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Homefront multiplayer: Fresh enough to dethrone CoD?

Hands-on: We play by the numbers in Kaos Studios' new shooter...

I could have been a contender.

I could have been a hero of the frontline; a gung-ho beast whose clattering assault rifle was the last thing that ever flashed in my enemy's eyes.

I could have been a legendary marksman, perched on high in my sniper's nest, popping craniums from distance like a surgeon of the battlefield.

But I am neither of those things. I'm tits-down in a mossy, dank cement pipe, mud in my face and woodlice wriggling in my hair. I'm panic-stricken, but I've dodged the heat of the battle, instead rather pathetically sheltering on the outskirts of warfare.

Zoom

I am as far away from danger as Homefront will allow me to be. Call me a coward. Call me a bitch. But don't you dare call me a camper.

My US allies, gunning down our ruthless Korean captors, are the ones in the thick of the action, risking their lives and racking up the killstreaks. They deserve the plaudits, the medals and the whoops. But make no mistake. I am the driving force behind our victory.

My body hunkered down in no-man's land, I've taken control of a remote flying recon drone. Whizzing high above the battlefield, I'm marking enemies out on all sides - their oh-so-clever hiding skills demolished by a single camera snap. When I've done my work, they're nothing but a big red diamond, one which screams: "Coo-eee! Over here! Kill me first! Me!"

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. And it doesn't make me a combat-shy coward or a mere assistant to carnage; my motivation for such a risk-averse strategy is neither fear or community spirit.

With each enemy I 'out' via my diamonds'o'death, I'm racking up Battle Points (BP), the first of two key gameplay touches that Kaos Studios hopes will differentiate Homefront from the current kings of online FPS.

As well as getting snap happy with reconnaissance, BP are awarded for kills, assists and - to complete the circle - blowing the buggery out of your opponents' drones.

This temporary currency system can not only be used to bulk up your loadout pre-respawn - with a choice of attack and recon drones, armour, weaponry, enhanced explosives and abilities - but also to buy a range of bulky vehicles.

Only thing is, tanks, trucks helicopters and the like are expensive, posing a strategic spend-or-save conundrum: Do you splash out on mini-upgrades for each respawn, or starve yourself of extras; playing the long game and building up your BP number for a big pay-off?

By wriggling around on my belly like a 'fraidy-cat, I've chosen the latter - and my BP counter is clocking up at a rate. That is, until a particularly fearless opponent comes wandering into my circular enclave, and shoots me in the back of the head.

Zoom

I wasn't hurting no-one, mister. You'll get yours. Extra BP for revenge kills, you know.

Kaos has made every effort to ensure you're rewarded properly for your points tally - no matter how you accrue them. So when you have enough BP for an M1 Abrams tank or Apache helicopter, you hop directly into them.

There's no waiting around vehicular spawn points, only for some mug team-mate from Randomsville USA to dispense some friendly fire before hijacking your rightful ride (as fans of certain other FPS rivals are likely to have experienced).

Sadly, time and unfamiliarity of the Homefront world is against me, so I spread my bets, settling for a double purchase in two separate respawns.

First of all is a Jeep, with which I put paid to a few aimless chumps before a rocket shatters my windscreen - and my life. The second is a class act; an attack drone on tracks which resembles a particularly vicious Short Circuit.

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