If there’s one thing Homefront: The Revolution gets right, it’s making players feel like an actual rebel warrior. Whether engaged in open combat or skulking through populated “yellow” zones, you’ll indulge in various guerrilla activities in your attempts to undermine the KPA.
But who exactly are the KPA? Well, for those who didn’t get to play THQ’s big budget shooter, the original Homefront centred around the invasion of America at the hands of the Korean People’s Army. Set in an alternate depiction of today’s world, Korea has long been top dog when it comes to pioneering technologies.
A brief cinematic prologue shows the nation’s rise to technological dominance over the last fifty years. Whether it’s smartphones, tablets, or other revolutionary pieces of consumer tech, Korea was there first and, as a result, became an economic powerhouse. Everything’s going well before its leading corporation, Apex, decides to expand into the manufacturing of weapons. With wars being fought in the Middle East, Korea tightens it hold on the international economy as more and more weapons are sold. It isn’t long before the KPA finds itself in the perfect position for global domination.
Zip ahead to the year 2029 and the United States lies in ruin. Downtrodden and with no means of fighting back, cities are quickly overrun as the KPA set about rebuilding the country to suit its own ideals. Although some are all too happy to bend the knee, others continue to fight back against their oppressors. Still, the insurmountable odds mean that there are only small pockets of resistance to be found.
As Ethan Brady – The Revolution’s silent, nondescript protagonist – your mission is not only to liberate the city of Philadelphia but also the freedom of its enthralled populace. In order to win over hearts and minds, you’ll need to carry out a variety of tasks dotted around Homefront’s semi-open world. These include jobs and side missions like broadcasting anti-KPA propaganda or taking out snipers who have been terrorising districts.
What really captures that feeling of being a rebel fighter are the various tactics available in combat scenarios. Aside from much larger environments to play in, Homefront now employs a stealth and alert system, allowing players to flee when things get too hairy. These same systems also work incredibly well for hit and run attacks. Although the game never forces you to adopt this playstyle, there’s a great amount of satisfaction to be had in ambushing mobs of enemies before hightailing it out of the hot zone.
Adding to this dynamic is the change of setting when moving between yellow and red zones. The red zone is considered a hostile no man’s land, the yellow zones are mainly occupied by citizens, constantly monitored by KPA patrols. Although there are plenty of escape routes on hand, you’ll often find yourself moving much slower, using cover to break the line of sight between you and any guards roaming within the area.
The world has a Far Cry-like vibe to it, albeit one with much of the exposition and distance between objectives cut out. If you’re determined and stay just below the KPA’s radar, you can clear one outpost or side objective after another, ploughing your way through half a dozen in quick succession. Unfortunately, that density can mean bumping into the same pockets of civilians and KPA soldiers whenever circling a few blocks.
With a few chapters in the campaign to go, we’re not yet in a position to say whether the story is the perfect companion to Homefront’s newly adopted approach to gameplay. Still, there exists a patchwork of features that help sell The Revolution’s grittier, guerilla focus, weapons and crafting being two of them.
Wherever you go in Philadelphia, there’s plenty of loot to be had, whether rummaging through drawers or picking at the bodies of fallen soldiers. Money, crafting components, and tech points will gradually accrue, unlocking an impressive number of loadout options for players to mess around with.
Chief among these are the modified weapons. As a first person shooter with a contemporary world setting, the starting arsenal is fairly typical with a shotgun here and an assault rifle there. What’s great, however, is the ability to tack on a variety of attachments during play. Although fitting scopes, silencers, and grips is nothing new, each weapon type can also transform into two other variants. The battle rifle, for instance, can be snapped into familiar long-range sniper, while the shotgun morphs into a flame-belching cannon.
A lot of that carries over to the cooperative multiplayer, but we’ve had to wait until the game’s launch in order to see how it holds up. We’re also wary of the game’s frame rate on PS4, which regularly dipped below 30fps and could drop to near unplayable levels at times, but could be alleviated by the day one patch. Homefront succeeds in a capturing the vibe of guerilla warfare, but there’s a lot more to discuss when we get to our full review later this week.