The farmland sections, in which you sneak around morally twisted redneck survivalists - who are neurotically out to kill all and sundry, regardless of ideology - present a charming natural landscape of auburn hues and autumnal yellows. These areas perhaps best typify Homefront's ability to blacken what at first glance are beauteous, familial environments with human tragedy - not to mention a disturbing propensity to use corpses as ornamental garnish.
But Homefront's real showstopper is its final mission, which takes place on, under and through one of San Francisco's most famous landmarks. The midday sun glimmers on the 'frisco Bay, illuminating the giant structure of the Golden Gate Bridge as you scramble up its side. A sense of vertiginous imbalance further intensifies your plight, especially when the heart-in-mouth moment of a near decline sets in. It's spectacular, theatrical stuff - like Mirror's Edge meets Last Action Hero - and a clever comparable to the vast majority of Homefront's whitebread locations.
Homefront review:DON'T PANIC - IT'S ORGANIC
The game's other true standout moment couldn't be in starker contrast. Following an all-out suburban assault against the KPA the previous evening, Jacobs finds himself in a Resistance hideout. Far from the expected shadowy bunker, this sanctuary is like a heavily paranoid, shielded answer to The Good Life; littered with organic energy creators, self-sufficient vegetable beds and hardened, miserable former teachers and lawyers - whose belief in your uprising is the only thing keeping them from crushing thoughts of futility.
They are cagey but welcoming, and offer varied personal interactions that help enliven the entire setting of Montrose. The section provides an emotive change of pace that's tellingly conspicuous by its inclusion; its subtle, quietened piano and flute soundtrack lend colour to the idea of this previously palatial haven for hardworking families, devastated by power-grabbing atrocity.
Two young children snooze precociously by the fire, and it's not the last time that infantile distress is utilised in Homefront. Traumatic screams, confused breathlessness, the respite of a short-lived giggle; Kaos is unafraid to juxtapose the KPA's evil with innocence at every turn - another cleverly emotive reminder of what once thrived, and why your defence of a way of life matters.
It is strange that with this lightness of storytelling, Connor and Rianna are such two-dimensional dead weights - especially as other prominent NPCs elicit far more sophisticated relationships. Boone, a former Police hero and good-hearted man of the community, offers welcome assistance and conversational depth that would have made him an ideal partner; whilst a toe-rag name Arnie is complicated enough to warrant scrutiny from the outset.
As it promised in interviews, Kaos has taken many lessons from Valve's Half-Life 2. These include an annoyingly sneaky enemy AI that fritters between cover - and a trust in artfully deployed chatter and community friction to propel the story forward. Many non-Korean NPCs in Homefront can't be trusted, with motivations ranging from the wish for a quiet life to altogether more mercenary considerations.
It's a real shame, then, that the studio seems to have overlooked just how much trust Valve places in the player's intellect. This is typified by (who else?) Connor's response to an obviously inflated editorial take on your activities during a state radio broadcast - one which is clearly designed to raise tensions between the Resistance and other civilians. Just as you're shaking your head at the unjustness of it all, your meat-headed ally growls: "God damn propaganda." Thanks for making that clear but, honestly, I was doing fine all by myself.