Non-Americans Can Like Homefront, Too

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Non-Americans Can Like Homefront, Too

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Homefront may be about an occupied and conquered United States of America, but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

In a world flooded with brown-colored modern military multiplayer shooters like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, Kaos Studios' Homefront stands out thanks to an unusual premise: By the year 2026, natural and economic catastrophes have left the United States of America a pale shadow of its former superpower self. In contrast, shrewd maneuvering by Kim Jong-un, the son of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, means that the isolated totalitarian state undergoes a resurgence, conquering much of eastern Asia and forming the Greater Korean Republic - think Japan, circa World War II. A devastating EMP blast takes out the American infrastructure, and the Koreans invade and occupy, scattering the US military.

"One of our canons that we built the game world around is that 'the familiar has become alien,'" the game's creative director Dave Votypka told The Escapist at a recent multiplayer event, citing examples from John Milius' 1984 film Red Dawn. "These main streets where there are these small, peaceful, little American bakeries and shops ... but there's Russian soldiers and tanks and barbed wire there, too. And it's like 'Wow, there's something wrong with that picture.'" It was a powerful image and concept, said Votypka, and one around which development started.

North Korea only became the antagonist later down the line in the game's development, thanks to its very public anti-Western stance and occasionally belligerent nature. "[It's] not really a brush that we're painting them with that they haven't already painted themselves with," said Votykpa. "[That's] the springboard for, 'okay, so what if this regime - who clearly has the motivation - so what if they actually also had the way?'"

However, given the game's speculative fiction nature - rather than being grounded in a real-world conflict - he doesn't think that Homefront will suffer from the same public backlash that faced games like Medal of Honor and the ill-fated Six Days in Fallujah. "Ours is almost 20 years in the future, and there's not a current war going on with Americans' - or other nations' - sons and daughters in the military being killed in that war fighting a current-day enemy ... it's speculative fiction, and it's saying: based on the regime today, here's a storyline that we crafted on how they evolve. It's not like you have your brother off in Afghanistan fighting and we're telling you a story about that, it's a fictional story trying to look into the future."

Even though the game is set in America and stars Americans as the protagonists, Votypka thinks that audiences outside of America will still be able to empathize with the situation at hand. It isn't so much that much of the world is familiar with the USA thanks to movies and television (though that certainly helps), as it is the themes that Homefront embodies, which Kaos thinks are universal.

"Homefront is really less about America per se, and it's more about defending your homeland, your living room, the place you sleep, your family, things that are dear to you. And that's what the sort of Homefront name really applies to, that it could happen in France - in Paris, London, Beijing or whatever. Any country is applicable, it's about defending something that you care about and that's dear to you."

Kaos wants to make a game that shies away from the clean, high-tech battlefields of other shooters, which is why the Homefront character is a civilian. "What we're doing is - we're fighting as a resistance soldier instead of using a super soldier, a modern military guy with very little emotion, where you're a cold trained killer and you've got a bunch of other cold trained killers with tanks and helicopters and all the weapons that you'd want."

"In this, you're a civilian who's being oppressed, who has turned freedom fighter and you're doing whatever you can to fight for something that you care about - your home, as opposed to being told by a general, 'go take this country' and not really having any associations or connections." It's this take on the human side of warfare - and the things worth fighting for - that Votypka and Kaos hope will strike a chord with gamers. "I think there's a lot of the resistance side - the guerrilla resistance feel - and the emotional storytelling and human cost of war, that you don't really see portrayed in, really, any other shooter I can think of."

Homefront is out everywhere early March for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

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but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

Of course non-Americans will like Homefront. The big bully United States taken down by North Korea? They'll be laughing at us all the way to the end credits.

The_root_of_all_evil:

but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

American soldier: "OH my god, those North Korean bastards killed Carson Daly!"

Me: "Oh... yeah, that, guy... girl... err, who? Friends, I know the cast of Friends, that show was on repeat in UK for the best part of 2 decades, did the Koreans kill any of them?"

John Funk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded. Forgoing the idea that North Korea could EVER come up with a working EMP, HOW the hell are they even going to GET HERE? Let alone find enough troops to occupy HALF the United States?

Why is it always America that gets invaded by the Russians/Chinese and now North Koreans? Europe getting invaded is a far more plausible scenario, what with us all living practically next door to Vladimir Psycho's Russia and all.

John Funk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

But it just looks so long with all those WORDS and stuff.

Homefront wasn't even on my radar before, but speculative fiction in an FPS? My interest is definitely piqued.

I don't understand. Frontlines: Fuel of War used a similar concept and I never heard of any complaint about the setting (sure I heard lots of complaints just not about the setting). Why is this one so different?

And what difference does it make which country you live in. I am not some medievil knight living under the constant threat of a dragon attack but I can still enjoy games in that setting.

HankMan:
Of course non-Americans will like Homefront. America taken down by North Korea? They'll be laughing at us all the way to the end credits.

Aw, you beat me to it.

But yeah, I imagine lots of people cheering on the North Koreans, especially if the standard media depiction of American heroes pops up.

HankMan:

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded.

The Half-Life series is about a mute, bespectacled genius with a legendary crowbar that's more epic than... Anything ever, and it follows his time travelin' adventures and alien slaying, and yet it's one of the best FPS series around.

Bad/"retarded" plots do not make a bad game.

Why are occupations only bad when they happen to us?

I wonder if the Iraqis and Afghanis feel the way this game is supposed to make us feel. If they wanted the game to create an emotional reaction, they'd have set the game there instead of some ridiculous Red Dawn universe.

coldalarm:

HankMan:

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded.

The Half-Life series is about a mute, bespectacled genius with a legendary crowbar that's more epic than... Anything ever, and it follows his time travelin' adventures and alien slaying, and yet it's one of the best FPS series around.

Bad/"retarded" plots do not make a bad game.

Exactly my point^
But the plot for Half Life is still WAY more plausible than Homefront >)
No problem with the game itself, just the writing.

HankMan:

John Funk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded. Forgoing the idea that North Korea could EVER come up with a working EMP, HOW the hell are they even going to GET HERE? Let alone find enough troops to occupy HALF the United States?

I saw in Pre-realease footage that North Korea were annexing many countrys, Steam-rolling its way to America, Countrys near America could of been Occupied.

I don't get why people are so hung up on the US being pwnt by North Korea. Its fiction, just roll with it.

megs1120:
Why are occupations only bad when they happen to us? I wonder if the Iraqis and Afghanis feel the way this game is supposed to make us feel.

Ah, but they were liberated, not conquered big difference. If they had been conquered, the wouldn't have put Taliban supporters back in charge in Afghanistan, and not passed laws so that men can starve their wives to death if they resist being raped.

John Funk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

lol, its the second time I see you defend the game's scenario, I believe that not all people read everything. Keep up the good work

Then, if this is merely speculative fiction, why not opt for a different speculative story that paints the US as antagonists for a change as opposed to the always good-guy protagonists that defend all that is right and true?

Oh wait...that's right. That wouldn't sell as well to western audiences, now would it? *sigh*

I can't speak as to the story itself since I haven't played this game nor have I seen any of its points. But that doesn't mean that its outset premise is still filled with something I've grown to expect really, nor is it all that innovative with its premise either (For one IO's Freedom Fighters have already done it once before). So sure...maybe the story was pulled off in a better way, I wouldn't know.

But don't try to fool yourself by saying that the premise isn't rooted in perceptions and bias that is fuelled by western media. I am quite certain that if a game of 'speculative fiction' would ever be released, where the world would have to fight off the US from an attempt to control the world (hardly that much of a stretch given how active it has been recently abroad militarily and covertly), it would never be as well-recieved or acclaimed by most critics and audiences - even if its story was executed well enough. Heck, the fact that no game with such a premise has even come into popular knowledge speaks for itself

You can make a good thing out of anything, true. And who knows, I as a Non-American might genuinely like this game if it is done well story-wise. But the premises will *always* remain the same and will always be rooted in the same underlying bias as usual. The west is the best and anyone who opposes us isn't.

John Funk:

The_root_of_all_evil:

but the creative director of the game thinks that its themes and values are universal.

It really would have helped if you'd picked a slightly less controversial and slightly more believable scenario. Like Episode 3 coming out on time.

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

But they're so well written, why would someone not read them?

Are people that lazy?

Anyway, whether NK could do it isn't even the point. China's economy is too tied to ours, Russia hasn't been it's old self lately, and those are pretty much the primary countries on the "Could potentially take the US in a fight" list. Iran and a few others have the motive, but that'd be a tad too controversial.

And twenty years in the future NK could be doing a lot better than this. Maybe.

Regardless, the point is about the US (or according to the dev, your homeland) being invaded.

megs1120:
Why are occupations only bad when they happen to us?

I wonder if the Iraqis and Afghanis feel the way this game is supposed to make us feel. If they wanted the game to create an emotional reaction, they'd have set the game there instead of some ridiculous Red Dawn universe.

I think there's probably no question that they would feel the same - "it's only bad if it happens to us" isn't the feel that I think they're going for. Isn't it understandable that the developers and creators (who are American) would set the game in, y'know, their own country? It'd be silly to, say, criticize the makers of Metro 2033 for setting the game in Russia because of that.

cocoro67:

HankMan:

John Funk:

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded. Forgoing the idea that North Korea could EVER come up with a working EMP, HOW the hell are they even going to GET HERE? Let alone find enough troops to occupy HALF the United States?

I saw in Pre-realease footage that North Korea were annexing many countrys, Steam-rolling its way to America, Countrys near America could of been Occupied.

I knew it! THOSE BASTARD MAPLE LEAF, SYRUP DRINKING HOCKEY GOONS SOLD US OUT DIDN'T THEY!?!

This game is looking great from what I have seen, by the way, THQ just released a new video on Homefront today:

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/multiplayer-interview-homefront/709510

That Battle Commander idea sounds very interesting.

Loonerinoes:
Then, if this is merely speculative fiction, why not opt for a different speculative story that paints the US as antagonists for a change as opposed to the always good-guy protagonists that defend all that is right and true?

Oh wait...that's right. That wouldn't sell as well to western audiences, now would it? *sigh*

I can't speak as to the story itself since I haven't played this game nor have I seen any of its points. But that doesn't mean that its outset premise is still filled with something I've grown to expect really, nor is it all that innovative with its premise either (For one IO's Freedom Fighters have already done it once before). So sure...maybe the story was pulled off in a better way, I wouldn't know.

But don't try to fool yourself by saying that the premise isn't rooted in perceptions and bias that is fuelled by western media. I am quite certain that if a game of 'speculative fiction' would ever be released, where the world would have to fight off the US from an attempt to control the world (hardly that much of a stretch given how active it has been recently abroad militarily and covertly), it would never be as well-recieved or acclaimed by most critics and audiences - even if its story was executed well enough.

You can make a good thing out of anything, true. And who knows, this game might genuinely be done well story-wise. But the premises will *always* remain the same and will always be rooted in the same underlying bias as usual. The west is the best and anyone who opposes us isn't.

Because... the developers are based in New York City and are thus, presumably, American? And would be more comfortable setting a game in their own country, particularly when the entire point is an emotional reaction about "what's familiar is twisted"?

It's not a hard concept...

cocoro67:

HankMan:

John Funk:

After playing the game, I actually really don't have a problem with the scenario. They present it well, and as he says in the piece, it's completely speculative fiction.

And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

I do! I'm probably gunna get this game anyway. But the premise IS pretty retarded. Forgoing the idea that North Korea could EVER come up with a working EMP, HOW the hell are they even going to GET HERE? Let alone find enough troops to occupy HALF the United States?

I saw in Pre-realease footage that North Korea were annexing many countrys, Steam-rolling its way to America, Countrys near America could of been Occupied.

They'd still have to cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean to do that. Wouldn't it make more sense to take over Europe and Asia first?

JerrytheBullfrog:
Because... the developers are based in New York City and are thus, presumably, American? And would be more comfortable setting a game in their own country, particularly when the entire point is an emotional reaction about "what's familiar is twisted"?

It's not a hard concept...

Of course it isn't a hard concept. And I understand it completely! I'm just saying...it's getting tiresome to twist the familiar. It'd be interesting for a shooter to actually introduce you to something new, have you grow to really like it and see it may not be as different from what you've already known before, THEN have it shattered and engaging you, the player, to fight for it.

That is a far harder concept to pull off - to have the audience empathize with something they previously considered to be different from what they know, but would be more worthwhile really. Instead...the easy way is to go for the familiar and twist it. Now, there's nothing wrong with that tbh. But if this is considered somehow 'radical' when it comes to shooters then just...dudes, you're way behind the curve. And anytime one of these supposedly 'controversial' games comes out that brings us 'something new' (as I've said - already saw a very gritty approach to this by Freedom Fighters, and IO weren't even American heh...just selling to the American market obviously), I always think to myself that it'd be far more controversial to take the opposing approach rather than the popular one for just once.

Quite frankly, as I've said, I don't ultimately care that much because I like twisting the familiar approach a fair few times too. Hell, Dragon Age might indeed overindulge in the tropes, but I still liked the twist to the Darkspawn in the expansion and I still liked certain very familiar themes being explored somewhat differently. And I am sure I could like that approach in a game such as Homefront too!

Just please...don't sell it as 'something ***SPECIAL***' because it really really isn't. Though obviously if they want to exploit whatever 'controvesy' comes out of this for marketing purposes eh...I understand why they keep trying to milk it for what its worth in that case I suppose.

I don't know why this premise is controversial. I just think that it is stupid and completely impossible. So if anyone can explain why it is controversial, thanks.

John Funk:

"I think there's a lot of the resistance side - the guerrilla resistance feel - and the emotional storytelling and human cost of war, that you don't really see portrayed in, really, any other shooter I can think of."

Well, fine, I can't name a shooter that has extremely emotional story telling (I'm sure that some one else can), But the human cost of war was a major theme of Medal of Honor 2010.

Loonerinoes:
Then, if this is merely speculative fiction, why not opt for a different speculative story that paints the US as antagonists for a change as opposed to the always good-guy protagonists that defend all that is right and true?

Oh wait...that's right. That wouldn't sell as well to western audiences, now would it? *sigh*

It wouldn't sell well in the US, but in plenty of other places it'd be welcome, for the novelty if nothing else.

Saucycardog:
This game is looking great from what I have seen, by the way, THQ just released a new video on Homefront today:

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/multiplayer-interview-homefront/709510

That Battle Commander idea sounds very interesting.

Looks interesting, have to see if it works.

HankMan:

I knew it! THOSE BASTARD MAPLE LEAF, SYRUP DRINKING HOCKEY GOONS SOLD US OUT DIDN'T THEY!?!

What? They asked nicely.

OT: Can we please stop having the USA invaded? We can still have strong Anglo-Saxon male characters with simple names elsewhere in the world besides the USA you know. Maybe have a British guy in Poland or India or something outside the norm.

I might still rent it though.

Oh, I'm already used to no games being set in my country. And when they are they always get it wrong anyway. There are no mountains here, Battlefield and Call of Duty!

I don't mind defending America (again).

While I have a hard time buying such an absurd plot even as speculative fiction (North Korea...really? really?), I do have to admit that I might enjoy a game like this. Heck, I enjoyed Freedom Fighters (which was quite cheesy) and this doesn't seem much worse.

HankMan:
Of course non-Americans will like Homefront. The big bully United States taken down by North Korea? They'll be laughing at us all the way to the end credits.

Watch the trailer, it's pretty good. Better than that dodgy Black Ops vid. ActivisionBlizzard, both make lame as trailers.

On topic, the back story trailer presents North Korea taking over South Korea to form the Greater Korea Republic. They continue assimilating areas around them, much like the Javanese have done for the better half of the last century. They managed to take China, from the looks of it they went after China as well. They'd want to given how many times both China and Japan have invaded Korea before as well. Then they take what looks like parts of the Russian/Asian area, possibly Europe? Launch a satellite carrying an EMP into space, then detonate over North America.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq control the oil supplies, and if they held onto them completely then the USA really would shut down. Their military wouldn't, they have enough stockpiles for a while, but that would dry up eventually. So no electronics, no fuel. There goes their air force, most of armored ground forces, some of their navy. The nuclear powered boats would be ok.

So you have the Greater Korean Republic consisting of Korea, Japan, China, lower Russia/upper Asia invading the USA. Odds are definitely on GKR to win. Of course, the civilian winning is total rubbish. GKR would smash any resistance quite nicely.

It isn't entirely unlikely, given the USA's current disinclination to secure the Iraqi oil fields and willingness to let other countries walk over them. North and South Korea are gearing up to go at it again and the USA won't jump in for fears China would come over, see how they're doing. I like it.

angry_flashlight:

HankMan:

I knew it! THOSE BASTARD MAPLE LEAF, SYRUP DRINKING HOCKEY GOONS SOLD US OUT DIDN'T THEY!?!

What? They asked nicely.

OT: Can we please stop having the USA invaded? We can still have strong Anglo-Saxon male characters with simple names elsewhere in the world besides the USA you know. Maybe have a British guy in Poland or India or something outside the norm.

I might still rent it though.

Oh yea, British guy in India. Maybe Ireland? That'd go down real well. :P

archvile93:

snip

They'd still have to cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean to do that. Wouldn't it make more sense to take over Europe and Asia first?

Watch the Back Story tailer, they did. :P

John Funk:

"I think there's a lot of the resistance side - the guerrilla resistance feel - and the emotional storytelling and human cost of war, that you don't really see portrayed in, really, any other shooter I can think of."

CoD6 (Modern Warfare 2) had that scene in the Russian airport. Unfortunately it seems it was more shock value than politics or philosophy. But for any Russian, it would have hit pretty hard given how many times they've had terrorist attacks on their soil. The school comes to mind, was a cinema a while back. And it seemed to elicit an emotional response from quite a few people going by the comments on this site. 'Course, for every "That was terrible! I hated it, seeing the people get gunned down like that", there was a "Dude, that was so slow, I mean, got to be the worst scene ever. Shooting that gal in the head was fun though"

HankMan:
I knew it! THOSE BASTARD MAPLE LEAF, SYRUP DRINKING HOCKEY GOONS SOLD US OUT DIDN'T THEY!?!

For sure, we've got better things to do than take on the GKR.

Like play hockey and drink maple syrup. ^ ^

angry_flashlight:
OT: Can we please stop having the USA invaded?

This. Seriously, this whole USA getting invaded premise is nothing more than a juvenile fantasy. It's like all these games are being written by the kind of nutcase rednecks who keep their guns loaded because they're forever thinking that the foreign horde is just over the next hill. The actual logistics of invading a country as large and well-defended as America are something that none of these hacks ever bother to really consider, yet they still act as if they have a right to proclaim their subject material as 'serious'.

Also the idea that people in Chechnya or Afghanistan will sympathise with the plight of America being invaded is going to keep me in stitches all day. I think this guy missed his calling in life, he should have been a comedian.

John Funk:
And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people don't actually read our news posts beyond the headline and the teaser.

That headline is important. :P

Personally I dont like it because it has even more of an "america fuck yeah" feel than games where you are an American soldier.
So lets get this straight, japan and many other countries surreneded. And the people who will topple this regime are American citizens. Yeah dosent seem like patriotic chestpounding at all.
And that wa thier idea, making a less "patriotic" game, they failed that, if they wanted something liek that mae America the bad guy, instead of some heroic paragon if virtue, killing the evil terrorists/communists/nazis. Jesus its the same 3 guys all the time.

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