Sunday 25 September 2016

Games: US invasion is on dodgy ground

Homefront: The Revolution (PS4/XOne/PC) 3 Stars Age: 18+

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

Homefront: The Revolution
Homefront: The Revolution

Those cunning North Koreans. Making us think they're a backward bunch of no-marks unable to overthrow a power-crazed dictator. When, in fact, they're a technologically superior industrial giant with the back-door keys to America's computers.

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Or so posits the alternate history of Homefront, which explores what would happen if North Koreans invaded after getting the US hooked on its technology. Like the original Homefront - which failed to set the shooter world alight five years ago - the idea trumps the execution.

Set in a dilapidated Philadelphia ruled by the iron jackboot of the Korean army (shades of Man in the High Castle and Half-Life 2's City 17 here, to good effect), Revolution's open world has the air of Far Cry transplanted to the city.

Your resistance fighter battles methodically to take over outposts and loosen Korea's death grip. But overwhelming opposition numbers mean stealth and ambush prove more successful than head-on confrontation.

Despite all this effective scene-setting, the narrative itself lacks drive and your side is populated by bland or even downright unlikeable characters.

Revolution's greatest failing, though, stems from its ropey technological underpinnings, with a wonky frame-rate, baffling pauses and inconsistent AI. Perhaps the Koreans supplied that, too.

The sizeable campaign mode will keep you mindlessly entertained for many a hour nonetheless, which compensates somewhat for the rather limp multiplayer component.

Shadow of the Beast

(PS4) 3 Stars Age: 18+

Few will remember the 1989 original on Amiga, a bloodthirsty side-scrolling brawler now rebooted in gruesome high-def.

But the Beast of this generation plays as simply as it did 27 years ago, a rhythmic combat that requires juggling of attacks from all sides by multiple enemies at once.

Unfortunately, the timing of the control system feels off, a fractional shift that makes platforming and counter-attacking frustrating. Coupled with a defiantly old-school mindset of backtracking and the obscurity of collectible that unlock the story, this Beast will appeal only to nostalgic fans of the original, which is kindly included.

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