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Defend the Homefront this week in games

David Hughes's picture

Homefront, THQ's foray into the military-FPS genre current dominated by Call of Duty, releases this week alongside the PC strategy title Total War: Shogun 2.

THQ has been hitting a lot of good notes in promoting its newest (and perhaps riskiest) intellectual property, the Kaos Studios-developed Homefront. It features a foreign invasion on the American homeland, something explored previously in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but never before the focus of an entire game. The Russian invasion missions from Modern Warfare 2 struck a chord with me (and no doubt many gamers), but the title's fractured plot moved on before a lot of the emotional impact could sink in. In the case of Homefront, though set-pieces featuring the Golden Gate bridge are in the game, it is the battles set around suburban settings like retail stores that have promise to be emotionally impactful. Nor does this even get into the war crimes being committed by the invading Korean forces.

Though the gameplay smacks of Call of Duty (i.e., little or no recoil), THQ has been trying to woo console and PC gamers burnt out on the yearly iterations of Activision's franchise. Most of the sales action will come from the consoles, and Xbox 360 has been the lead platform in terms of pre-orders to date, but THQ has done a good job trying to woo PC gamers who don't want to wait for Battlefield 3 this fall. On that platform, the game will feature dedicated server support, and Steam users who pre-order the game get a rather nice bonus. THQ has even been part of a rather remarkable (or desperate, depending on who you ask) promotion with game streaming service OnLive.

HULIQ recently projected that the title will sell 2 million units across all platforms by this time next year, but THQ needs it to sell far more. Recent comments by company executives revealed that, quite astonishingly for a brand-new I.P., 2 million was the break-even point for the title.

The second biggest game to release this week is SEGA and Creative Assembly's Total War: Shogun 2. The latest iteration of the long-running strategy series has now apparently run full-circle, returning to the setting where it all began: feudal Japan. The core gameplay of the series remains untouched: a Risk-style strategy map which includes unit movements, espionage, and diplomacy which then shifts to RTS-style battles when armies clash. The game is getting strong praise for removing a lot of the bloated features accumulated through more recent entries, and battles taking place in and around Japan's feudal castles are the highlight of the game. Unfortunately, like many PC games lately, key features (like DirectX 11 support) are missing and stability issues are being reported, so downloading the demo currently available is recommended before committing money to purchasing the game. Fixes for these issues are promised, but there's no point in paying for something now if it will not work properly on your PC until a patch is released.

Other notable releases include the tennis title Top Spin 4 and two notable digital releases. Previously featured as the opening game of Microsoft's Xbox Live House Party promotion, Hard Corps: Uprising comes to the Playstation Network. Meanwhile, Microsoft concludes that promotion with the release of Full House Poker. Speaking of Microsoft, Halo: Reach gets its second map pack this week, dubbed the 'Defiant Map Pack'.

Also worth noting are two games previously released in Japan that are just now releasing in the U.S.: open-world crime game Yakuza 4 and the rather unique (unless you're familiar with the PS2 game which preceded it) Okamiden.

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