|The Streets of Philadelphia|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Dambuster Studios
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Release Date: 20 May 2016
- Time played: 16.4 hours
What is itDambuster Studios actually has a long history as many of its employees originally worked for a company called Crytek UK which in turn used to be called Free Radical Design. Based in Nottingham, England, Free Radical Design was formed in 1999 and are best known for the first-person shooter series TimeSplitters. The games were critically acclaimed but despite the company's earlier successes, cancellation of Star Wars: Battlefront III (which they were developing) as well as the poor reception of their 2008 title Haze resulted in Free Radical Design going bankrupt. Many employees were let go but German developer Crytek purchased the company soon after.
After being rebranded Crytek UK, the remains of Free Radical Design focused on developing Crysis titles until 2014 when the company again experienced financial difficulties. Crytek would eventually sell the IP of the Homefront series to Koch Media (parent company of publisher Deep Silver) and Crytek UK's employees were transferred to Dambuster Studios.
Homefront: The Revolution is a First Person Shooter with a setting similar to the 1984 movie "Red Dawn" where the United States is occupied by the Soviet Union and its allies; in the case of Homefront: The Revolution however, the occupying power is North Korea. You play the role of Ethan Brady, a new recruit for the resistance movement in Philadelphia. The goal of the game is to eliminate the North Korean presence from the city by inciting its population to revolt by targeting key facilities and personnel.
The game had a good premise and seemed promising enough for our blog to feature the game on our 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2016 list. When the game was finally released in May 2016 however, reviews of the game were mixed: the game holds a Metascore of 54 on Metacritic indicating "mixed or average reviews" and the rating is worse among Metacritic users with a User Score of 3.9 based on 352 ratings. On Steam, the score is similar to Metacritic's Metascore with 59% of the 7,307 Steam user reviews rating the game as positive, which gives it a rating of "Mixed".
How I got itChoicest Games contributor Luke suggested I take a look at the game as part of my Pile of Shame Initiative which is why I ended up playing the game sooner rather than later. To answer why I already had the game in my library, I actually got it as a birthday present last year along with Life is Strange: Before the Storm and 8-Bit Armies. A combination of the game being heavily discounted, my friend recommending it, the blog having previously recommended it and me having a soft spot for "Red Dawn" scenario computer games (you can blame games like Red Alert 2 for that) meant that me playing this game was, as Thanos says, "inevitable".
I started playing the game in June 2019.
|Sometimes you'll need to use tools like this RC car to unlock new areas|
What I like:
Red Dawn settingAt a high level, I like the "Red Dawn" premise and the game definitely shows you how brutal an occupying power; the aftermath of torture can be quite unsettling, which is exactly what you'd expect.
ImmersionWhile you play the game, there's always radio chatter playing in the background which helps immerse you into the game. Also, getting spotted by the North Korean airships is a chilling experience, especially when they make that "foghorn" noise: it's almost reminiscent of the Fighting Machines in Steven Spielberg's 2005 War of the Worlds movie.
Decent GraphicsWhen you consider this game was released in 2016, the graphics are actually quite impressive but I guess that's what happens when you use top-of-the-line graphics engines such as the CryEngine.
Easiest difficulty can still be a challengeI chose to play the game on the easiest difficulty setting and while there are many encounters that are quite easy, the game does punish you if you're too gung-ho about killing North Korean soldiers especially near their outposts or usual patrol routes: this usually results in about 20 soldiers converging on your position so if you don't have a dumpster to run to nearby (in order to hide and reduce the "alarm" level) it could easily be game over.
Basic puzzle solvingIn the Far Cry, Assassin's Creed and Tomb Raider games, you'd often have to climb certain structures in order to unlock new areas and it'd often be a puzzle of sorts as you figured out the right path up the tower. Homefront: The Revolution has adopted a similar mechanic except instead it doesn't always involve climbing towers but finding ways to unlock doors instead. For example, one time in order to get to a radio room I had to navigate a remote control car strapped with explosives through a small crack in order to destroy a padlocked door. While it's a very primitive form of puzzle solving, I'm kind of glad it's in the game. It's not always about brute strength.
TimeSplitters 2Wha? A game within a game? Seems like you can play a couple of levels of the classic console game called TimeSplitters 2 if you happen to interact with an arcade machine in the Restricted Zone. Neat.
Steam Achievements and Trading CardsThe game has 76 Steam Achievements you can work towards and 9 Steam Trading Cards to collect.
|You'll sometimes come across graphical glitches like the one below|
What I dislike:
Usual tropesWhile I do like the "Red Dawn" premise, as mentioned earlier, the game unfortunately falls upon a lot of usual tropes in this genre such as the arguing back and forth between the doctor and the rest of the team about whether they're truly saving lives or causing things to be worse by having a revolution in the first place. In fact, some characters in the game are so obviously shady that I wasn't surprised at all when the inevitable betrayal occurs later on in the game..
Long load timesThe game sometimes takes a while to load levels and I'm not quite sure why for a game that is three years old.
Graphical glitchesThe game contains the occasional graphical glitch such as assault rifles that float in mid-air and graffiti that disappears and reappears depending on which angle you stare at a wall.
Hamstrung when using the stealthy approachI tried multiple times to take a stealthy approach in this game and while it can work in certain situations, I think you're better off giving up on the idea altogether since when it comes to particular storyline missions, you'll often be forced into killing waves of enemies converging on your position. Unless you're an exceptional sniper that never misses a shot or you're a ninja that can engage enemies with a crossbow at close range, you're going to find it tough taking down multiple enemies quickly with stealthy and/or slow-firing weapons. A light machine gun works much better (which is what I ended up predominantly using for the last levels in the game).
It's a shame, since it isn't the first time I've seen it before: Alpha Protocol is also guilty of this.
Dumb AIThe AI aren't too bright in this game and I'm mainly talking about friendly AI! Fellow Resistance fighters have a habit of walking into fire pits and immolating themselves and in one mission when you have a Goliath tank following you around, it often gets stuck on terrain which means you'll often have to leave the geographically challenged vehicle behind while you take out enemies on your own.
Side quests are shallowI soon got tired of completing jobs off the bulletin board since they seemed pretty shallow and were really only a means of being rewarded with cash in order to purchase upgrades (and you really don't need to since you'll eventually gain enough cash through the main campaign to unlock everything anyway).
BugsI rarely encountered game-breaking bugs although there was one time I was unable to completely liberate a sector because the challenge involved eliminating a certain number of snipers. After eliminating most of them there was only one sniper left but she had perched herself behind a balcony several stories up. She never popped her head up and since there was no line of sight to her while she hid behind the balcony, it was impossible for me to complete the objective! Frustrating!
Score – 7/10 (Good)If you're on the hunt for a decent-looking, immersive First Person Shooter with a "Red Dawn" setting, then Homefront: The Revolution is up to the challenge. However, you will have to put up with dumb AI and the occasional bug or graphical glitch. The plot isn't anything cerebral either and what's worst of all is that adopting a stealthy approach seems to be futile in this game, especially during the main campaign missions.
Is the game worth $44.95 AUD?: Yes. The game does have its flaws, occasional bugs and it isn't exactly a stand-out title, but it's fairly competent in every other regard and has relatively good production values when it comes to the graphics, voice acting, audio and soundtrack which warrants paying a bit extra. If it seems like too much, the game often goes on sale for less.
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[ LINK: Official Homefront: The Revolution Website ]