Homefront

Multiplayer hands-on with Battle Commander.

"He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks." Those are the words of Sun Tzu, a man who would have had a lot of time for Homefront, where everyone is spiritually drawn toward camping behind rocks and using remote-control helicopter drones to spam one another with rockets.

Helicopter drones are a lot of fun. Knuckle down somewhere private to spawn a buzzing little friend and you can zoom through the sky from his perspective, raining down hellfire on unsuspecting KPA or US troops depending on your allegiance.

The kills you make with a drone - and there will be plenty - are not so valuable to your team's score as ground kills, but they are far more disruptive to an enemy's movements over open ground. They can make the difference between securing an objective and simply being mown down.

And helicopter drones, while immediately gratifying, are just one of many delights available as part of Homefront's impressive Battle Points system. BPs are awarded for kills, assists and other things Sun Tzu would probably respect. Prior to each match you can customise your loadouts across six battle classes so that you can spend BPs on buffs, weapons and gizmos in the heat of the action.

(Helicopter drones are not as game-breaking as they sound - if the enemy shows signs of over-reliance on drones, you can always go hunting for the operators in the backyards and houses of the neighbourhoods you're fighting through.)

Other BP purchases include flak jackets, RPGs, and different drones - there's a little WALL-E style tank with a machinegun who proves very popular - and each class loadout gets two "purchase slots" to stock with them. In battle, providing you have sufficient BP, you just hit up or down on the d-pad to buy and make immediate use of your desired toy.

BP can also be spent on vehicles at the point of spawn - tanks, Humvees, even proper helicopters. As you would imagine, the range of available purchases grows considerably as you accumulate experience and graduate up the ranks of officerhood within Homefront's progression system.

You can also customise your primary weapon, its attachment, special explosives and abilities (perks) depending on your rank. While all the classes can be modified to some degree the basic setups are assault, SMG, heavy (my favourite), sniper, tactical and stealth.

Kaos is also making noises about how accessible its vehicles are ("This is not the sort of game where you spend two hours learning how to fly a helicopter," says multiplayer man Erin Daly, truthfully).

But the big change we've been invited to New York and THQ's Gamer's Week to experience is something else. It's called Battle Commander, and it's described to us as an artificial intelligence (we're going to go ahead and guess it's actually a bunch of algorithms) that watches over matches for which it is deployed and tasks individual players with specific missions that make sense to the context of the ongoing conflict.

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