"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," or so the old proverb goes. It's a sage piece of advice for many walks of life, and it's fairly applicable when playing a first-person shooter online; a reckless attitude here will usually lead to a swift death, a ruined K/D ratio, and a squeal-y headset tantrum for the benefit of your fellow gamers. In the case of Homefront's multiplayer, however, I propose that we revise the adage: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but if you happen to own a remote-controlled tank then feel free to go wherever you like."
Homefront's combat drones are arguably the stars of its team-based multiplayer larks. Have you ever watched the grown-up news, heard the latest report of a Predator drone utterly obliterating the enemies of Peace and Freedom, and thought, "Ooh, I wish they did them in Argos!"? Yes? Now's your chance to live the dream, baby. Well, that's not exactly true; the drones in Homefront are a good deal smaller that the Predators, though they're still quite deadly. Whether you decide to opt for a tank, or one of the flying 'copter things, they're all about the size of a large household pet. If you wrapped one up in shiny paper, it would probably look pretty sweet under your Christmas tree.
The drones themselves are one of the many things you can buy with Battle Points - the in-game currency that fuels Kaos Studios' attempt at a new take on the team-based FPS. Battle Points are awarded for all the usual achievements - shooting enemies, securing turf markers - with bonuses awarded for revenge kills and the like. Once your points begin to accrue, you can use the D-pad to purchase equipment and drones - your exact options varying depending on your class and chosen loadout. If you're after weapons like RPGs and anti-air launchers, or more impressive toys like drones and surgical strikes, you can summon your prize into battle at any moment that suits you. Alternatively, if you're playing on a map that supports them, you can wait until you die and then opt to respawn inside a vehicle - a Humvee, a tank, or if you're really loaded with points, an attack chopper. If you plump for a vehicle, your teammates will be given the option to spawn straight into an unoccupied seat, so there's no need to zip about on an impromptu recruitment drive before you head into battle.
Once you've bought a weapon or drone it'll stay in your inventory until you've used it, even if you get killed. Your Battle Points are also unaffected by the number of times you snuff it, so even if you're the kind of player who blindly wanders into incoming bullets, you're bound to eventually develop a solid budget. Indeed, if you're really doing badly then the game will offer you discount guns and vehicles; I'd like to think these cut-rate items are provided by Del Boy and Rodney, but you'll have to use your imagination if you want to join in this fantasy; yellow Reliant Robins don’t seem to feature on the vehicle list.
People who love their Modern Warfare 2 killstreak chains may moan about this setup, but the fact is it ensures that everyone will eventually get a go with the best kit. Stronger players will still get to the most powerful tools first and, because you get to jump straight into your ride of choice, you don't have to hang around a designated spawn point as if you're waiting for a bus to show up. The Battle Points system also creates a rather pleasing sense of escalation: at the start of a match everyone is on foot, crawling around on their bellies and taking potshots from cover, but by the end of a round everyone seems to be whizzing about in some kind of multi-million dollar death machine.