Death Is Easy

Russell Madden

Freedom As If It Mattered

As If
It Mattered
Russell Madden

Guardian Project

The Guardian
Russell Madden


Russell Madden




Russell Madden



A recent game I played, Homefront portrays a near-future world in which North Korea invades the United States. While there are good things about this PS3 game, in the end, I sold my game to Amazon for a $35 in-store credit. Ya takes ya chances... What follows is the review I posted on Amazon (slightly edited for clarity).

I’m 58, and have played about all the COD (Call of Duty) games, Battlefield 2, MOH (the latest Medal of Honor), and others. I can get through these games but will never be as good as some teen boy at either the single or multiplayer options. It took me about 8 hours to get through the single player, but partially because I missed a game assist (more on this later).

I was drawn to the game because of its theme of fighting for freedom. There is a bit of this, but I guess even the “shocking” scenes [of executions and mass graves] didn't seem all that shocking in today’s jaded era. I liked the overall story and some of the realities of fighting a guerilla-style war: citizens who just want to get along [with the enemy]; others who take advantage of the war for their own benefit; screw-ups that happen [friendly-fire]... I wish there was more development of these elements. I didn’t feel much of anything for the characters. Even at the end of MOH, I felt a bit when the wounded soldier died. Not so much here. Pity.

The graphics: the backgrounds seemed detailed enough to me, overall, but were certainly stylistically different than other such recent games. Sometimes the character animation seemed lacking: feet that didn't really “touch” the ground, odd ticks, etc. Too often the characters seemed pasted in rather than integral to the background. (Cf to Battlefield 3’s latest videos for the opposite effect.)

There were parts of the game I enjoyed quite a bit. Other parts had me yelling at the TV in frustration.

SPOILERS: Problem areas: auto-lock on too often “stuck” on enemies not close to the actual one I was trying to shoot; word hints (enter church or whatever) sometimes obscured the enemies, making it difficult to see them even on a 46 inch HD LED screen, leading to unnecessary deaths; save points that required redoing too many tasks (suffered by other games: how about a save point after accomplishing each difficult goal rather than endless repetition?); enemies that were unrealistically great shots/too lethal to me; too many on-screen hints at some points, not enough at others; rocket emplacements that required an unholy number of hits to be destroyed; walking upright through fields to avoid being seen by enemies but fields with almost no cover (cf COD game crawling through the grass to avoid being spotted by nearby enemies). In one annoying (a glitch?) sequence, we were in a Target-type store. My character was supposed to “follow” another, but the other guy just kept running back and forth — not doing anything, not shooting, nothing — back and forth like a chicken with its head cut off. He would not advance. Not until my character moved forward did the story/game start again. The first couple of times I did that, I was immediately slaughtered. Eventually, I got past that sequence, but my “leader” still engaged in a lot of pointless running around. I was really happy when we finally left that stupid store...

SPOILERS: Re: hints: in one sequence, the passengers have to exit a helicopter your character is flying at ground level and enter three fuel trucks on the move. (Don't ask...) It took me a long while to figure out what to do to get the characters to exit the chopper and enter the trucks. A simple “use square button” at the start of the sequence would have saved me a lot of time. Another issue that made me redo sequences with RPGs and missiles far too many times was not realizing I was supposed to use “countermeasures” then. I had to figure out how to get through the sequences by simply dodging and weaving (not easy when you’re being fired upon from four different directions). Again, a simple “use X button” hint would have reminded me of what I glimpsed in the manual but did not remember during the play. (I went back after finishing the game and used the countermeasures: much easier the second time around.)

I liked some of the gun play; liked shooting a sniper rifle; thought some of the story was good; thought the characters had potential, though my character was a near-total cipher.

I played a few rounds of the multiplayer. (I play COD:BOps [Black Ops] and Uncharted 2 online; mostly enjoy those.) A bit frustrating. Again, hot shots (almost literally) who killed me with a couple shots, while my multiple rounds accomplished little. Fun. Not. The maps and graphics seemed okay but with certainly a different feel from COD. Maybe the maps are too big; seemed too empty. Also, I can sort of appreciate the high angle start above the map when you regenerate (to give you an overview of what's happening) then the zoom when you “land,” but this seems to slow things down too much as does the requirement before every rebirth to select your weapons. I prefer COD where the game gives you the same load-outs throughout a battle unless you request in-game to switch on the next respawn. I doubt I’ll play much multiplayer here. (I didn’t notice any lag, but then, I didn’t get on until 1:00 a.m., either.)

I’ll give the game 3 stars, but would prefer 3 1/2. Can’t quite rate it a 4. I paid $40 for this after a $20 credit for buying an earlier game from Amazon. I think I would have been more upset if I’d paid the full $60.

The game has its moments. It could have been better.

(from Don’t Get Me Started!, 3-24-11)