Released last week for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, Homefront tells the story of a future in which a united Korea has become mad with power and is in the process of invading a crumbling and vulnerable United States. Players assume the role of Robert Jacobs, an ex-Marine who joins up with the American Resistance, a scattered group of freedom fighters who swear to defend the country at all costs.
We got to sit down with Homefront's Design Director, David Votypka of Kaos Studios, to talk about the challenges of making a title with such controversial content, adapting writer John Milius' story into a game, and more.
Equal parts "Children of Men" and "Red Dawn," Homefront is a game whose story is easily one of the most engrossing we've experienced in quite some time, complete with an extremely convincing, cinematic opening. It's this narrative that instantly radiates through the player, creating more than enough reason to see Homefront all the way through. Though there are certainly a fair share of disturbing moments, at times Homefront is able to blur the line between a story and a video game. We asked Votypka about the hurdles in dealing with these very real and serious topics.
Votypka explained that video games, as a medium, are maturing and that he and the studio felt it was important not to shy away from the gruesome images found in plenty of R-rated films. Votypka says that Homefront definitely pushed boundaries that other titles may not wish to tackle. Having played through the game, we can confirm Homefront has a few moments that separate it from the pack.
Penned by John Milius ("Apolcalypse Now," "Red Dawn"), Homefront didn't follow the conventional script-to-console path that other games might. Votypka told us that Milius wrote the script more like a film that Votypka and company then adapted into an interactive game. Homefront has a war-documentary feel to it that the team really wanted to be conveyed in-game; Homefront has no cut-scenes--everything is told on-the-fly.
Votypka went on to talk about Milius' desire to develop the human element of Homefront. Through the game's chapters, players are able to get inside the minds of the resistance and identify with their personalities and relationships. It's these details that further humanize the story, and ultimately lead the player through the campaign.
We're sold on Homefront's engaging storyline, but how does it play as a video game? Speaking from a strictly technical point of view, Homefront plays similar to most of the conventional first-person-shooters out there. We felt running was a bit slow and there are a handful of times when your team takes too long to react to events in the game. It's also too hard to see grenades (that you've thrown and those thrown at you) which led to plenty of checkpoint restarts during our time with the single-player mode.
Also, Homefront's campaign clocks in a bit shorter than most games; we finished it in about five hours. When asked about the criticism some reviewers gave the game for that short amount of play time, Votypka pointed to the game's in-depth multiplayer component, which is a huge undertaking in its own right. As to the campaign's five hours, Votypka and his team felt it was better to deliver an experience where each mission had a purpose rather than add in a bunch of filler gameplay. We'd agree; while it's certainly on the shorter side, it's still effective and satisfying by the time the end credits roll.
For a live in-studio demo of Homefront, please check out last week's episode of.