I recently picked up a used copy of Homefront (2011, PS3). Since the game is more than two years old, and was neither critically acclaimed nor a blockbuster, I got it at a fairly rock-bottom price. This is especially good: I am not a big fan of first person shooter (FPS) games, and consequently, I’m not a very skilled shooter. Thus, I usually pass on such games, even when they’re in the bargain bin.
While there’s almost always a “fun” factor with video games, there was one specific reason that I wanted to try this particular game: the setting. To summarize:
Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea since 2011, unifies Korea in 2013 to form the Greater Korean Republic (GKR), which becomes a world power. Iran and Saudi Arabia wage war with one another, driving U.S. gas prices to $19.99/gallon. Economic unrest and hysteria ensue; the U.S. calls much of its military home. The GKR annexes several weakened Asian territories, including Japan. Eventually the U.S. dollar collapses. Avian bird flue kills 6 million people, forcing Mexico to close its borders to Americans. In 2025, the GKR detonates a high-altitude nuclear satellite above the U.S. and invades Hawaii and the west coast. At the time the game begins (2027), GKR occupies and controls virtually everything west of the Mississippi River (which is irradiated).
(Watch the video of the opening sequence above for more detail.)
Ever since I first heard about the game, I’ve wanted to see this vision and story for myself. And so, it was into this world that I stepped when I fired up Homefront for the first time on Tuesday.
After the opening cinematic (see top), which set the tone for Homefront by getting the player up to speed, I assumed the character of Jacobs, a former Marine chopper pilot. I was captured, and was being transported to a re-patriation camp, when suddenly the bus I was on was attacked, and I was rescued by American resistance fighters Connor and Rianna. From there, I was running through abandoned streets and houses, shooting at GKR gunman, and… dying. A lot.
I played the game for almost an hour before I remembered that I had a scope. A scope! which I could use to train on enemies and actually kill them with some consistency, rather than waving my crosshairs around like I was in the color guard! I wanted to be angry at myself, but I had to smile instead. It’s been so long (years…) since I’ve played an FPS that I forgot about the scope. For an hour. Nice.
Anyway, once I remembered that I could use my scope, I started making some actual headway in the game.
One poignant event in Homefront came when, after killing a ton of enemies (and acquiring some beacons for a future mission) at the local detention center, we (Connor, Hopper and I) came to an abandoned baseball field, where the GKR was in the process of dumping American corpses into mass graves with a front-end loader.
Upon witnessing this unspeakable outrage, Connor lost his sanity for a minute, and with a stream of obscenities, started firing madly at the GKR – who outnumbered us quite thoroughly. Fortunately, Hopper kept his head and led us around the perimeter of the field/grave, where we managed to kill every soldier in the area and destroy two sentry towers, only to be approached by Korean choppers as we surveyed the mass grave. Connor’s solution? Well, we stepped down into the grave and pulled bodies over ourselves until the coast was clear.
That was a powerful experience: to see, to “participate in,” and to think about later.
At that point, I was about a quarter of the way through the game. I finished it on Wednesday, but nobody wants me to walk through them through the whole game here. Suffice to say that I enjoyed the sniping missions, stunk badly at the helicopter mission (it was probably the only really frustrating part of my game-play experience – being a noob and all), and thought that everything from that point through the Golden Gate Bridge gauntlet was pretty fun. The game ended abruptly, and I was left feeling like it wasn’t supposed to be over; like there should be more there, but there wasn’t – it was just over.
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I wanted to play Homefront because I wanted to see the developers’ vision of America in such a dire circumstance. Obviously, I hope that such an event never happens, but my interest in alternate history scenarios was what drove my desire to try out this game.
Ultimately, while I wasn’t blown away by Homefront, I’m glad I took the time to play through it and experience the story for myself. The story wasn’t terribly long, and the graphics, music, and voice acting weren’t anything to write home about, but I still had fun playing it. I probably won’t ever play it again, but it was definitely worth the $5 to satisfy my curiosity.
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My experience with Homefront:
- Previous FPS experience: not much (“noob”).
- Single-player thoughts: a very short, good-but-not-great game; interesting story premise (which felt unfinished); conventional FPS gameplay.
- Multi-player thoughts: none.
- Graphics: unimpressive, but serviceable.
- System/game performance: no freezing or game-breaking issues.
- Music: not a standout feature; typical, but still fit well with the game by my meager standards.
Note: Not a real review is a new series here at Dischordant Forms, where I write about my experiences playing through various video games – usually older games that I can get at bargain bin prices. Since I’m simply terrible at most video games, these posts should not be considered actual reviews, which are usually written by people who are both competent gamers and decent writers. These are simply my impressions, and the context in which those are formed may be vastly different from that of most other players/readers.
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I first became aware of Fable when it was released in September of 2004 for the original XBox. However, I didn’t start playing it until March of 2006; in fact, it was the first RPG-classified game that I completed.
I can remember the first day I played it. I had bought it (Fable: The Lost Chapters) on a Sunday, and had that Monday off. I started playing at around 11 AM, and with the exception of meal and bathroom breaks, I played until past 2 AM that first evening. The soundtrack is amazing, and the game was beautiful and immersive in a way that I had never experienced before. As such, it was my first experience with putting that much time into one session of a game (but hardly my last).
Much has been written about the first Fable game, so I won’t go into an explanation. Suffice to say that the information is out there if you aren’t familiar, and also that I played through it several times. I also played Fable II several times, although it took me a few years to get around to it – and felt that it was also a great game, although not quite as awesome as the first – and Fable III once. I wasn’t as into Fable III, having had some serious issues with the user interface, which I felt went several steps in the wrong direction (I loathed the Sanctuary – which I found highly inconvenient and cumbersome as a substitute for the menu system – although I know people who loved it). Beyond those, I haven’t played the other entries in the series – Fable: The Journey for XBox/Kinect and Fable Heroes on XBLA. That doesn’t diminish the love or the high hopes I have for the series.
Last year, Lionhead Studios announced Fable Anniversary for XBox 360, an HD remake of Fable including the The Lost Chapters bonus content, as a celebration of the ten year anniversary of that first game. From what I’ve read, the game will have not only improved graphics, but also a remastered soundtrack (which is awesome, and I seriously want to buy that soundtrack if it ever becomes available…) and even a couple of new achievements. At $39.99, the game is a bargain, although at $34.99, its accompanying strategy guide is not. (Note: I’m poor.)
I played through Fable II as recently as last year, because I do love that game, but I haven’t played through the first game in several years. I was toying with the idea of playing the original again before the remake arrived, but ultimately I decided not to, mainly because of a desire to have the game be relatively fresh for me when I do play Anniversary: had I played it in mid-January, it might not have had the same impact that it will have when I put the disc in, create my character and play through it for the first time in a long time. I want to savor the experience. I know that since I’ve already played it (and the other games), there will be some familiarity, but I’ve decided that this will nonetheless be the path to my best experience.
I don’t know my work schedule for next week as I write this, but I’m sure that I will be able to put some hours into Fable Anniversary once it arrives on Tuesday. It’s safe to say that I’m excited!
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Hello, friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I work retail, and so this holiday season has been like any other: hectic, stressful, and generally tiring. It has come with its share of trials, but also many blessings. The season has gone approximately how I had envisioned, with unexpected issues here and there, but we are resilient, are we not?
Anyway, as such, I’ve been slow to post – both here and at my other blog – but that’s par for the course for me during the holidays; fortunately, I’ve come to accept it over the years. There are occasionally times in life where we don’t feel the passion or energy that we normally feel for our hobbies, and I used to despair over that. And even now, there are times when I feel small bits of guilt for not “keeping up” with the blog, but they are weaker and less overbearing than they have been in years past. We do what we can – and what we have to – in order to get by and stay healthy, and I’m happy to have come to terms with that reality.
It’s difficult to believe, in some ways, that the craziness is almost over for us. Amid the busy-ness at work, we got to spend time with, and talk with, family. We suffered through the death of a pet. We experienced the pleasure of giving and receiving gifts. We battled sleep deficits. We decorated our small Christmas tree. We listened to Christmas carols and watched Christmas specials. We fought off sickness. And we’re coming out okay on the other side of it all.
Working retail at the holidays is something of a marathon, a two-month test of endurance and patience. The time for unwinding comes after the holiday season is over, when folks are back at work and children are back in school. Once these things happen and work slows down a tad, I start getting back into my groove a bit, spending more time playing guitar, getting outside regularly for walks, writing posts, and getting projects and tasks completed (beyond the laundry / groceries / dishes / basics, etc.). I’m enjoying the holiday season, but I already find that I’m looking forward to getting back into that groove.
That said, I love the holidays. I’ve listened to a ton of Christmas music over the past couple of months, although I’ve found that I’m enjoying the more reverent, classical, and hymnal music more as I get older, as opposed to the more upbeat, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”/”Jingle Bells” types of music, in part because it’s generally more peaceful. Peace is a precious commodity amid the chaos of retail during the holidays.
Additionally, I’ve gotten to make some fun holiday treats on a tight budget, which has been gratifying. I’ve also managed to get through the season without adding the proverbial ten holiday pounds – I’ve maintained a weight that I had gotten down to in October, and which is within ten pounds or so of my goal. That puts me in good position to get to work on attaining that goal in the new year, rather than starting from way behind after the holidays (as has often been the case).
Overall, it has been a good year for me – it was certainly better overall than both 2012 and 2011. I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings, in terms of personal growth and progress. And more posts here on the blog!
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Well, this post went where it went, as it had no outline… In short, I hope that you are enjoying the holiday season in whatever way makes you happy, and I wish you peace and success in the new year!
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