A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The goal of the game is to defend America from a North Korean invasion, which could lead some players to experience powerful feelings of pride, loyalty, and nationalism. Questions about how the enemy treats its American prisoners -- as well as Americans' attitudes toward their country's invaders -- are occasionally addressed. Players must kill many hundreds or perhaps thousands of enemies while protecting the country, and this violence is sensationalized.
Positive Role Models
Players take on the role of a citizen-turned-soldier who is working with other American fighters. These fighters occasionally express distaste at having to kill to defend their country ("it never gets easier," notes one woman), but can also become caught up in their anger (upon encountering a burning enemy soldier one man says: "I thought I smelled Korean barbecue"). Another of the resistance fighters is an Asian American who faces prejudice from his countrymen, who lump him in with the enemy because of his appearance. They are realistic and often sympathetic personalities, but not necessarily the best of role models.
Ease of Play
We evaluated the Xbox 360 edition, which is very similar to other first-person shooters: move with the left analog stick, rotate the camera with the right stick, and use the right trigger button to shoot enemies. A brief tutorial at the start of the game walks you through these basic mechanics as well as more advanced ones.
Violence & Scariness
Though not over-the-top violent and gory like other recent action games (such as Dead Space 2), this is a first-person shooter with a very heavy emphasis on killing enemies. Players fight with assault and sniper rifles, grenades, and a knife in hand-to-hand combat. Blood splatters out of human enemies. There are many scenes depicting mass deaths, executions, and chaotic moments that might be upsetting. One scene shows a screaming child watching his father shot in the street.
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Expect strong language, including the words "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "hell," "damn" and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
The developers say they did not charge companies any money for product placement, but in order to make the U.S. setting more believable they have included signs and stores with familiar brands, including Hooters, White Castle, Tiger Direct, and Nos.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Homefront is a graphically violent first-person shooter containing profane dialogue. Players kill countless North Korean invaders who want to take over the U.S., and there are many disturbing urban-war related scenes, such as a child witnessing his parent being shot, people executed on the street, and a truck slamming into someone. Blood sprays from enemies, is puddled on the streets, and can be seen smeared on windows. Players can also blow up enemies with grenades or by shooting pumps at a gas station. It's possible to snipe enemies in the head from great distances. Note, as well, that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions support open online play. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online communication for pre-teens.
Is It Any Good?
Homefront is a good -- but not great -- first-person shooter. The story is certainly one of the game's greatest strengths. Since it's a scenario that *could* happen in the near future and because it takes place on the West Coast of the United States, it might hit home for some. A scene in which American citizens are arrested and executed and another involving a battle on the Golden Gate Bridge are particularly stirring. The single-player story is only about five hours long, but the multiplayer is fun and should add some longevity and replayability. The visuals, voice acting, and music are competent, but not particularly special. In the end, Homefront is a solid B-grade title that puts its compelling story and setting first while delivering some fun and frantic action sequences, too. Note: Homefront is the same game regardless of the platform on which it is played.
Online interaction: All three versions of the game support online play against up to 31 other players. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players can chat while playing online. This means they may encounter foul language, be subjected to inappropriate subjects of conversation, and could potentially share personal information.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.