A First Look at THQ’s New Shooter Homefront

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If you haven’t heard about Kaos Studio and THQ’s game Homefront, the indications from the advertising blitz at E3 suggest you soon will.

It was first announced that Kaos Studios would be working on a new IP called Homefront last year, but at this year’s E3 the game was everywhere. Everywhere. Entire buildings in downtown Los Angeles were covered with the logo for the game. The front of the Convention Center where E3 was held, had a massive banner streaming in front of the Hall, and once inside the corridor between halls had several banners that made it simply impossible to ignore this game. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t escape the hype.  Ironically, the game itself is still being closely guarded as it won’t be out until next year, but we managed to get a first-look at the gameplay.

Homefront relies heavily on the setting to immerse you in a world that you know, but seen in a disturbing new way. The game takes place in the year 2027, and America has seen better days. Imagine LA post-celebration riot, after the Lakers win a championship, then magnify it by 1000.

In the time between now and 2027, America’s financial system begins to crumble following an energy crisis, while the North Koreans begin to flourish as they officially become a nuclear superpower. Following the death of Kim Jung-il, his son Kim Jung-un, takes control. Korea is soon unified as a single nation even while America is suffering from a near financial collapse. The new unified Korea soon begins to expand, and America is forced to withdraw from the Pacific. Korea then takes control of Japan and most of Southeast Asia. A satellite is then launched that sends an electro-magnetic pulse that cripples all American electronics. Hawaii falls first, then San Francisco. Soon the Pacific coast is under Korean control, and the American Army is scattered.

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You play as a pilot and soldier that teams up with a group of insurrectionists fighting with guerilla tactics. In the gameplay demo we saw, the game definitely wants you to buy into the concept of an occupied America as much as the play itself. To this end, Kaos brought in writer and director John Milius to script the story. Milius co-wrote Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now, so the choice seems to be a perfect fit.

The demo hammered home the point of a radically different lifestyle, as several Americans are living together in a suburban house, while hiding from Korean forces. Children continue to play under camouflage netting, while vegetable gardens make the people self-sufficient. It is a tense scene, as residents are constantly watching and avoiding enemies. The characters you fight alongside are not soldiers, but rather armed citizens fighting for survival. A quick look at the map suggests that the western half of the US up to the Rockies was occupied, the heartlands were radiated, and the fate of the East Coast was unknown.

The game then jumped to an attack from further into the game. Developers from Kaos took control and played through an raid on a local strip mall that had become a storage base for Korean forces. A van burst through the fence, and as the guards warily approached it, a phosphorus attack lit many of them ablaze. Next, the action became frantic as a counterattack wipes out several of the fighters on your side. An armored car crashes through the barrier to help you out, while a Korean helicopter begins to attack.

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The gameplay of Homefront looked to follow traditional first-person shooter rules. We weren’t able to play the game ourselves, but what we saw suggested a fairly smooth mechanic that fans of the genre will feel right at home with. We’ll have to reserve judgment until we get a playable copy. The graphics also seemed a little rough at places, but that isn’t surprising since the game is not due out for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 until 2011.

Expect more on this game in the coming months, including an announcement on multiplayer.

Warning: This trailer may not be suitable for all ages.