Platforms: X360, PS3, PC
THQ's Homefront Genuinely original settings are rare in video games. But THQ's Homefront -- a seemimgly generic, near-future first-person shooter -- boasts a storyline that's had many jaded gamers pricking up their ears. Set in 2027, it tells the story of an invading North Korean army sweeping its way across a greatly weakened United States, and casts the player as a
soldier in the home-grown resistance movement. Pretty compelling stuff.
So it's something of a letdown that Homefront's story -- penned by
celebrated screenwriter John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Conan the
Barbarian, and the superficially similar Red Dawn) -- looks to be one of
the most disappointing aspects of the game.
Calling the setting "a great germ of an idea," Joystiq's Justin McElroy was obviously bummed by Homefront's execution, taking swipes at its hamfisted product placement, its dated gameplay, and its lack of personality.
"The characters couldn't be more stereotypical and their interactions
couldn't be more cookie cutter," he writes. "If they're average Joes
protecting their homeland...they obviously haven't been informed about
Other critics found a little more to like. Praising Homefront's realistic presentation, IGN's
Colin Moriarty called the setting "unique and interesting...something
totally different." But he still can't seem to get enthusiastic about
the gameplay, calling it "unremarkable...it doesn't buck any
trends...not a paradigm shifting product...classic shooter fare."
Dammed with faint praise? Considering the story's seven chapters can
"easily be completed in five hours," the game's clearly poor value for
So what's the online play like? Fortunately, pretty good, according to
multiple critics. IGN's Moriarty enjoyed its variety-packed
customization options and its novel focus on team point-scoring rather than
individual success, and found it addictive enough to keep him coming back
despite some technical issues. 1UP's Jobert Atienza concurred, saying
Homefront's multiplayer is "where the game's real value lies, and it's certainly more than competent."
Despite the mediocre ratings, Homefront is already selling briskly. THQ announced Wednesday that day one sales have exceeded 375,000 in North America alone, a number that's sure to rise as the game ships out across Europe and Asia throughout the week.
But is it really worth a buy? Homefront's average rating is currently around the 75% mark. While there's considerable variety in the bottom-line scores, however,
there's an equal amount of consistency in the message. Don't buy
Homefront for its short, messy single-player, but if you're looking for a
new multiplayer shooter -- and you're already sick of Black Ops and the
other big names -- it's a solid choice.
Also Out Now:
Abigail and the Kingdom of Fairs
Casual download games aren't exactly renowned for their variety: usually you
get one story to play through, and that's it. But city-builder Abigail
and the Kingdom of Fairs packs two additional gameplay modes outside its
core tale of magical circuses, wizards, and elephants, both with their
own levels and objectives -- and that's quite a deal for as little as
Halo Reach: Defiant Map Pack
$10 -- or its equivalent in Microsoft moon money -- buys you the latest
Halo Reach map pack, which debuts this week on Xbox Live. Defiant
includes three regular maps spanning a human space station and
a wilderness Spartan training facility, and one new Firefight
co-operative map set in an open-cast titanium mine. At over $3 per map,
it's raising eyebrows over its price, but we're betting no shortage of
Halo enthusiasts will be more than happy to join in the fight.
Mishap 2: An Intentional Haunting
Acclaimed by critics as one of the best games the hidden-object genre has to
offer, this Namco-produced puzzler pits ghost-hunter Milton and his crew
of Misfits against a whole mansion of eccentric spirits. Sporting
gorgeous visuals -- and some decidedly tongue-in-cheek humor -- it's
well worth a look.
Shogun 2: Total War
Now in its 11th year, the Total War stratey series is going all the way
back to its roots in feudal Japan. Like the other Total War titles,
Shogun 2 takes place in both a large-scale strategic mode, where you'll
direct the military, economic, and political development of your clan,
and an up-close-and-personal tactical combat mode, where you'll take
personal control of your forces in battles involving as many as 56,000
soldiers. Sound like fun? The Total War games are a bit of an acquired
taste, but there's a dedicated cadre of PC gamers for whom this is one
of the year's most exciting releases.
Sega's big-budget, big-violence Yakuza series of Playstation action-adventure
games has long been a big deal overseas, but have never quite managed to capture the
imagination of Western audiences. Could Yakuza 4 be the one to break
the trend? Not according to the first few reviews -- IGN calls it "dated" and the story "cumbersome."
Top Spin 4
Platforms: X360, PS3, Wii
Tennis sim Top Spin 4 rounds out a week that's nothing if not varied.
Superstar Andre Agassi adorns the box, and 24 of his fellow pros
await purchasers inside. Featuring a set of popular tennis venues, competitions, and the ever-popular create-a-pro mode, it could be the perfect match.