Homefront the Revolution is the sequel and reimagining to 2011’s FPS game Homefront. It is set in the near future of 2029 Philadelphia in an alternate timeline where North Korea is a super power and have come to “help” an impoverished US. For those that have played the original Homefront, it should be noted that this story and world has very little in common with anything that came prior besides the enemy we will face. It is no longer a linear FPS instead opting for an open world that has a very “Ubisoft” feel to it full of climbing buildings, conquering outposts and tons of collectibles to nab on your way to your objective.
We play as new Resistance member Ethan Brady, a man immediately captured by the NK army, rescued and soon afterward nearly tortured by this allies. Before we are given control of him we will have to set through around 10-15 minutes of cut-scenes and story setup before being allowed to play the game proper. After that delightful introduction with our comrades in arms, they immediately assume you will help them and indeed you will. You’ll quickly become their go to guy for every little thing and get to better know the main characters. They are not worth knowing honestly. The large majority of them are some of the most insufferable characters I’ve seen in recent memory and you’d be wishing you could join the North Koreans instead.
You are immediately introduced to one of this titles most interesting features, the ability to heavily customize your gun on the fly. It is not just simply adding scopes or grips like you may imagine, you could jury rig some rather insane weaponry like a flamethrower out of a crossbow or a firework launcher out of a rifle. You can only carry two weapons and a pistol at any one time but this feature helps to give you a lot more options in combat and out of it. They are not free however, you’ll need to get cash by completing missions or looting objects to sell off to a nearby base. Enemies always carry a measly 5 bucks so it is hardly worth looting them unless you require ammo which they inexplicably always carry the exact type you need.
Aside from weapons, you can also build Molotov cocktails, grenades, firecrackers and a bizarre hacking tool that works more like an EMP. Later on, you can unlock the ability to tie them to an RC car to drive them towards their destination or another ability that lets you detonate them remotely, instead of running up to heavily armed soldiers with a lit Molotov. Your character can not take much damage and his health heals far too slowly to depend on. This game nails the feeling of being the underdog and fighting a vastly superior enemy. North Koreans will have drones, automated combat vehicles and a giant indestructible blimp that scouts the city in search of Resistance.
It is not necessary to fight alone, you can recruit up to 4 Resistance members to follow you around and defend you from threats. You do not have any control over them but their AI is surprisingly competent, they will easily keep up with you nearly everywhere you go and will not engage the enemy needlessly. They can fight pretty well and can toss molotovs, though like you, they cannot take as much damage as the heavily armored North Koreans. Taking over an outpost creates a small section where allies can appear to incentivize players to actually do them as their reward called KPA points are lackluster sub-currency.
As mentioned it is an open-world but with two caveats, the first is that there will always be a main mission active and second is that the map is split into self-contained areas that do not flow into one another, instead they are reached via tunnels. There are two separate kind of zones scattered around the map. A yellow zone which is where the civilians live and you are required to blend end or hide by any means possible from the heavy amount patrols. These are conquered by getting the support of the people be it from killing NK officers abusing their authority, breaking propaganda machines or turning on radios with Resistance propaganda.
Then you have the Red Zone. They are desolate areas containing nothing but enemy soldiers and vast landscapes of ruins. These are the areas where you are free to go in blasting, ride a motorbike around and at times contain enough radiation that you require a gas mask. The gas mask feature is sadly nothing more than a gimmick due to your character automatically taking it on and off when it is needed. It is really a great, believable world they have created here and it even features a few playable levels from the game Timesplitters 2 as an easter egg which was an awesome touch. As much of a blast I was having in the first few hours repetition unfortunately begins to take hold.
Nearly every story mission requires you to take over an outpost and they mostly just feel like an excuse to force you to conquer territories. It was cool lurking around in a crowd and hiding in dumpsters to avoid detection within the yellow zones as well as running through sniper fire in the red zones but the game has nothing more to offer. The story is barely worth listening to, the characters are extremely unlikable and there is simply nothing to prop the game up once the territory gimmick starts getting stale. There is also no reason to return to previous areas other than for the 100% achievement seekers. This leads to the feeling of it being even more pointless to conquer more land than necessary.
What really curb-stomps the fun factor of this game is the awful spawn areas of enemies. They will occasionally spawn in right in front of your face and being spotted in the yellow zone is handled extremely cheaply. Enemies will literally pop up out of dead end alleyways that were previously empty as well as all around you, instantly surrounding most of the area. The same thing happens when a blimp spots you. It makes it impossible to use guerrilla tactics when a battalion of enemies can materialize out of nowhere and it makes fighting a pain as well. Another flaw is how easily you are spotted. It makes sense in the red zone where no one is allowed to roam but in the yellow zone, you’d swear you were a glowing blue alien with how fast they notice you.
Near the end of the game, there is a point of no return whereas the name suggests once you go past it there is no coming back other than loading an old save. As to not spoil anything and to get this off my chest I must say that the ending was simply terrible. It was also the one section I’ve experienced a serious glitch, the rest of the time it ran perfectly well. Homefront The Revolution is ultimately not a bad game, just one that spread itself way too thin, to the point it becomes a chore and its flaws become that much more glaring. It was undeniably fun to sneak around with a small group of AI and my crossbow to take the hideout right under their noses but after a dozen times of it, there is little satisfaction to be had. Reaching the end of the game will be a challenge to your tenacity, however if you are fine with that, this title is nowhere near as bad as many make it out to be and does offer a decent amount enjoyment.