Review-Homefront: The Revolution (PC)
When Homefront: The Revolution came out, it was a buggy, technical mess for both console and PC players. Poor framerate, poor texture resolution, and terrible AI made what Dambuster Studios claimed to be a great game that much worse. This last weekend Dambuster decided to let players try out Homefront: The Revolution for free after having optimized the game with a large patch months after release. However, the problem with Homefront isn’t just the performance, it’s the game itself.
Homefront: The Revolution places players in an alternate universe where North Korea possesses a tech conglomerate named Apex, whose breakthroughs in technology piqued the interest of the United States into implementing such tech into their own military infrastructure. Of course, North Korea being North Korea, they use this to their advantage and completely shut down all computer systems across the United States, rendering the U.S. illogically and laughably defenseless against a hostile takeover by North Korea in 2025. The main story begins four years later where the main character, Ethan Brody, is working towards reclaiming occupied zones and rallying the people behind a guerrilla resistance as well as saving the resistance’s leader from public execution.
The story is probably the most baseline surface level of Good-versus-Evil I’ve seen in awhile. The Korean People Army’s, or KPA, is completely demonized with no blurred lines and killing them has absolutely no weight. North Korea only has a population of twenty-four million so there’s no way an army a tenth of that size would be able to sustain itself without inductees from the United States to continue occupying such a large country as the U.S. It would have made for an interesting moral quarrel if killing members of the KPA meant you were killing your own countrymen who joined the KPA to protect their own lives and families. A lot of the characters are monotone as well. One character’s obsessed with invoking chaos, one’s a trigger happy gun-nut who cares more about the war against the KPA than saving the people, and the other’s a selfless humanitarian. There’s no middle ground, everyone leans one way or the other.
First off, I didn’t finish the game. I only played six hours worth but that six hours was enough to determine it just wasn’t good enough to finish by the time the free weekend was over.
Abandoning the linear storytelling of the first game, The Revolution decides to take the FarCry route and introduce an open world to the series. Unfortunately, the vastness of the world is completely separated it into zones where players work towards reclaiming areas of said zones by taking over supply depots like the tower synchronization in Assassin’s Creed. Once one zone is reclaimed and the story missions are finished in that area, the game proceeds to the next zone which the player accesses through the underground tunnel. You can return to earlier zones by the same underground tunnels but there’s little to no point if the areas have been retaken and there are no gameplay benefits for returning either. There are side missions but they include menial tasks such as taking photographs of enemies or killing random enemies and the only benefit is the procuring of cash to be spent in the armory. Throughout the six hours I played everything started to become incredibly repetitive where just looking at the map and realizing how far I was from finishing the game felt exhausting.
The game plays like a typical first-person shooter and again has a strong similarity to FarCry where guns are obtained from weapon lockers which serve as shops where you can purchase and upgrade all equipment and each of these is included in every area you occupy. The Revolution introduces an interesting mechanic where guns are interchangeable on the fly. If you want to change your assault rifle into an LMG, you can. If you want to change your crossbow into a flamethrower or blunderbuss, you can do that as well. It’s really unique but it’s terribly implemented when in the heat of battle because you have to wait for the animation to finish before the new weapon can be used.
The worst part of this game however, is in its gunplay. Guns handle poorly and hit detection is few and far between. Attachments can be purchased to increase accuracy and handling but shooting never feels as good as it should be. The worst is when I like to play stealthy in games like this so I’ll choose the crossbow and marksman sniper rifle but the game terribly utilizes bullet drop where you can’t properly measure the correct distance to hit your target.
The game includes a stealth system but it fails in its execution. There are silencers and crossbows but both when fired upon enemies, brings the attention of other enemies, which renders their use completely pointless. There is an indicator that displays when an enemy has caught sight of you and if they linger on you for too long, the meter fills up and they alert others to your presence. Crouching prohibits the meter from filling too fast but in some circumstances, enemies can be aware of you even when you’re completely hidden. Even an upgrade you can later acquire to better enhance stealth has little effect on being seen.
The enemy AI is some of the worst I’ve encountered in a AAA game. Enemies appear out of nowhere, sometimes not even on your radar, and will run straight in front of your bullets. I played the game on the hardest difficulty and dispatching the KPA was almost too easy in some respects. The only difficulty spikes I noticed were when the large airship overhead spots you and a dozen enemies rush in at once to kill you.
There are some good aspects of the game though. When taking over areas within the zones, civilians begin to rise up and fight back against the KPA. Things like this make the world feel alive but moments like these are few and far between. This never happened in the first and third zone, only the second. I stopped the game as soon as I reached the fourth but it seemed like it would have happened there as well. There are giant zeppelin-like airships that hover overhead on the lookout for you, and if spotted, rain down hell upon by calling in reinforcements to your position. It’s thrilling when you hear one overhead and you’re on constant watch of your minimap to make sure it doesn’t spot you.
I did not play the game upon its original release, but the patch I downloaded to better improve performance really makes the game shine. The war-torn parts of Philly look drab and gray but certain areas are full of color and incredible lighting. The cutscenes in particular look great. Character models contain a great amount of detail and subtle nuances, and while these things are a nice touch, they don’t provide enough immersion to look past poor characterization and storytelling. It's not perfect, of course, there is the occasional dresser drawers hovering in the middle of the street.
Dambuster Studios claims that the game is fixed but it’s not just the graphic fidelity that was broken. There are inherent flaws within Homefront’s world and mechanics that bog down what should be a rousing and fist-pumping thrill-ride. Unfortunately, the game is nothing more than a discount FarCry.