January 29, 2013

Crytek’s Genius In Securing Homefront 2

THQ’s assets have been sold. Well, most of them at least, and we have seen a handful of publishers that have jumped on the wagon to secure one of the developer companies that used to have THQ reigning over them. They really jumped on it. In less than a month, all of THQ’s developers had been bought out faster than a speeding bullet.

These guys have reacted so quickly because they know just how profitable THQs business could have been if its resources had been utilized to their maximum potential. Sadly, THQ spent far too much of its time with poor company resource management and investments into innovations that yielded no profit, or logic for that matter.

They’d failed, and what’s worse is that even their most popular franchise couldn’t bring them out of the slums. Speaking of Saints Row, I’m not sure that Koch Media are the best people to be handling a game that essentially prides itself on stupidity. They’re just publishers, but they still have every right to red light the production of the game for whatever reason.

But what caught my eye was Crytek Studios’ purchase of publishing rights to the Homefront series. Homefront was a first person shooter that used Call of Duty like game elements in its multiplayer that rewarded players with a point system that could be used to purchase vehicles through each session of play.

It’s not to be confused with the unlock system in Battlefield, which has players on an XP system that contributes to attachment and vehicle weapon and countermeasure unlocks.

The single player version put players in the shoes of American soldiers in 2027 where North Korea has invaded American soil. The premise and story of the game tied very well, and with respect, it’s definitely something different for gamers to dip their feet into. THQ pulled the plug on its development for less than expected sales numbers. This is not indicative of typical THQ behavior.

But Crytek seems to have their eyes fixated upon it. Why would they bother? Homefront ran on Unreal Engine 3 and it’s generally known Crytek much prefers to have games that use their own CryEngine to push graphic and physical hardware.

Most think to themselves, “Is there really a difference?” To that, I’d have to say yes. But that difference is more with features and style than with power. For example, Unreal Engine has what’s considered a realistic lighting and physics engine. It tries to stick to the respects of real life, without having game characters seem too bouncy in movement. Excellent shading and item generating is one of the best aspects about Unreal Engine 3.

If we were to look at DICE‘s Frostbite technology, we’d see another thing entirely in terms of gaming. Destructible environments and superior lighting are what’s to be expected of Frostbite. DICE has been experimenting with the tech side since Battlefield: Bad Company. Since then, DICE has installed it into every Battlefield game, as well as Mirror’s Edge.

But realism isn’t the only thing that developers are looking for, and it’s certainly not the only thing that gamers crave. By looking at the Havok physics engine, you get a clear idea of how ragdoll effects work with player avatars, in-game. The physics are whacky and you will often see bodies flopping in ridiculous and seriously unrealistic styles. It stands out as one of my favorites. Of course, I haven’t seen its technology used in games since the days of Crackdown 2.

But back to Crytek. Their purchase of the publishing rights to Homefront more than likely means that we’ll be seeing a change in Homefront’s game engine from Unreal to Crytek. This can be potentially prosperous, or disastrous, depending on whether or not the popularity of Homefront hasn’t dissolved in the years since its original release.

Only Time will tell. Let me know what you think of this move by Crytek!

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