"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.
There are shades of Splash Damage's Brink to this, and welcome ones - if a player or a group of players is doing particularly well, the Battle Commander may assign them missions based on their particular proficiency. A sniper may be told to secure another three successive kills, for example. The rewards for doing so are additional buffs and more dramatic Battle Commander objectives.
Missions are rated out of five stars. As individuals (or groups, or even specific drones) advance up the star scale the opposing team's Battle Commander takes notice and designates those individuals for specific fire missions, providing heads-up display directions to opposing players so they can try to shut down their killing sprees.
Kaos describes it as "making large-scale warfare personal" and "supporting basic revenge instincts with escalating rewards", but a simpler way to put it is that it organises combat so that nobody gets too big for their boots. Moreover, taking out people on Battle Commander missions confers a lot more Battle Points.
At first we play regular rounds of Team Deathmatch and Ground Control (a capture-and-hold mode where the frontline of combat is pushed across the map by shifting objectives based on each team's score) without the Battle Commander, and they are interesting enough.
The Cul-de-Sac map's abandoned houses, backyard swing-sets and piles of overturned family saloons make for intricate, claustrophobic killzones, while Farm's steep hills, barns and open spaces are a drone-lover's paradise.
But the introduction of Battle Commander on Suburb - an Xbox 360-exclusive map full of neat wooden houses and interesting sight-lines for snipers - alters the flow. The best intentions of team-mates at multiplayer FPS press events rarely coagulate into actual co-operation for longer than a couple of minutes, but the Battle Commander's tasking eases players naturally together as they converge on high-value targets.
Kaos' goal may simply have been to burnish instinctive FPS behaviour with structure and reward, but it also seems to encourage lone wolves to work together - not unlike Valve's celebrated AI Director in the Left 4 Dead series.
"If you're not going to bring something new to the table then why even bother?" senior level designer Rex Dickson says to us prior to our first experience with Battle Commander. His comments aren't aiming for any other FPS specifically, but in a genre where everyone politely uses slightly different names for the same systems and annual changes to rulesets are met with great fanfare, it's a nice attitude to encounter.
Battle Commander isn't as mighty an advance as THQ's grandiose introduction of it might suggest, but it, along with experience clearly drawn from Kaos' endeavours with the useful if not spectacular Frontlines: Fuel of War, suggest that Homefront multiplayer will be competitive when it hits in March.
Allied to a bold singe-player campaign heavily influenced by Half-Life 2, it could make for a game that injects much-needed new energy into a polished but increasingly homogenised modern combat genre. Sun Tzu would probably like that.
For all the latest on Homefront, check out our dedicated microsite.