I never played the original Homefront, but I’m vaguely familiar with it. I remember hearing it was a mediocre game. That bummed me out because I love the idea of a game where America gets invaded, and you get to be a guerilla fighter. Why we never got a Red Dawn game is beyond me. I did play Homefront Revolution for about two hours when it first came out, and it was a giant buggy mess. However, six years later, I decided to give it another go, and I’m glad I did.
The bugs and frame rate issues are seemingly fixed, and we get a first-person shooter that puts us in the role of a guerilla fighter in an alternative history of 2029. In this world, North Korea is a dominant force and a major superpower. America fell into debt and defaulted, causing an invasion by North Korea and its advanced military force. You are a guerilla in Philadelphia getting a modern take on the revolutionary war.
You’re part of a small band of rebels who resist the North Korean occupation. The story is mostly skippable and unremarkable. We get a handful of characters, and all but two are somewhat forgettable. The bad guys are just the North Korean troops and officers, no real nameable villains. Most story elements revolve around giving you an excuse to get in firefights and blow stuff up. I’m perfectly fine with that because it wasn’t the story that captured me; it was the world of the game.
America Under Siege
Homefront Revolution is an open-world sandbox-style game. It’s not exactly a huge sprawling world, but a combination of different zones that are all fairly small and compact. They are dense areas, though, that never feel small, but they aren’t big wastelands of nothing. There is seemingly always something going on and something always to be aware of. There is also verticality, and climbing up and around buildings can be a legit way to get around.
Each of these worlds is either a green, red, or yellow zone. Red zones are open battlefields and bombed-out portions of Philly. Here you’ll run into patrols, tanks, and roaming airships you have to avoid. You’ll find snipers waiting for you to make the wrong move, and you’ll see other resistance members engaging in open warfare.
Yellow zones are civilian ghettoes where there are patrols, drones, and various light armored vehicles roam around. Here you can run into regular people alongside soldiers. The soldiers are always looking for you, and as a wanted resistance member, you have to keep your head down.
Green zones are the North Korean strongholds where the upper crust of North Koreans live, as well as diplomats and American traitors. It’s heavily patrolled by NK forces, complete with soldiers, tanks, drones, and more. Starting a fight here is tough, and stealth is your friend.
The Minimanual of the Guerilla
I will say each zone is unique and interesting. The red zones make you feel like you are in a bombed-out city. Buildings are crumbling, and you can scale and parkour your way around. You can get in street-to-street gunfights. You might need to pin down a sniper so you can cross the street to take them down. In the beginning, you might only be doing that with your handgun, and that’s thrilling.
The weather effects are fantastic. In the game, the sun had set, and a raging thunderstorm moved in. Rain and lighting were pounding the environment, and the light from trash fires set the mood as I crept through the wrecked urban sprawl.
A patrol walked the streets, and I crept into the third story of a building where a barrel trap sat. I released the barrels on the patrols and opened fire with a light machine gun. I killed three troops and a couple of drones. The mothership moved in, and I had to hit and run before I it found me and turned me into a pink mist.
In the yellow zone, you’ll run into people being harassed and homes being raided. You can choose to provide aid or avoid it altogether. When civilians see your weapons, they’ll scurry away or even straight up tell you to leave because the Resistance just causes trouble for them.
As you spend more time in the zone accomplishing objectives and missions, you’ll win the hearts and minds of the people. They will then rebel and begin fighting back, and the patrols will lessen significantly. That’s the world the game builds, and it’s fantastic.
The Homefront Revolution guns are a mixture of fictional and real. What’s neat is that while there are only a few guns in the game, the game allows you to upgrade them to various configurations. You can swap your M4 assault rifle to an LMG configuration by swapping the upper receiver. You literally just pop the upper off and toss on the belt-fed upper. This changes the caliber to 7.62 NATO as well. Or you can turn it into a grenade launcher.
Your handgun allows you to rip the slide off of your gun and then toss on an SMG upper and stock, almost like a RONI or KPOS conversion. The pistol is some odd configuration of 1911, M9, and maybe P226, but it looks real. The shotgun is a Mossberg 590/500 series that can be converted to a Sidewinder-style drum-fed automatic shotgun or the Inferno launcher.
The SOCOM 16 is your battle rifle, which can become a sniper rifle in .50 BMG or into the Freedom Launcher that launches fireworks at bad guys. There is also a Crossbow that can transform into an awesome blunderbuss or a flamethrower as well. It’s a neat system overall.
On top of these swaps, you can add optics, vertical grips, lasers, and a few more gizmos to make your gun work for you. You can also wear gear that affects your weaponry, like a tactical vest, to carry more ammo.
Homefront Revolution — An Underrated Classic
When the game was released, it got terrible reviews, mostly tied to its technical issues. All these years later, those issues seem resolved. It’s a fun game that makes you feel like a guerilla. Your armament is interesting, and the game environment provides a unique experience. Homefront Revolution is a great first-person shooter, and I look forward to playing the three DLCs that came with it.