Homefront (video game)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Homefront is a first-person shooter video game developed by Kaos Studios and published by THQ. The game tells the story of a resistance movement fighting in near-future against the military occupation of the Western United States by a unified Korea. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. After THQ's bankruptcy, the rights of the game were sold to Crytek who then sold the rights to Koch Media after restructuring their company. Deep Silver, a subsidiary of Koch Media have published the sequel Homefront: The Revolution.
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The single-player campaign features many elements found in many other first-person shooter video games, such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. It takes 5 to 10 hours to finish the game, all depending on the player's experience.
The multiplayer component of Homefront is focused on large-scale, vehicle-based combat reminiscent of Kaos Studios' first title, Frontlines: Fuel of War. The defining innovation of Homefront's multiplayer is its battle points system, which is an in-game currency that allows a player to purchase weapons, gear, and vehicles. Players can earn points by completing objectives and increasing their amount of kills, and can choose to spend their points between many small purchases such as weapons, missiles, and drones, or larger, higher cost items like helicopters and tanks.
The multiplayer gameplay takes place in the period before the United States armed forces were completely scattered. Each copy of Homefront contains an online pass, granting users access to the full multiplayer experience. Although the online pass is not required to play multiplayer, those who play without an online pass will be unable to progress further than level 5 of the total 75 levels.
The online multiplayer function of the game is now defunct due to the sale of THQ in late 2013.
Setting and backstory
Homefront is set in a dystopic United States, in the year 2027. The game's backstory dates back to the 2010s, where there are high tensions between North Korea and the global powers due to the country's military aggression, including its successful nuclear weapons test and the sinking of a South Korean ship.
In the year 2013, one year after the death of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-il, his son and successor, Kim Jong-un, reunites North and South Korea to form the Greater Korean Republic (GKR), a technological and economic global power that utilizes the military strength of the North and the economic strength of the South. By the year 2015, a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both becoming nuclear-armed states, devastated the global oil supply, causing gas prices to skyrocket to $19.99 per gallon, leaving many countries in debt and causing mass hysteria. This precipitates extreme economic turmoil and massive social unrest in the United States. Subsequently, in 2017, the U.S. military recalls much of its overseas presence, particularly in the Pacific. A year later, Japan, significantly weakened due to the diminishing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, is easily conquered by the GKR and is annexed shortly thereafter, becoming the first GKR puppet state.
In 2022, conditions in the United States get worse with the collapse of the financial system and an Asian bird flu epidemic that claims six million lives, forcing the Mexican government to quarantine the country by setting up immigration quotas as the Asian bird flu continues throughout North America. By 2024, Korea's annexation has continued throughout Southeast Asia, including its emerging economic powers, giving the GKR an empire reminiscent of Imperial Japan. Finally, in 2025, the Greater Korean Republic launched a supposed advanced GPS satellite that would be a signal of peace, but is actually an orbital weapon that detonated a high-altitude nuclear device over the U.S., creating an EMP burst that wipes out much of the nation's electrical infrastructure. In the ensuing chaos, the Korean People's Army (KPA) launches an instant amphibious invasion, starting the Korean-American War. They seize control of Hawaii and much of the U.S. Pacific Coast. Korean paratroopers are deployed over the Midwestern United States, and with the U.S. military severely crippled and scattered, launches a final offensive to take control of the remaining states. However, the Americans were able to counterattack, leaving the Eastern States free, and effectively dividing the nation at the irradiated Mississippi River, with the Western states under GKR occupation, known as the 'New Korean Federation of Occupied America,' a puppet state of the GKR.
In 2027, two years after Korean-American War and the beginning of the occupation, Robert Jacobs, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat helicopter pilot, is awakened in his apartment in Montrose, Colorado and ordered to a re-education camp in Alaska. Jacobs sees that the Korean troops have seized control of the town, taking potentially valuable residents into custody and executing resistors. However, the bus carrying Jacobs is ambushed by American resistance fighters Connor (a former Marine from North Carolina) and Rianna (a hunting expert from Colorado), who lead him to Oasis, a resistance hideout founded by local state patrolman Boone Karlson. Boone, Connor, and Rianna are aware of Jacobs's background as a pilot and recruit him to help recover fuel for the scattered U.S. military forces. Boone initiates the operation with himself, Jacobs, Connor, Rianna, and Hopper (a Korean-American technical expert from Oakland, California).
The group plans to steal several tracking beacons from a school used as a labor exchange facility, with the help of their "inside man" Arnie. These beacons are to be placed on fuel trucks so they can be tracked and hijacked. However, Arnie betrays the team in order to protect his children, forcing the team to kill him and eliminate all forces in the camp. They discover a mass grave in the school's baseball field and narrowly escape Korean reinforcements by hiding among the bodies.
The rebels continue their attacks on the KPA, assaulting an occupied discount warehouse store, where Jacobs, Connor, and Rianna succeed in locating the trucks and planting a beacon on one of them. They return to Oasis, only to find that Boone and all of the base's inhabitants have been discovered and killed by Korean troops. They also discover that the Korean People's Air Force are attacking a nearby town beyond the wall, as payback for the raid the night before. The group narrowly escape with other Colorado resistance fighters by breaching the walls enclosing the town.
The team has the information that a suitable helicopter is located in a survivalist encampment in Utah. As the residents of the camp are violent towards Koreans and Americans alike, the team infiltrates the camp and manages to steal the helicopter. They pursue and hijack the fuel convoy. With Jacobs providing air support, the team continues their trip to San Francisco, where they deliver their jet fuel to aid the U.S. military there.
The U.S. Armed Forces begin their West Coast counter-offensive by trying to retake San Francisco. They launch an assault from Marin County that succeeds in retaking most of the Golden Gate Bridge with ground personnel, AA guns, and fighter aircrafts, as the U.S. Navy reinforcements arrive. Nearing the San Francisco side of the bridge, the Americans find themselves outgunned by a massive KPA battalion. Although the ground forces have captured and reprogrammed the KPA ground-based air defenses, attaining air superiority for the U.S. Air Force, the American aircraft cannot identify where to strike due to the smoke, debris and confusion. Realizing that they are at a critical turning point, Connor lights a flare and advances on foot towards the enemy convoy and orders an air strike onto his own position, sacrificing himself to ensure that American ground forces can retake the city.
The news of the successful operation is reported by British and European media, with the Bay Area counter-attack proving to be a major turning point in America's guerrilla war against the GKR occupation. With San Francisco taken, many of the West Coast cities are returned to U.S. hands and the military launches a counter-offensive to take back the occupied states. With these victories, the EU Defense Council schedules an emergency meeting, declares war on the Greater Korean Republic, and begin planning an offensive to eradicate the KPA from the United States.
Homefront's gameplay has been completely reworked from its origins in Frontlines: Fuel of War, focusing on a more cinematic, character-driven experience. David Votypka, the design director of Homefront, said that the gameplay would be based around guerrilla-style tactics and would be inspired by Half-Life 2. The same interview asserted the surroundings were designed to establish a connection with the user by using real companies and brands. The executive producer of the PC version of Homefront, Frank Delise, stated before release that the PC version of the game would feature exclusive content and dedicated servers. Additional exclusive features include clan support, DirectX 11 graphics, and first person vehicle cockpits.
The antagonists in Homefront were originally intended to be communist Chinese, but were later replaced by a unified Korea for two reasons: the risk of a possible backlash by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and the reality of economic interdependence between America and China that made the Chinese "not that scary," according to Tae Kim, a former CIA field agent and consultant on the game's backstory. Kim said, "We went to a very rigorous, academic research process to make sure to not only look at North Korea's current state but to look at historical examples how things could parallel and turn events. History repeats itself. From today to the day the invasion starts in the game, if you combine everything, the odds are very very slim this becomes true. But when you look at the storyline step by step, every step is a coin flip but a plausible step. So once you get there, it's plausible. And from there the next step is plausible as well. Even though the whole thing is fictional, it comes with plausible baby steps." While the story was billed as being written by John Milius, Gamasutra reported "most former employees credit Kaos writer C.J. Kershner with Homefront's script", claiming that Milius wrote not a single word however consulted with Kaos in the writing and direction of the story.
Homefront was released on March 15, 2011 in North America, March 17, 2011 in Australia, March 18, 2011 in Europe, and April 14, 2011 in Japan. The game has been released on Steam, as well as the OnLive gaming service.
THQ announced a tie-in novel, Homefront: The Voice of Freedom, written by John Milius and Raymond Benson, which follows a group of reporters making their way across America to explore the early days of the occupation. The book involves characters from the game and sets the stage for its story. The book was released ahead of the game on January 25, 2011 as part of a "vast transmedia strategy" for Homefront.
The soundtrack for the game was composed by Matthew Harwood.
Songs for the Resistance
|Soundtrack album by Various|
|1.||"War Ensemble" (Slayer cover)||As I Lay Dying||4:51|
|2.||"Fight the Power" (Public Enemy cover)||The Dillinger Escape Plan featuring Chuck D||3:57|
|3.||"Uprising" (Muse cover)||Iwrestledabearonce||4:16|
|4.||"War Pigs" (Black Sabbath cover)||The Acacia Strain||8:15|
|5.||"One" (Metallica cover)||Periphery||7:12|
|6.||"Fortunate Son" (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)||The Ghost Inside||2:29|
|7.||"For What It's Worth" (Buffalo Springfield cover)||Winds of Plague||2:40|
|8.||"Us and Them" (Pink Floyd cover)||Misery Signals||7:41|
|9.||"Masters of War" (Bob Dylan cover)||Arsonists Get All the Girls||4:15|
|10.||"War" (Edwin Starr cover)||Oceano||3:58|
|11.||"Sunday Bloody Sunday" (U2 cover)||Veil of Maya||4:25|
Homefront was met with mixed reviews across all platforms. Some critics praised the atmosphere and story, while others panned those same aspects, along with the short length of the single-player campaign. However, the multiplayer aspect of Homefront was generally well received. Review aggregator GameRankings generated a score of 71.70% for the Xbox 360 version, 69.33% for the PlayStation 3 version and 68.89% for the Microsoft Windows version. Review aggregator Metacritic generated a score of 70 out of 100 across all platforms.
Play praised Kaos studios for the different campaign mode and multiplayer, but criticized most other things. IGN praised the setting and presentation, while criticizing the short campaign. GameSpot praised some memorable moments and the well crafted multiplayer, however it criticized the short length and that it felt too familiar compared to other first person shooters. According to GameZone, "with a few tweaks and a fresher coat of paint, Homefront would have been outstanding, far outshining either of those titles. As is, it’s still worth a playthrough, and the quality multiplayer makes an excellent alternative to your current, aging FPS of choice."
THQ stated that first-day sales in North America reached 375,000 copies. THQ announced an estimated 1 million copies sold across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific markets. As of 3 May 2011[update] it had shipped 2.6 million units to retail since launch.
The advertising for Homefront has simulated a declaration of war in mainstream websites and media, creating confusion amongst non-gamers. The nature and timing of the advertising created concern in the wake of the ROKS Cheonan sinking and the North Korean artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island, causing mainstream media coverage of the advertising campaign. THQ has denied that the game was developed to piggyback off the tensions on the Korean peninsula, saying that "Homefront is a work of speculative fiction, set in the year 2027. Recent real-world events on the Korean peninsula are obviously tragic and, like everyone, we hope for a swift and peaceful resolution."
For its Japanese release, Homefront has been censored by removing all references to North Korea including pictures of then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. They are replaced by references to "A Certain Country to the North" (北の某国?) and the "Northern Leader" (北の指導者?). Spike, the game's Japanese/Asian publisher, justified the censorship, stating that to "use their real names would have been 'malicious' to an 'existing person' and an 'existing country.'"
THQ released 10,000 balloons near San Francisco as a publicity stunt during the Game Developers Conference, angering local environmentalists after balloons fell into San Francisco Bay. The game was banned in South Korea because of its depiction of a unified Korea under Northern rule.
Despite mixed reviews, publisher THQ confirmed that a sequel to Homefront was in development. As developer Kaos Studios was shut down, the game was set to be developed by Crytek UK using CryEngine 3. After THQ filed for bankruptcy, Crytek acquired the rights to the franchise as a whole on January 22, 2013. Homefront: The Revolution was announced on June 2, 2014, and subsequently released in May of 2016. On July 31, Koch Media acquired the rights from Crytek and the game finished development under Dambuster Studios and was published by Deep Silver.
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Checkpoint Guard: [in Korean] Passengers and destination? / Bus Driver: Pilots for re-education. I'm taking them to Facility #1138.
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Connor: This is Connor Morgan to all Resistance cells. The Oasis is compromised. They've murdered Boone.
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