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Homefront Multiplayer Hands-On

Posted on Thursday, March 3 @ 13:31:28 PST by

Homefront has managed to fly under my radar for quite some time. Call it shooter fatigue, I just can't be bothered to get excited for anything in the first person perspective genre (Mirror's Edge Anything excluded).

Still, last night's Homefront event provided quite a good look at the multiplayer game built around Homefront's North-Korean-Invasion campaign. If there was ever a game that could hold it's own in the crowded modern shooter space, Homefront is it.

Honestly, I didn't expect to enjoy my Homefront experience as much as I did. If you've had your ear to the ground for any GDC news, you've probably heard about the environmentally-hazardous, taco-serving, marketing blanket THQ has plastered the surround blocks of the Moscone center with. You can't turn around without eating some Homefront-flavored food, seeing a bus stop with a Homefront sign, or choking on a balloon like a hungry seagull.

Really just obnoxious. When a game company puts so much money behind a game, like THQ is with Homefront, you just know there's something they're try to cover up. At least, that's the assumption. I played about an hour and a half of solid, dedicated multiplayer last night and Homefront manages to deftly toe the line between the two biggest FPS franchises. I'm speaking of Battlefield and Call of Duty.

Homefront features a system where players earn battle points for everything they do during a multiplayer match. You can earn these through kills, streaks, assists, objectives, and a number of more passive tasks. Of note, a relatively cheap item you can spend battle points on is a radio-controlled helicopter that will allow you to mark enemy units on your team's collective HUD. Not only do you earn more battle points for each mark, if a team mate kills a player you've marked, you'll get points for the assist as well. Battle points can also be spent on other power ups like a robot vehicle or RPGs.

You might think this is just a new method of rewarding players for killstreaks. The experience goes much further than that. On the fly battle point purchases are nice, but they don't compare to the way you can spend battle points when you spawn. Instead of the rush to vehicles in Battlefield games, players will pay for vehicles they want to pilot when they spawn. These will cost you hundreds or thousands of battle points, depending how far up the tier you go.

Homefront takes it's vehicular combat and general engagement feel from Battlefield, but the overall experience is more akin to Call of Duty. Homefront is faster and more focused. Find the front line is quicker and once you're actually in a shoot out the timing and rhythm is all Call of Duty. In particular, every time you spawn, you're given a view of the entire map with enemy and friendly names displayed. This gives you an immediate sense of where to head to find action.

I picked up the controller expecting to be bored and turned off by Homefront's seemingly derivative gameplay. What I found was the opposite. You'll want to pay attention when the game releases later this month.

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