This game is scared of you. For all it's uncompromising posturing, and bold themes, Homefront is terrified.
It's scared that you'll get lost; scared you'll get bored; scared that you're jaded from playing a myriad FPS games before it; and most of all, it's scared that you won't like it.
And through constantly jumping at its own shadow, it loses that confidence that makes all the difference between a good shooter and a great one. Not sure why - we really enjoyed it.
Homefront stumbles in the very first minute. When you start a new game you're greeted with a smart, well-put-together intro movie that sets the scene, explaining how Korea came to successfully invade and occupy America, the most powerful nation on earth.
This opening cut-scene is thoroughly researched, terrifyingly plausible, and pleasingly slick - so when a message pops up along the bottom of the screen and stays there, informing you 'Press X to Skip', it completely ruins the atmosphere (and covers up some important scenes).
Look, we're all for skippable cut-scenes, but without this intro the rest of the game loses meaning.
We watched the whole thing. Homefront's back-story is fascinating, and this attention to rather nightmarish details continues into the game itself.
The opening scene sees you waking up in a squalid first-floor room. Sunlight streams through the window, tattered books sit on tattered chairs, and a plant grows in a rusty pot in the corner.
It's a strangely beautiful post-disaster scene, and although not Killzone 3-handsome, it sets the tone for what turns out to be a (mostly) great looking game.
Peace is shattered by a knock at the door, and no sooner have you answered it, then you're being dragged outside and into a prison bus by a sinister Korean storm-trooper. It's here that Homefront really hits you with its harshest stuff.
In summary: executions, sobbing kids clutching the corpses of their parents, brains splattered on the bus window, men and women lining up for concentration camps - it's a relentless assault on your senses that smacks of an attempt to ram home just how horrific this game is. And it works.
By the time you've busted out of the bus and the shooting starts, you're ready to return fire. However, we'd have preferred a more considered, sinister introduction - one that hints at there being 'something wrong' before building up to the shock reveals later in the game.
It's something Half-Life 2 (a game heavily cited as one of Homefront's influences) does very well, and something that would have given this game's shock scenes extra emotional punch.
The shooting itself is a decent cross between Call Of Duty's twitch and Killzone's beefier-gun combat. You feel powerful as your rifle punches bullets through the air, but you also feel human as even short exposures to enemy fire threaten to rob you of life and force you to cover.
This makes the fire-fights challenging, but they never seem unfair, as you choose some moments to push forward and others to hide and regroup before you attack.
Make no mistake, you'll die a few times, even on Regular difficulty, but won't ever resent the game for sending you back to the Checkpoint. This is how shooters should be - balanced, considered, and well-paced - not an 100mph sprint through a corridor filled with fireworks and shouty men.
Sadly - in its desperation to ensure that you're having a good time, and not crouched behind a barrel or endlessly searching for the next objective - Homefront barks orders at you every few seconds and bombards you with on-screen prompts.