Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cleared: Homefront

Well, that's another one down. It only took me five hours to play through Homefront, and that's with a couple of incredibly frustrating spots where I kept dying or failing mission objectives for some other reason. I'm a bit conflicted about Homefront, because on the one hand, the IP is solid. You could set some really fantastic games in the setting, and indeed, I have some faith that may indeed happen, but this was not that game. The scripting was so dominant and so rigid that I felt like I was playing an arcade rail shooter like Time Crisis, but more frustrating. Things like opening doors and the like always fell to my squadmates, but yet I attracted bullets like a huge magnet every time I popped my head up. This is actually even (unintentionally?) lampshaded late in the game when an attack helicopter ignores an entire armored column up on top of a bridge to come after the player down in the underscaffolding after getting blown off the bridge and landing on a catwalk. So the game is short and gives the player basically no agency, but I'm still kind of looking forward to the next sequel. Why? Two reasons. Reason one: Crytek. THQ has contracted Crytek, arguably one of the top 3 FPS developers out there today (the other two being Valve and Id) to make the sequel. Since Crytek also likes emergent gameplay and open world, one hopes the new game will actually be good. For the second reason, you'll have to read the spoiler-filled RPG notes section.

RPG notes: Spoiler warning, as usual. Okay, so here's the thing: I'd really like to see a Fallout (or even S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) style open RPG in the Homefront setting. The world is fairly consistent and plausible enough, the Korean army are vicious, murderous monsters (mass graves, killing parents in front of toddler-aged children, etc.) that are easy to hate. The various crazy survivalists, resistance cells, and others in the game would make a great patchwork world of shifting allegiances and battle lines that it would be great to travel through through as a lone wanderer of some kind. I could easily envision setting a really fantastic tabletop RPG campaign in the setting as well. My only real setting gripe is that weapons technology hasn't advanced at all in 2027? Really? Everybody's using the same exact rifles and accessories they do today? Some fun near-future stuff like caseless assault rifles, an OICW-style weapon of some sort, and so forth would be a welcome addition, but could be easily hacked in by an enterprising GM.

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