’d expect it to. Fortunately, the game runs well and the lack of originality isn’t a huge issue.

Singleplayer: 6.0/10

The atmosphere saves this one. A well-paced, atmospheric campaign with a surprisingly unremarkable story and an insultingly short duration.

Multiplayer: 8.0/10

This is where the longevity is. Lots of borrowed elements, but the Battle Points and large maps carve a niche for Homefront, even if that niche is rather small.

Technical: 7.5/10

Dated visuals and an average sound design are boosted by a remarkable sense of atmosphere throughout the campaign.

Overall: 7.0/10- GOOD