Homefront was quite the surprise at E3, coming from seemingly nowhere to grab a number of awards (including a couple game-of-shows), putting developer Kaos Studios in the limelight. Earlier, we were able to get some multiplayer hands-on time with the game for a quick preview of what was to come with the online gameplay. Now, we've been given the chance to play through the first chapter of a single player campaign that looks like it could definitely be quite the ride.
First, we were given a glimpse at the developer's side of things, shown what they wanted the game to be. They spoke of alien landscapes, ones that were familiar to us, but warped. Of finding reasons to fight, and showing us what we the player are fighting for. The game takes place during the occupation of San Francisco in the year 2027, after North and South Korea have united under a charismatic leader. There's a rich past to the story, one in which a combination of factors such as oil prices, unemployment, and attacks have severely weaken the United States while the newly unified Korea has grown in strength, annexing an conquering countries along East Asia, consolidating its power. The backstory was developed with the help of CIA consultants to provide a 'realistic' approach to what could happen. The actual story of the game proper was, in fact, written by the same man who co-wrote "Red Dawn", so expect to see a couple similarities.
But the game begins much after this, after North Korea has already taken over a chunk of the US west. It starts simply enough, with the player in the main character's apartment, just moment before he's taken away by troops from the Great Korean Republic as a possible resistance sympathizer. As you're dragged to an old school bus and taken through the city, you see the effect that the occupation has had, the terrible things that are being done to the people. You see a child's parents get gunned down in front of him, lines of people destined for labour camps, scores of dead bodies on the streets. Things that have gone downhill, to say the least. And then you're freed by members of the resistance, leading to a chase through a mangled suburbia, littered with set pieces such as a downed jet liner (a result of an EMP attack by the GKR) and destroyed homes everywhere.
The scene culminates with a massive holdout against GKR forces using the Goliath. This large, unmanned vehicle drives through the battlefield, attacking troops and firing it's sizeable cannon at anything that you point at using a special pair of goggles. With the massive firefight going on, things start to escalate, but just when you think that you've got the GKR on the run, a massive firebombing ends the chapter.
The game plays much like you'd expect a first-person shooter to you run, you gun, everyone laughs and the communists die. Things are pretty fast-paced, whether you're running after your men or shooting down the large amounts of GKR soldiers everywhere. Though you're limited to carrying two guns at a time, the game (at least, in this chapter), provides a bevy of guns littering the area for you to pick up, which creates this feeling of use-and-toss gunplay, adding to the quickened pace of the title as you rapidly use up a gun's ammo before switching to the next one laying around.
What really creates the allure of the game is the story and the world that has been created. Though it's been stated that a large focus has gone into the multiplayer side of things, it's clear that a lot of work has been put into the single player as well. Things come together in massive climaxes, large firefights, dramatic scenes of carnage where you're either a willing participant like during the massive fire scene that was seen in the E3 demo or an unwilling hostage to events like when you can do nothing but watch atrocities being committed against your fellow man. It's a dramatic title that looks to show what it's really like to see your home taken over.
We were only provided with one chapter, but I'm eager to play the rest of the game, to see if the pace and style of the story and presentation can match up with what they've shown so far. If so, then this might be quite the experience to play through, more than just another FPS with a haphazard single-player campaign. Look forward to it in March of 2011.