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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2011

Near-future shooter hits close to home

BY TOM FISHER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Where are we heading right now as a society? What lies in our path as we deal with soaring gas prices, global upheaval, and a crumbling economy both domestically and around the world?

There are no real answers when talking about the future, only speculation. So that is exactly what THQ did with the release of its newest shooter, Homefront.

Just as the name implies, the story follows an arc that deals with the foreign occupation of American soil in the very near future.

The abridged version reads like this: Our government is lame, all of the above scenarios combine to make a perfect storm that leaves the United States in chaos, and crazy-haircut guy in Korea has died leaving everything to his equally crazy son who unites the Koreas under his banner and together they step in to fill the power void left by our own demise. First order of business is take over the United States.

They invade in a Red Dawn-style campaign that forces us to deal with a scenario a little too close to home for some. A nuclear wasteland seems so distant and fantastical sometimes, but, in the game, being invaded is almost tangible.

We start the game with other captives on a bus ride through town playing witness to beatings and bloodshed, including one execution scene in particular that will make you cringe. When you are liberated by a rebel faction, you join the fight and it escalates from there.

The game plays similar to other shooters such as Call of Duty, which means it's fun. However, it lacks any sort of depth as far as what it offers beyond the story mode or online play. And the story mode, although well done, only lasts about five to six hours even for someone who doesn't play shooters often. It could have benefited from some sort of sub-campaign structure or character design and development. At the very least they should have made it last longer.

The grade goes up a few notches with the online play. There are two modes offered and neither is anything new. Ground Control is based on holding a line and the team to hold it the longest wins. Team Deathmatch is a slaughter fest wherein the objective is to kill as many enemies as possible before the timer runs out.

There's also a Battle Commander mode where a computer commander sets up objectives and gives points for completing tasks. As you start to collect more points the other team's commander will put out a points bounty on your head and his team will go out of its way to hunt you down and collect. Even though the depth in online play isn't vast it offers many more hours of playtime than the story mode.

The graphics and audio are above average but not the best available and it's the same with the cut scene animations. They're not bad but maybe a little last generation.

The lack of depth with Homefront is a problem THQ needs to address before the sequel -- and there will be a sequel. All the details were there but I was left wanting more way too soon. If not for the online play this game probably would see the darkness of a storage box for most gamers. If you will only play it on the console, rent it, but buy it if you want a surprisingly fun online shooter.

Contact Tom Fisher at tfisher@theblade.com.



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