Gamer: does the dismal "Homefront" have a silver lining?

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Can Homefront’s failures inspire change in the game industry?

I’m almost reluctant to add to the media blitz that first-person shooter Homefront (now available) was and is getting. Even with low scores and plummeting stocks, the game managed to sell 300,000 copies on its first day, so to a degree it would seem the publicity has paid off. But, after being personally subjected to an overwhelming number of posters and billboards, hundreds of balloons, an anti-Korean rally, and a long schoolbus ride to a barbed-wire-laden warehouse, I was disappointed to find that behind this velvet curtain was a pretty flimsy product. Maybe Homefront will be the game that gets the ball rolling on an important issue that has been brewing for a while: game pricing.

Kaos Studios was smart to attach itself to a wholly original idea, implausible or not, and putting the power of Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Milius (1979's Apocalypse Now) behind it doesn’t hurt. But the premise is wasted on such an impossibly underdeveloped campaign; it’s almost like Milius wrote “North Korea invades U.S.” on a napkin and called it a day.

Kaos’ shooter isn’t the first game to re-neg on its promises (see the ever-fresh wound of the Molyneux/Fable debacle for proof of that) but this burn was unique in that it was a title that appealed to a game audience that is largely overlooked. Alternate history, as a genre, has ardent supporters but aside from Fallout and Singularity its ranks haven’t been stocked particularly well. In that light, Homefront’s undelivered promise only intensifies the sting that results from its brevity.

Sixty bucks and all I get is a three-hour campaign?

You don’t hype a three hour tour.

Homefront’s single-player is surely not worthy of its price tag, so what else is in the box? The game includes a multiplayer mode and it’s light years more focused than the campaign, but multiplayer-only experiences like Battlefield 1943 run around $15. If the studio had released a multiplayer-only title, they would have been welcomed to the table differently. Instead, we’re left wondering how much developer weight was actually put behind the single-player campaign, and why the quality seems so inconsistent with the seemingly-great weight the publicity team put into hyping the mode over the past year.

Now that a sharp divide has evolved in the value of game content, making every game the same price not only hurts the consumer, it also directs the development process towards creating a viable product rather than a singular experience. As more and more players purchase titles purely for their multiplayer components, I might go so far as to suggest completely separating single player and multiplayer experiences through independent purchases.

No matter how it is sold, it seems clear that the value of each mode is rarely analogous to the amount of time developers invest in them. Call of Duty campaigns are five to six hours long, and no one bats an eye because they know the multiplayer will afford them hundreds of hours in entertainment. At the same time, enormous resources are spent on creating multiplayer for games like Bioshock while all anyone wants is to be told a cohesive story. Instead of feeling obligated to deliver both, why don't developers make a greater effort to give players what they came for?

Perhaps there’s something to be learned from the casual games market. While many console gurus malign the low pricing of iOS games, at least games are variably priced based on their worth. What’s the answer? Publishers would be smart to figure it out before all games go digital, because I expect that flat rate of $60 is going to feel a whole lot heavier without a physical product in hand.

Comments

I want 30 of my 60 bucks back please.

Posted by Pjbahama on Aug. 30, 2011 @ 8:56 am

those of you who say the graphics are terrible, have you considered that maybe the developers wanted them like that? it is very similar to borderlands, those graphics are great.

Posted by Guest117 on Jun. 20, 2011 @ 7:18 am

While I definately agree the single player campaign is way too short, the reason I felt dissapointed when it was over was because I was enjoying myself. It is a fun game to play. The concept, the story line, and the gameplay are all great. Best of all the developers did their research (unlike the developers of COD Black Ops) and made their gun models and accessories match the real thing rather than saying "it's just a game" and doing whatever the heck they felt like doing. Muliplayer is a blast as well. Which almost makes up for the disapointment I felt when the single player campaign ended so early. The damage caused by the weapons is more sever than COD. Meaning a few well placed shots and you get a kill and few poorly placed ones and you do not. Unlike COD where you can empty an entire magazine point blank into an enemy's head and he just stands there and looks at you funny. As far as I can tell this games only real flaw is the brevity of the single player campaign, and that does not deserve the ranting and raving the haters are spewing out.

Posted by TacticalCity on May. 12, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

I have been looking at picking this up for awhile. I finally did ... really worth maybe $35 bucks tops. I mean really I'm not insanely fast but I beat the campaign in 4 hours casually just playing. I loved the gun selection graphics were on par with CoD (aka static environ). This single player was fun but then just leaves you hanging wanting to actually reclaim America ... haven't tested out MP cause the PSN is down.

Worth:$35
SP:SHORT, Horrible ending, Good selection of firearms, fast paced. Teammate chatter got annoying.MP: ???

Posted by Just played on May. 06, 2011 @ 1:53 am

This game has zero physics and realism, stupid AI hiding behind a frigging PIECE OF CLOTH and my bullets cannot penetrate to kill him. Wood planks dun shatter when being shot at much less killing the person behind it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 2:05 am

Absolute waste of money. Cartoonish AT BEST graphics. Like everyone else says way too short and garbage acting. Not to offend those who play online but I just don't have time for that stuff. When I try it out I end up against juggernauts who have log 6 hours a day playing online. So give me a freaking game with a story. Was really excited for this game and was disappointed it is so worthless.

Posted by bman on Mar. 29, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

Perhaps the multilayer is good, but I feel very deceived because I was expecting an intense single player game backed by a well developed plot. Instead, what you get is a multilayer game with a three to six hour interactive (in the sense that roller-coasters are interactive) introduction.

Single player is way too short and linear for $60. I could deal with average/less-than graphics, but you spend most of the game waiting on scripted AI to do their thing. Tank and helo rounds are useless against the almighty tin roof and wood plank! The AI is usually blind as a bat too. Enemy snipers just walk back and forth on catwalks waiting for you to shoot them. Whenever something explodes, the only fallout is from stuff that was obviously scripted to move about. What I love about games like HL2 is all the physics props go flying and cause their own damage. It adds a whole other level of intensity, surprise, and strategy to the game play.

This game might have been a whole lot more interesting if it had at least half-baked physics, explored the concept of survival as a rebel force with limited resources, or even letting you live the events leading up to the occupation. Sure you get some background story, but you have to find these little news articles and read them. While I occasionally enjoy a good book, stuffing the back story in news articles like this comes off as a cheap short cut - especially given the 3-6 hours of gameplay. You buy a game to play a game. You buy a book to read a book. A book within a game is just boring, unnatural, and wrong. Besides that, you can't bury half of the story in hidden articles and expect the player to get attached to it.

You just spend the entire time plodding from one enemy barricade to the next. You can't stray from the path to find your own solutions, there are no puzzles, no creative use of the war-torn environment or random junk left laying around, and the experience is not at all like the gorilla warfare that was promised to us.

I consider this to be a failure on every level. I don't know if THQ pushed the devs for a premature release or what, but they had a great concept and totally blew it.

If the single player mode was just an afterthought that was designed to support marketing of the multiplayer mode, then I think a smaller single player campaign (al la Half-life: Uplink or Half life 2: Lost Coast) offered as a free demo version would have been way more appropriate and better received.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

I traded this game 2 weeks after I bought it for Crysis 2 (awesome game). The storyline is very creative which made it even more disappointing. The graphics suck sooooo bad I couldn't stand it! Great way to waste a good storyline.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

No...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

I'll be honest, am I glad I fucking downloaded this game. The graphics is dx9, looks OKish but can't keep up with modern games. Ok that would be OK if gameplay is top notch but the AI is stupid, team members are bad and it is so short I just yelled wtf to my girlfriend sitting next to me. She couldn't believe it. I feel like it's not even a half game. Very dissapointing, sorry dudes, not getting my money.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 10:34 am

Let me begin by saying I was a big fan of Frontlines Fuel of War both single player and multiplayer. When I heard THQ was developing another game I was hoping for a sequel without the glitches, lag, etc. Like many of you I was checking the status of this greatly anticipated game on youtube and various other websites for all the information I could get. When the release date was set I began counting down the days only to have it pushed back again and again. "Okay" I thought, I'd rather see a delay then for them to release a game of poor quality. I was wrong, regrettably very wrong! Homefront could have been great; Homefront could have been ground breaking both in premise and game play. Like I said earlier; Frontlines was fantastic, so good in fact the "Big Guys"copied ideas from it such as drones etc. The battle point system was a welcome addition instead of kill streaks which more than likely will and should be copied by other developers. The single player is way to short, the graphics are average to say the least while the movement of your character is like he has a twenty pound dump in his pants! His movements are slow, methodical not at all crisp or sharp like other FPS games. Multiplayer is a joke, that's if you can get in a game at all, joining friends is virtually impossible. It went from dedicated servers to P2P because they underestimated the online attraction; they're in the gaming industry right? MP is what many people play day in and day out and these guys are not prepared? All 16 player games will now be hosted on P2P not dedicated. Make no mistake; multiplayer is a camper / sniper haven which kills it right off the bat, the weapon selection is poor and the fact you can't add more than one attachment to your weapon is a joke. No sight and silencer combo WTF? Why Not? All the while your character is still running around with that dump in his pants! Overall this game is a failure in every way possible, with such high hopes it pales in comparison to other FPS games past or present. I mean really THQ what were you thinking? To add insult to injury if you buy used or rent you have to pay 10 bucks to play online past level 5! This was done of course to prevent people from just renting the game and also brings in a few extra bucks to boot. Like paying 60 dollars for this crap wasn't enough THQ. Put your greedy little hands back in your pockets and try developing a game we were all hoping you would! Save your money and rent if you must. Don't spend 60.00 or even 20.00 for this game, soon enough it will be in the bargain bin or on ebay for 8.00 to 10.00 dollars. Complete and utter fail THQ you should be embarrassed and ashamed! The gamers have spoken and we're not going to take this anymore it's unacceptable, a patch for this, a download for that, a quick fix for the other thing. When are you developers going to get it right? Its no wonder your stock dropped 25 percent the day of release! Thats our way of saying "Congratulations on a job well done"

Posted by Rogue on Mar. 19, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

Way too short, annoying as all hell voice acting, graphics that looked like they were drawn with colored pencils...huge huge disappointment.

Frontlines ( KAOS' previous game) was light years ahead as far as look and content ( the terrible voice acting however, was even worse in that game!!)

I will rarely buy a game on release day anymore. The only thing I've bought in the past year that I've actually felt like I got my dollars worth is Bulletstorm, because it's fun and entertaining and has a nice, long campaign.

KAOS and THQ -- what a letdown...
2 out of 10

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

This game is a completely broken mess, characters and acting are a joke. FULL of cheap deaths. Thank god it's so short. Multiplayer is actually fun, but then again it is a COMPLETELY different game than Campaign. Shooting it out on top of White Castle or Hooters is a blast. Vehicles are good too. But the single player must die!!!!!!!

Posted by Megasixstring on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

Way too short, annoying as all hell voice acting, graphics that looked like they were drawn with colored pencils...huge huge disappointment.

Frontlines ( KAOS' previous game) was light years ahead as far as look and content ( the terrible voice acting however, was even worse in that game!!)

I will rarely buy a game on release day anymore. The only thing I've bought in the past year that I've actually felt like I got my dollars worth is Bulletstorm, because it's fun and entertaining and has a nice, long campaign.

KAOS and THQ -- what a letdown...
2 out of 10

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

Pricing? What about the placement of a blood soaked "homefront" poster in front of an elementary school on Harrison?

Posted by Guestsf24hr on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

I found it OK i finished the campaign in like two hours and thought it was really good just very rushed, it didn't really have a ending and they could have easily mane it into a six hour story with lots more action and fulfillment. Its really disappointing that their servers are full and i cant get on, i think that the multiplayer will make up for the story.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

It doesn't. The multiplayer is so vastly different than the campaign it's like 2 separate games. They should have released the single player as a free demo, because that's what it feels like. So much potential wasted.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2011 @ 6:43 am

Worst 1st person shooter i have ever played...I give it 1 out of 10

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

I totally agree with you. I've NEVER wanted my team dead as much! We got totally screwed with this one.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

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