It's 2027, and a reunified Korea has invaded the United States.
That's the premise of “Homefront,” a new video game from THQ that explores what might happen if Americans were forced to form a resistance to an invading army.
The game's lead level designer, Rex Dickson, said the game deals with the foreign occupation of America, and how that could come about.
“We have what we call pillars, or guiding statements, and one of those pillars was ‘familiar has become alien,'” Dickson said. “We did a lot of research into post-peak oil, what would happen after an oil crash, when gas was no longer available. What would our country look like if democracy were to fall apart, or fail, when there were no jobs left, when things began to get more and more abandoned?”
Dickson said designers looked at some modern cities, where large neighborhoods have been abandoned in the throes of the Great Recession.
“Anyone in the United States who grew up in suburbia will immediately understand these places,” he said.
The “Homefront” game is expected to spawn sequels and already has led to a novel, “Homefront: The Voice of Freedom,” by John Milius and Raymond Benson, exploring the game's backstory.
“Homefront is set to become one of THQ's most successful original IP launches,” said Danny Bilson, EVP Core Games, THQ, in a release. “The team at Kaos (has) spent three years building an FPS (first person shooter) that competes with the very best, offering a thrilling and original single-player experience and hundreds of hours of multiplayer.”
THQ is providing dedicated servers for console and PC versions of “Homefront.”
“Dedicated servers allow us to support 32 players on large maps with infantry, vehicles and drones, and level the playing field compared to titles that rely on user-hosted games,” said Drew Como, director of infrastructure, THQ.
In the game, the reunified Korea acts much like Japan in World War II, island-hopping until it is able to control large portions of Asia.
“They attack the United States with an electromagnetic pulse weapon, and that is a very real-world threat,” Dickson said. “It knocks out all electricity and computer devices and shuts down all communication.”
This allows the Korean army to mount an incursion into the United States.
“The Koreans don't do a full-scale invasion of the United States; they go after pockets here and there,” trying to take over resource-heavy areas, Dickson said.
The game was written by Milius, who co-wrote the film “Apocalypse Now” and wrote and directed “Red Dawn.”
“While ‘Red Dawn' is closest in terms of its depiction of civilian resistance, ‘Apocalypse Now' ... was much closer to what we were going for in terms of tone,” Dickson said. “This is a very dark, serious game. We wanted to get away from the ... thrill-a-minute action movie.”
Milius established the arc and created a strong focus on the civilian storyline. The players take on the role of a civilian resistance force in Colorado.
“He's been giving us feedback constantly on what would make sense for resistance fighters, and things that a civilian resistance would be capable of versus a professional soldier and squad.”
Dickson said many Americans are used to living in a resource-rich environment, and one of the questions the game wants players to ask themselves is how they might react in a dangerous, desperate situation.
“We're trying to pull on that emotion and ask that question. ... Maybe it's very unlikely that we could ever be invaded, but what if?” Dickson said. “And you know, even just asking that question makes people very uncomfortable. But that's exactly what the game is all about.”