Vive la Revolution! – Crytek UK Developing Homefront Sequel
Torn from the relative comfort of a ramshackle apartment, threatened, beaten and manhandled onto a converted school bus. Chained and bruised, the player is driven through an occupied American town in the process of being torn apart by a brutal and implacable invading force, watching through the windows as vignettes of violent atrocities and organized suffering play out. Snippets of whispered conversation with a fellow passenger are heard between the screams and gunfire on the streets outside.
When this scene unfolded at the beginning of Homefront, it immediately brought to mind comparisons to the dystopian, ‘used future’ setting of City 17 in Half Life 2. It evoked images of the terrifying journey to the ‘fugee’ camp in the movie Children of Men. It was a glimpse into a possible near future where the cold logistics of mass murder in the ghettos of World War Two are re-enacted in a setting straight out of the pages of Nineteen Eighty Four. Downtrodden American citizens are corralled into pens on their way to labour camps and a slow death toiling for the benefit of their conquerors.
With America in ruins, her military scattered and in hiding, one last ray of hope remains for the beaten and terrorized masses in the form of the Resistance. It is members of this group that rescue protagonist Robert Jacobs, former helicopter pilot with the Marines, hijacking the bus that is transporting him and finally setting the player free to wage war on the enemy.
Five minutes in and the scene was set for what looked to be a genre-defining game that would establish itself in the hearts and minds of gamers alongside heavyweights such as the aforementioned Half Life 2, Halo and Battlefield.
Alas it was not to be.
Level design was flat and uninspiring, combat one-dimensional and unimaginative. Characters and locations were forgettable and beyond the scant details revealed in the introduction sequence, there was little emphasis on world building and fleshing out the back-story.
The monotony of the overly-short campaign was broken to some degree by several vehicle levels but even these for the most part were flawed, restricted and brought nothing new to the table. Though at first glance it conjured images from previous venerable titles, Kaos Studios’ Homefront fell far short of the experiences provided by its forebears. It was by no means a bad game, it just wasn’t all that good.
With this in mind it is debatable as to whether a sequel is necessary or even wise, particularly if the failings of the first game are not addressed and rectified. There is new hope however for the Homefront Franchise with the news that Crytek has purchased the rights from Publisher THQ, former owners of the now defunct Kaos Studios.
The German video game company behind such auspicious series’ as Crysis and Far Cry has tasked Nottingham-based Crytek UK, formerly known as Free Radical Design, to develop Homefront 2. With Crytek’s reputation for crafting visceral, memorable experiences along with the considerable skill and resources of the Crytek name behind the project, there is plenty of potential for Homefront 2 to become something very special indeed.
Written by Kyle Percival