War Comes Home


It’s the near future and the world has succumbed to years of economic turmoil. In the midst of worldwide strife, North Korea aggressively annexes South Korea, declaring itself as the Greater Korean Republic. The GKR soon expands to its neighbors, eventually overtaking the entire Pacific Rim, creating a military and economic super power nearly overnight.

With the Pacific Rim countries firmly under its control, the GKR sets its sights on America, a once powerful country slowly recovering from the global economic downturn. It starts with the detonation of an EMP high in the atmosphere over the US, knocking out most of the country’s electrical grid. The army – numbering in the millions – then swoops into the country and turns the Mississippi River into an irradiated nuclear dump, effectively splitting the country in two.

Without power and its military crippled, the United States succumbs to Korean occupation, forcing citizens to band together in small communities of resistance. Homefront picks up two years into the occupation, in the year 2027. Playing as a newly-recruited resistance fighter, you’ll join a small pocket of rebels in their effort to help retake America one town at a time.

During a brief hands-off demo at their booth, THQ and developer Kaos made it clear they are going for a different sort of shooter with Homefront. The game still packs in plenty of FPS action, but the team is also trying to help players develop a stronger emotional bond with the game. The first step is involves a post-occupation of America, creating what was described as “making the familiar, alien.”

The demo opened with your character waking up in a decrepit house in the suburbs that has been turned into a makeshift military base. Boone, a squad leader with the resistance, approaches the player and offers to give a tour of the base. Stepping through the rusty screen door, we’re presented with our first glimpse of what Kaos is attempting to do with its visual story. The backyard could be anyone’s backyard, complete with a giant oak tree and swing set. But, there’s an unsettling mix of “Everytown, U.S.A.” and signs of a town torn apart by war. The yard is covered with military workstations, equipment in various states of repair and covered by camouflaged netting to hide the location from aerial spies.

Boone begins to describe daily life for the resistance, explaining they are a completely self-sufficient community. They grow everything they eat and generate their own electricity with small wind generators and solar panels. It’s here the struggles of life in occupied America come tumbling down on the player. Everyone greets you with a blank, careworn stare. A man struggles to keep peddling a stationary bike-turned-generator in the background. Everything is being told through the game’s engine without the use of pre-rendered story sequences. As evidenced by the opening, it’s an effective method.

The demo then skipped ahead a chapter, this time placing the player in a nighttime raid on a Lumber Liquidators. Another pillar of Homefront’s effort to make players care is including familiar brands. After meeting a female resistance fighter, the duo steps out to an over watch position near the hardware store. A quick glance to the right also reveals a Hooters restaurant. Both locales have seen better days and are now overrun with signs of battle. Once again, the familiar is now alien.

This part of the demo also showcased the brutal lengths the resistance fighters were willing to go to in order to liberate their town. When the player first meets the other rebel, she’s in the midst of vicious choking attack on a Korean soldier. Later in the mission, a fiery mortar comes crashing down on the Korean troops assembled in the parking lot. The soldiers are immediately engulfed in flames, allowing the player a clear shot at picking off any who weren’t killed in the initial bombardment.

The tables are soon turned when another mortar misses its mark and explodes over the player’s position, sending him crashing down into the flame-filled chaos below his sniping position. The player and his ally are able to work their way through the fires – again, all in-game and player controlled – to a tower, only to have it collapse.

The demo ends in a bleak fight for the trio of rebels. They’re outnumbered and in the worst possible conditions. The lone glimmer of hope is an armored remote vehicle, the Goliath, which comes crashing into the area just in time. With the Goliath in play, the player is able to mark targets for the massive machine’s guns.

Homefront paints a bleak future for the United States, but looks to present a promising blend of storytelling and gameplay. Look for it early next year.