Red Zones are war-torn and deserted. No populace to convert here, and you might as well keep your guns out because as soon as you’re spotted you’re in trouble. Most of your Red Zone objectives revolve around “Kill this” and “Explode that” with brutal efficiency.
It’s an interesting twist on the typical Ubisoft formula—whether Yellow or Red, districts revolve around various hotspots like so many points on a Far Cry map. The difference being that here, at least in the Yellow Zones, those points often require a certain amount of subtlety.
But it’s all so staid and predictable. Part of the problem with Homefront—a small part of the problem—is this simulated war zone is so utterly mechanical. Once you’ve flipped a zone to the Resistance it’s forever a part of the Resistance, full of AI-controlled “Good Guys.”
This makes sense from a game perspective, since the one time Assassin’s Creed implemented “Oh damn, the Templars are retaking your towers” it was a distracting nightmare. It does take away from the tension, though. You just steadily sweep across the map in a tide of blue-shirted Resistance folks, steadily purging the Korean presence from every district and taming an already-easy game.
Worse still, the AI is across-the-board terrible. The stealth system is unpredictable, so sometimes enemies magically see you when you’re ten feet behind them. Other times you sprint past a patrol in broad daylight and hope the “They saw you!” meter doesn’t fill all the way. Actually, that’s what you’ll do most of the time.
And if you’re spotted and pulled into combat? You might as well die. It’s not that the guns don’t work. They do, and some are actually pretty decent! Bonus points go to a gun that shoots red, white, and blue fireworks, because that’s amazing. But the penalty for dying is so minimal (lose some trash items you would’ve sold for a pittance) it’s essentially nonexistent. You wake up on the floor of a Resistance safehouse with, I imagine, the world’s worst headache and then it’s off to the same capture point again.
You don’t even need to engage in combat for most of the capture points! Often, running straight to the objective and mashing “E” (the Use key) will flip the stronghold, magically delete all the enemies who were shooting at you, and fill the place with a bunch of Real Americans.
My kingdom for a patch
Those are design issues. Much more worrisome are a host of technical problems and general jankery. A partial list, over my fifteen hours:
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.