Homefront review:FOLLOW THE LEADER
The 'Follow Connor' prompt is symptomatic of our main gameplay gripe - and another indication of Kaos' lack of confidence in the Modern Warfare generation to work things out for themselves. In each section, you'll have to wait for one of your unlikeable accomplices to bound ahead of you; to open doors or kick over obstacles as you do little but observe.
The power is therefore whipped out of your hands at various crucial moments, which kicks back against the 'Me vs. The World' enjoyment that other layers of Homefront nail so well. Whilst we're talking Half-Life, a 'zoom' feature would not have gone amiss in a game that leans so heavily on inter-character discussions and "My God, look over there" observations.
These blows are somewhat softened by the fact that Homefront is a polished beast, making full use of Unreal Engine's lighting effects. Although a general lack of greenness could be pointed to - we're very much in grey, blacks, bronze and muddy territory here - the whole game is lifted by some deft illumination. Shards of sunlight beam into huts through bulletholes, whilst prominent shadows and a myriad of flame, floodlight and spark effects give the Homefront world a expressive sense of place.
An engrossing, good-looking, sophisticated campaign, then - but not one which will require much time off work. Only you know whether five hours will ever be worth a full-price week one purchase, a rental or an impatient wait for the RRP to drop. We can testify that we've already gone back to Homefront's brightest spots to drink them in once again; and there are plans to Achievement gather at the first opportunity. (Trophies usually centre on getting through a level without losing lives.)
In addition, there's very little 'filler' here. With the exception of one frustratingly unclear section in a dilapidated supermarket, you're given plenty of variety, from top-down helicopter rampages to one very cool passage that has you picking off creepy survivalists to order with a sniper rifle. You'll also get to handle The Goliath - a hefty, titanic remote-controlled vehicle that occasionally steams into an area and allows you to unleashed barnstorming destruction. All that being so, augmenting these with another one or two 45-minute levels of similar quality would have definitely been a fairer deal.
Luckily, Homefront's multiplayer goes a long way to making up for this brevity - and comes highly recommended. If you liked Bad Company 2 or Kaos's own Frontlines: Fuel Of War, you're going to love this. Dedicated servers have kept every trial we've tested steady as a rock, whilst the addition of drones and the ability to spawn into someone else's vehicle keep things fresh and varied.
The game's key multiplayer reward system, Battle Points, push you to seek out high-scoring objectives whilst thinking on your feet. For instance, you might have to spend a few minutes flying a recon drone around to bump up your BP enough to afford a devastating airstrike. Sticking to merely popping bullets in brainstems isn't necessarily the best route to becoming BP-rich - although Killstreaks will notch up your currency at a rate.
Continually adding to your BP stockpile is crucial if you want to afford helicopters, tanks and other monsters of mass destruction - and each sprawling Team Deathmatch map (of which there are a generous variety) almost always hosts a natural escalation into all-out vehicular warfare.
Throw in large scale Ground Control missions, a fierce Skirmish mode and an impromptu priority-based mission generator in the form of the Battle Creator, and Homefront's multiplayer really packs a punch. We'd go so far to say that this is the classiest, best value multiplayer shooter on the market, comfortably bettering both recent CoD monsters and edging ahead of Bad Company 2. It deserves a wide, fully engaged audience.