PAA Research’s Bradley Safalow has a theory on the low review scores for Homefront: The length. He believes that with an added two or three hours, Homefront could have hit a Metacritic score of 80 (it currently sits at 72).
This is one of those grand misconceptions about this industry, one that has seeped into everything. A mediocre game is a mediocre game. Homefront was linear, holding the player’s hand and botching many of its strongest emotional moments due to weirdly swapping morals. Two more hours of mediocrity doesn’t change anything except adding to the vague level design.
That’s not to say Homefront didn’t end abruptly, because it did. It’s the core of the problem, that of a game’s narrative more concerned with franchise potential than finishing up the actual storyline. It ends on a bang too, a truly spectacular, hectic assault on the Golden Gate Bridge. That was all in passing though, the exception to the rule. Looking back, Homefront simply would have fallen back on the static stop-and-pop feel it had those five hours previous had it featured additional stages.
Good, even great games, are not defined by their length. You can play Mario 64 for 20 hours, or blaze through it in six minutes. Either way, Mario 64 can show its strengths, a game that is such a classic, in a sheer skill showcase available on YouTube, Mario 64 remains a cut above. It’s brilliant, and so are many of the classics we used to play.
Keep in mind that the whole, “games must be 10 hours” thing is relatively new. Most NES titles can be beaten solidly in 30 minutes, and the price generally only ran $10 cheaper. Games today pad themselves, and to Homefront’s credit, it really didn’t. It pushed a pace and stuck with it, and rarely were you confined to some singular location fighting generic waves. Homefront needed the additional content because its story did too; most games don’t. They stretch a narrative to its limits and beyond, having little sense for storytelling. To its credit, Homefront at least tried, and even if it failed, it would have failed for three more hours too.