I wasn't expecting too much going into the very, very hot little room where THQ was demoing Homefront, but it makes a hell of a first impression. I came out wowed by the quantity and quality of explosions in the single-player levels, which center around the Hitler-like rise to power of Kim Jong Il's son, and his conquest of the United States.
Unlike Modern Warfare 2, Homefront seems to care about its story making sense and having a meaningful emotional impact. The demo opens with a tour of a community of resistance fighters built in the ruins of a suburban neighborhood, concealed from the Korean occupation forces by tree cover and camouflage nets. There are families and children here, trying to create a free life for themselves. It's all intricately detailed, and though I didn't get much of a sense of the characters, it certainly looks like Kaos Studios intends to give you a reason to fight the occupiers besides straight up marching orders.
Cut to an action scene where you and a scripted AI companion are overlooking a Korean base. On her signal, a flaming van comes crashing through the gate. I think it's going to explode, but that would be too predictable. Instead a brilliant artillery strike rains a scatter-shot napalm barrage down on the confused Koreans, and from that moment on the action just doesn't let up. In what may be one of the most intense action scenes I've ever seen in a game, you pick off survivors of the napalm strike, protect an ally, get caught in friendly fire, fall from a guard tower as it collapses, light up targets for a robotic drone's missile launchers, and take down attack choppers. There's no way this game can keep up this pace for eight or more hours, is there?
P.S. As I write this, THQ is parading a platoon of extras dressed in Korean military fatigues around the main hall of the LA convention center.