Bored on the home front

Can a great story make up for horrendous gameplay? Though it clocks in short for an Xbox360 title (which has led me not to buy it for the moment), I was interested to read Seth Schiesel’s review of THQ’s new FPS, Homefront. (I like reading him in large part because he reminds me of the “culture of technology / gaming” writing that I used to do.)

“The basic shooting and combat mechanisms in Homefront are standard fare,” Schiesel writes. “What makes Homefront stand out from all the other shooting games is its setting and its ambition to grapple with a vision of what could happen in the real world if absolutely everything were to go wrong.”

Sounds good, thinks I, I’ll have to pick this up once it’s a bit cheaper. But then I dial in Rock, Paper, Shotgun: “Homefront is barely a game,” writes John Walker. That sounds fair to me too. John is hardcore(-ish) and historical-minded (where games are concerned); he’s fully qualified to make that call. If his judgement of the gameplay is a bit harsher than Schiesel’s, I put it down to beauty being in the eye of the beholder — and keep in mind that John’s is perhaps the more discerning eye.

His judgement of the story, however, makes for more interesting contrast: Continue reading