“A Losing War”
Developer: Dambuster Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Released: May 17, 2016
Under the rubble of an oppressed Philadelphia in the year 2092, a resistance movement works in the shadows. Their hardships are strangely reminiscent to the tumultuous development that carried Homefront: The Revolution into its launch. Having switched publishers and developers multiple times over the last couple years, Homefront’s reboot seems like a recipe for disaster. Yet, rather than overcoming its unfavorable odds, Homefront: The Revolution is a saddening catastrophe of a game, overflowing with underdeveloped components that can make the experience feel like a complete waste of time. When not being bombarded by inexcusable technical issues, such as disastrous framerate drops, crashes, and dozens of other bugs, you’ll likely be taking part in excruciatingly monotonous missions or engaging in painfully written conversation. It’s hard to find a light at the end of Homefront’s sluggish and sometimes utterly broken tunnel. Unrelenting traits of unpolished design, lifeless acting, and thoroughly mediocre storytelling, remove the motivation to continue fighting, entirely. While a few interesting components make their way into moments of the drab and uninspired campaign, Homefront: The Revolution largely remains a miserable and shattered experience.Joining hands and rising arms, Homefront: The Revolution follows in the footsteps of a rebellion movement forming to take back the streets of Philadelphia. Under the forceful foot of North Korea’s rein, you step into the role of a voiceless insurgent, eager to prove himself in the conflict at hand. Due to the brutal gravity of the situation, resistance forces are constrained to guerrilla tactics. Striking their enemies with violent run-and-gun methods, the revolution is a desperate and outgunned movement with lackluster odds of success. It’s a narrative space with a lot of potential to tap into, painting the United States as the underdogs, oppressed on their own soil. Although, for as initially promising as this premise comes across as, Homefront: The Revolution spends most of its time drowning in repeated, consequential mistakes. Cringeworthy writing, atrocious performances, and a far too pronounced self-serious tone, make Homefront’s story a pleasureless endeavor. The rather lengthy campaign fails to embrace much of any personality on either side of the conflict, resulting in a sense of unfulfilled emptiness that proliferates as you slog through. Aside from an introductory pitch and dire setup that successfully convey a somber mood, Homefront does little to maintain a quality narrative, instead placing repetitive and mundane objectives to complete, front and center.
HOMEFRONT CRUSHES ALL ITS POTENTIAL WITH DISASTROUS, INFURIATING PERFORMANCE
Unfortunately, storytelling and structure issues aren’t where Homefront: The Revolution’s shortcomings stop. Unreliable and unpolished mechanics create for gameplay encounters that never once breakout of their mediocre, and sometimes even terrible, shell. Not helping the matter at hand are the mission tasks, which act to simply push the player from one monotonous objective to another. There are a few exceptions that break this exhausting cycle, such as a prison escape sequence, but they happen so quickly and carry such little weight, it’s almost as if they never occurred. Perhaps if Homefront retained a more forgettable nature, managing to consistently hit the same mediocre beats, the fallout of its presentation wouldn’t be nearly as catastrophic as it is. Alas, the dips in quality are so drastic, it can be hard to forget the dozenth time you’ve fallen through the world, got stuck in an environment, or unintentionally killed yourself thanks to a inexcusable glitch which turns health packs into suicidal consumption packets. The unreliable essence of performing the simplest of tasks while drudging about missions, in fear of the game crashing or breaking a basic objective, becomes an insurmountably tedious process. For instance, I spent upwards of an hour retreading a mission area in search of an objective which failed to initially provide a prompt. Inconveniences along theses lines are commonplace within Homefront: The Revolution’s dull, open world environments.When not being beat over the head with the adversarial display of some of this generation’s more glaring technical complications, Homefront: The Revolution brings a few neat, if not understated, ideas into the mix. Chief to this, Homefront sports a unique weapon conversion system that allows players to tweak their loadouts on-the-fly. Whether you simply want to switch out an attachment, or completely overhaul a standard pistol to an SMG, Homefront’s weapon crafting system acts as the title’s only real sustained high. Nonetheless, putting your custom tailored weapons to work, brings back the unrelenting annoyances briefly left behind when diving into the aforementioned system. Quite simply, there’s no escaping the flaws of Homefront: The Revolution, for nearly every corner you round there’s a blatant example of unpolished design to be found. If you’re lucky enough to avoid falling through the world or having entire enemy convoys spawn out of thin air before you, you’ll at least be familiar with Homefront’s abysmal freezes. Each and every time the game autosaves–which is quite frequently–it completely freezes, sometimes upwards of 15 seconds, completely halting everything on screen. This specific hitch alone can be enough to make Homefront: The Revolution feel like a waste of time, and that’s before even factoring in the myriad of other problems that await.
In addition to Homefront’s half-baked, single-player campaign, there’s a co-op mode which sees up to four players gallivanting about Philadelphia completing various strike missions. Separate from the campaign, Resistance mode offers six missions, loads of unlockables, and a rather large progression system that seems somewhat uncalled for considering the amount of time one will likely spend in the mode. Getting through the missions available shouldn’t take you longer than two hours, provided network issues stay at bay. Resistance mode by no means sweetens the disarrayed package at hand, but it doesn’t actively worsen the project.Conclusion: When Homefront: The Revolution manages to occasionally present itself as something more than a disastrous, broken mess, Dambuster Studios’ efforts can be seen as valiant. The excessive turmoil the project has endured over the course of its disorderly four-year development cycle is apparent, to say the least. However, while what’s been shipped shows dedication from those who had a hand in the creation, the final product stands on shaky ground, threatening to give way at any time. Moments of any substantial quality are reserved for brief glimpses of solid ideas that fade so rapidly, if you blink, you’ll miss them. With the exception of a robust, on the go customization system, Homefront: The Revolution is a paint-by-numbers shooter that flounders in doing much of anything unique or compelling. When it came down to it, I found myself wholeheartedly unengaged in the situation at hand. Considering how heavily the game tends to lean on the exposition of the ensuing hostile scenario, lacking investment in the lore specifically, results with the game’s narrative crumbling in on itself. Crippling technical issues with the potential severity to make the game completely unplayable, are far too pronounced and frequent to pass Homefront: The Revolution off as anything more than an offensively defective and uninteresting enterprise.
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