Hands-On: Homefront Multiplayer

John Funk | 21 Jan 2011 12:00
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I am a proud soldier in the Korean People's Army, in the service of our Glorious Leader. We have come to this country, the United States of America, to liberate it from its stagnant, corrupt leaders and to welcome it into the fold as a member of our mighty Greater Korean Republic. The craven and cowardly U.S. military is broken and scattered, and today we meet one isolated pocket of resistance in battle, to crush these American dogs against this pastoral farmland - to strike a blow that will bring them one step closer to their final surrender.

They fight with the fury of a cornered animal, but we fight more fiercely still, capturing their strategic objectives and driving them back to a storage facility, where they make their last stand amongst silos meant to hold crops and grains. They are well-fortified, and we make little progress. One soldier in particular kills many of my comrades on his own, and he is marked a priority threat. Our wise commander gives me a personal mission to hunt this soldier down and eliminate him - a chance to win honor and glory. I follow my orders to this foe's approximate location, trusting in my superior training and skill. I know he's around here somewhere; I raise my rifle to my shoulder, preparing to fire at any moment as I round a corner ... and come face-to-face with the main cannon of an American tank.

Well, crap. Respawn in 5, 4, 3 ...

There's no denying that Kaos Studios' Homefront is an ambitious title. With a near-future speculative fiction concept - the United States invaded and occupied by a resurgent North Korea - the game's single-player campaign (as our own Steve Butts checked out back in November) aims to uncomfortably and emotionally involve the "human cost of war," Homefront creative director Dave Votypka told The Escapist. But the modern military shooter is an increasingly crowded market dominated by the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield - games that are sold primarily on the strength of their multiplayer. If Homefront can't compete with the big dogs on that turf, it won't succeed.

At a THQ press event set to strut the game's multiplayer stuff, the Kaos team was out to prove that Homefront could do just that. And you know what? They just might be right.

There are two well-thought-out systems in Homefront that might well allow it to stand with the major players, but we'll come to those in a moment. In contrast to (largely) infantry-only affairs like Call of Duty, Kaos and THQ are betting that players want to blow things up with tanks as well as on foot. "Right now, large-scale multiplayer warfare" - that is, multiplayer putting all the tools of war (infantry, tanks, jeeps, helicopters, drones, air strikes etc.) in players' direct control - "is really only being done by the Battlefield games," said Votypka. Homefront is looking to change that.

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