The other day I thought to myself, I fancy a game of Homefront online.
Having put the disc in and fired it up, I found to my dismay that the servers for Homefront were no more. Following the demise of THQ, Crytek (who were developing Homefront 2 anyway), bought the rights to the whole franchise, but they haven’t as yet turned the servers back on following the transition. That was a couple of months ago now, so a return to the battlegrounds of Homefront is looking increasingly unlikely.
Chances are you are shrugging a “so what?” right now. This probably means you’re one of the many who either didn’t bother with the game at all or were put off by one or all of the following things:
A very short campaign, questionable AI, an online component with little in the way of game modes or customisation, problems connecting with parties and friends.
But there were those of us who saw past these issues. We looked beyond the problems and the lacklustre first impressions. We cracked the surface and found diamonds beneath.
The campaign may have been four hours’ worth at best, but they were filled with explosive action. The story may have been preposterous, but it was believably told with emotional impact. And the multiplayer? Oh man, the multiplayer. Before Battlefield 3 arrived to steal our hearts and our time, Homefront gave us a brilliant multiplayer experience that – for those who really embraced it – surpassed anything Call of Duty was bringing to the table.
On large, well-designed maps, Homefront used a simple, but perfect mechanic to shape its online struggles. With every kill, assist or captured objective, you accumulated XP that you could spend right there and then in the heat of battle on war gear or other perks. Or, once you’d been killed, you could spend XP to respawn in a teammate’s vehicle or in one of your own. And the more XP you saved up, the greater the vehicles – from armoured trucks to tanks and gunships.
This resulted in games of Homefront starting out relatively subdued, but they would grow into chaotic confrontations as players called in armoured support, choppers and airstrikes.
Homefront multiplayer may not have had the technical brilliance or scope of the Battlefield series, or the tight, smooth gameplay of Call of Duty. But damn it was fun. And there is a bunch of us out there who mourn its loss.
Homefront is dead. Long live Homefront 2. Come on Crytek – make it happen.