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Homefront: The thinking man's Black Ops?

THQ offers up some First Person Sentiment

It's a crisp, dewy morning in Montrose, Colorado - and a wave of heart-warming Americana is sweetening every crevice it kisses.

We're sat in a four-wheeled hunk of American pie - a classic, friendly old yellow school bus. It languidly, merrily chugs down the road, carrying us and protecting us like it has countless blue-eyed, gap-toothed youngsters over the years.

Zoom

Out of our window, a bygone tourist slideshow for The Land Of The Free whizzes past.

The entire street points to more innocent times; when Jerry Lee Lewis poured from the radio, pink Chevrolets brightened the sidewalks and the local bowling lane was the most happening joint in town.

Populating the quaint retail awnings and proud, monstrous drive-in parks are evocative hallmarks of America's post-war commercial awakening.

A time-honoured diner, EAT, instantly twists our thoughts towards plastic moulded seats, squelchy, sugary pancakes and steaming cups of Joe.

Over the road, Marx Drug Store boasts all of the best remedies for what ails you; whilst Sun West Health Foods is stocked to the brim with only the most wholesome produce. People say a single chew of their raisins will immediately whisk you away to the sun-drenched vineyards of ever-pleasant California.

And what's this? A young Yankee couple locked in a tight cherubic embrace. Cuddling by a red brick wall, they're pretty as a picture - embodying a loving snapshot of the American dream.

But with just two words, this charming, sentimental tableau shatters - with sickening force.

"Don't look!"

Our bus halts, offering enough pause for us to stare more intently at this cornball canvas; to begin to spot its dilapidated condition, and its horrifying imperfections.

The female, clasped firm by her husband, is screaming at her child. She's weeping uncontrollably, arms desperately flailing in the misty morning air.

Stood just a couple of feet ahead of her, a shivering, elfin little boy; every bit as bemused as he is shaken.

"Please! Please! Don't look!"

What are mummy and daddy being so silly? Who is that man in the jacket? He looks smart! But I'm getting cross with him poking me.

Zoom

His eyes are obscured by podgy fingers, but he can still witness enough. Enough to see that the smart man has raised his gun to shoulder height. Enough to see a volley of bullets puncture his targets' foreheads, shards of skull and globules of brain splattering on the tarmac around his tiny feet. Enough to see his parents brutally murdered in front of his eyes.

Welcome to the world of Homefront. Before our campaign demo disk is even whirring in the tray, THQ has told us that nothing in the game has been included "for shock value".

It's an assurance that's initially hard to swallow. But the mechanical slaughter of such a harmless, happy family resonates like little we've ever witnessed in a video game before. It's more than sheer stimulation; it's sympathy, too.

How does Homefront draw such a humanistic response? Perhaps it's because there's no intermission to grieve; no poignant lofted camera or stirring strings. The victims simply drop into a neat pile as their now wailing child scampers towards them, collapsing to cuddle the rapidly-cooling cadavers of her protectors.

You care about these people, their daughter, their lives. This offenseless trio have become victim to an inexplicable, gut-churning, brutal injustice. And you really, really want to do something about it.

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