Violence with consequence. Killing with emotion. Shooting with soul.
Not phrases that immediately jump to mind when you're thinking of classic FPS campaigns over the years. From Doom to CoD, Quake to Half-Life, we've become used to burying bullets in all sorts of grisly foes... and simply moving on.
THQ and Kaos Studio's Homefront is looking to change all that, by making you take stock of your slaughter. Punctuated by shocking moments of human tragedy, Homefront turns the sensitivity up to 11 - as we witnessed in our hands-on preview of the title's single-player mode last year.
Set in 2027, after a fictional invasion of the US by a united Korea, the game pits you as part of the resistance. Its mix of domestic environments with military might threatens to make Homefront really stand out from the crowd - couple with Kaos's determination to ensure you avoid the "massacre fatigue" experienced in other shooters.
We caught up with the studio's community manager Jeremy Greiner to get the inside track on how the firm hopes to achieve its aims, build a top-drawer multiplayer experience - and emulate the kind of audience dedication enjoyed by the likes of Counter-Strike.
One thing that really stands out in Homefront is the environments - the juxtaposition between the mayhem and the mundane suburbia...
Right, that's all intentional. It's all about bringing you into the fiction and narrative. We want to make you feel immersed. That's why the opening sequence [in which you witness a girl's parents murdered in front of her] isn't a cut-scene; it's why you can control the camera. If there were a cut-scene in this game, I'd consider it like a commercial in a movie. Cut-scenes can strip you right out of the reality a game has created, then throw you back in. It's not seamless.
The detail to the 'war torn America' is definitely intentional, it's to bring you in and make you feel like you're fighting for survival in a familiar land. The phrase we're using is "the familiar becomes alien", taking the everyday and twisting it.
For example, using a tree house as cover then seeing a kids' teddy bear by your side. The tree house and the back yard once housed a family and now it's a battlefield. That juxtaposition really makes it believable.
Will this 'violence with consequence' really set Homefront apart from the recent slew of other military FPS games - or will players just get used to it and mow down enemies anyway?
We didn't drop anything in for shock value. Everything in the game is there because that's what Homefront is. It's not like a Mario-type game where you go from Ice Planet to Desert Planet, to Jungle Planet. Everything follows the fiction. So as you move from Colorado to the West Coast, that's going to take you from suburbia to more industrial areas, to more city type places.
That's why the game is what it is and it's going to be the same for the multiplayer side. No map is going to be on Planet X with laser beams, that can't happen.
I think it works. At E3 we showed a part of a chapter called 'Oasis', in which you never press the trigger at any time. Everyone really enjoyed it. That means we're telling the story in the right way. If you're not shooting or killing people and players still enjoy it, we know it's working.
We're wrapping that story narrative into a first-person shooter, not the other way round. So you notice the definite crescendos during the gameplay - it's not constantly bombarding you with the same thing. This allows you to pause and gather yourself before you start pressing the trigger again, and to get the story and really immerse yourself in it.