(15) ¶ PS3 (also 360 & PC)

For most the war is already won; the Call of Duty franchise has become not only one of the most popular on consoles, but also one of the most lucrative. It has also become the benchmark in all things world warring amongst first person shooters.

You have to be either very brave or stupid to attempt to steal its thunder; or in the case of EA and their Medal of Honour/Battlefield franchises, just have tankfuls of cash.

Stepping up to the metal plate in the head is developer Kaos Studios; their first game was 2008ís so-so Frontline: Fuel of War, so Homefront is only their second effort. They may have the balls to take on the world dominators, but do they have the big guns?

Itís the not-so-near future, and North Korea has become a major player in world affairs. On top of that, the US of A has had both its reputation and military might diminished, leaving it a pale shadow of its former self.

So much so that the Koreans, now going by the name of the Greater Korean Republic, successfully invade American soil in 2027.

You play Robert Jacobs, a former Marine helicopter pilot, who is woken up in what looks like a squat house by some unpleasant chaps, who drag him onto a bus to a detention camp for not joining the draft of the occupation forces.

Luckily for him his bus gets ambushed by a group of American Resistance fighters, and itís here that he accidently signs up for the cause. From this point, itís US against them.

boom reviews - Homefront image
So tell me who we're fighting this time? And you're sure they're not zombies?

The most compelling aspect of this game is the story that drives it. It was written by Hollywood writer/director John Milius, whose major claim to fame is writing Apocalypse Now. Although itís difficult to work out exactly how much work he put into it though, as the plot is eerily similar to the 1894 film Red Dawn Ė set in an alternate 1980ís where the Soviet Union invade the US Ė that was also written and directed by, you guessed it, John Milius.

Still, it makes a nice change from crawling around in mud and guts, trying to avoid being rumbled by the Viet-Cong, Germans, etc. However, the main problem with having the war on US turf is that it doesnít look all that different from any other post apocalyptic scenario. In fact half the time you expect to be jumped upon by a zombie in a shopping mall rather than be shot by a Korean.

It also appears to be part of this recent trend to have other characters shepherd you gently through all the levels. Why thereís this need to have your hand held at every opportunity in first person shooters is a mystery. Itís ok to have a little support now and again, but all the time is just frustrating.

The single player isnít helped in being pathetically short. You know youíre in trouble when it can be completed in around five hours at a push. The game doesnít do itself any favours either by hiding the opportunity of changing the difficulty level of the game in a sub, sub, sub menu. It is fun while it lasts, itís just a shame it isnít that long.

The multiplayer fares a little better, particularly with the ability to get involved in 32 player scrapes if you so desire. Unfortunately though, the maps are nowhere near as well thought out as any of the ones youíll find in the Call of Duty games, with nothing truly distinctive about any of them.

Homefront goes to show that thereís certainly room for a serious COD contender, but it also proves, despite a brave attempt, that this game isnít it. Yep, it can certainly be brutal out there on the battlefield.

three out of five