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So, Dr. Foster-Carter, am I to understand you DON’T like Homefront, then?

Venturing into what he admits is unfamiliar territory, North Korea expert Aidan Foster-Carter critiques Homefront, which he calls a “sick, stupid Korean invasion fantasy.”

I’m not going to argue that the plot is anything less than absurd, that the marketing wasn’t annoying, or that switching the Chinese for the North Koreans wasn’t rather craven, if admittedly sensible from a business perspective. On that last point, though,  it is interesting to note that Homefront maker Kaos Studio’s previous game — the underrated (IMHO) Frontlines: Fuel of Wardid feature the Chinese as an enemy (even if most of the game is spent killing Russians).

Still, you’re dealing with a game whose premise in an occupied America. Given that it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which an invasion of the United States — a concept that is absurd enough — doesn’t end with the nation of the invading party being turned into a sheet of glass, the background scenario of any any kind of “occupied America” game, movie or book is going to be ridiculous. The background scenario exists simply to establish a setting. Sure, turning the North Koreans into an invading, occupying force requires a far greater suspension of disbelief than, say, battling invading Russians in the White House in COD: Modern Combat II, but it’s just a matter of degree.

Anyway, Dr. Foster-Carter concludes:

Or again, have I had a humor bypass? I think not. For the record, and perhaps unlike some at 38 North, I don’t have too much of a problem with Team America: World Police. Subtle, this was not, but the parody was inventive. And I suspect Kim Jong Il really is lonely.

Whereas Homefront is just stupid, and sick. A country where grown men make stuff like this for other grown men to play is not a healthy one. The real North Korea is bad enough, but it is not about to invade the USA—except in the lurid fantasies of the ineffable Kim Myong Chol, soi-disant DPRK spokesman and regular snorter of over-the-top bellicose rhetoric: “The next war will be better called the American War or the DPRK-U.S. War because the main theater will be the continental U.S., with major cities transformed into towering infernos.”

I bet he’ll buy a copy of Homefront. But he’s in Japan, so he’ll have to make do with the censored version where the KPA doesn’t even get the credit for all that mayhem. Bummer.

A country where grown men make stuff like this for other grown men to play is not a healthy one? OK, I suppose one could feel that way, but if you think Homefront is bad, take my advice and stay away from Manhunter and the Grand Theft Auto series, both of which were made by none other than Edinburgh’s own Rockstar North.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • Wedge

    If Aidan’s got trouble with that plot-line, don’t let him get his hands on this:

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/115/1153326p1.html

  • Granfalloon

    If I were going to criticize a FPS as being unrealistic, I don’t think I’d focus so much on the plot. But that’s me.

  • bumfromkorea

    @Granfalloon

    I would agree with that sentiment objectively (though not personally since I would let plot override bad gameplay when I decide how good a game is), but I think Homefront is a special case because the marketing had almost completely been about how great the storyline is and how the plot stirs something in your heart (it does, even if the gameplay is like 3 hours long…).

    @ Robert

    I think most “occupied America” media meets at least most people’s limit of the suspension of disbelief. You just gotta forget about all the early warning system/fail-safes/intelligence agencies (which isn’t too hard to do), and it kinda makes sense… With Homefront though, you also have to forget about South Korean & Japanese people’s sanity / China / gasoline / food / economy / international diplomacy / time it takes to build… things / etc. I think that’s where most people are having trouble with the realism in this game. :D

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Anyone over age 18 who wants to play one of these idiotic games first should re required successfully to complete ROKMC basic camp or equivalent.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    It almost sounds as if he’s bitter because nobody invited him over to play Atari when he was a kid.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    #4, My friend was in a special forces unit and he stil likes to play “these idiotic games”. How depressing is that?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Depressing, but he’s earned it.

  • Hamilton

    “Anyone over age 18 who wants to play one of these idiotic games first should re required successfully to complete ROKMC basic camp or equivalent.”

    I’m curious why you would feel that way. Is this strictly related to computer games or does it extend to war games, books or movies? I’ve heard “Sucker Punch” is god-awful and strangely have a deep desire to see it.

    I can’t pass ROKMC basic camp. I’m not Korean so they wouldn’t let me in. I would have no problem passing either the USMC or US Army basic again.

  • Demo

    Well, I am over 18 and have played the game. What follows is an idiots’ account. It is awful. Heavily, heavily scripted, unskippable, apple-pie spewing cut scenes every 5 minutes, novice voice acting (what’s up with repeating the mission instructions every 5 seconds? You can’t even get out of earshot as there is sporadic 3d or spatial-sensitive sound; there is no difference in volume from 100m or 10 cm.), mediocre visuals (stiff animations, some slowdowns), frequently getting ‘stuck’ in maps and pushed over cliffs and off ledges by AI battling for their position which will initiate the next cut scene. The game is a genuine stinker on the most fundamental levels. Poorly-done propaganda better characterizes what it is.

  • PineForest

    I think he’s had the humor bypass. Sperwer, playing video games is a lot more interactive than watching a movie. More engaging in every way. I think people with good imaginations are able to get more immersed in games than others. Not sure why you’re so down on it.