1999 saw the release of a video game that would change the way real-time strategy games are played. It was the first ever attempt at creating a fully three-dimensional strategy game set in space which told a captivating story about a group’s struggle to regain what was taken from them with mystical and deep mythos detailing legends and ancient civilizations. That game was Homeworld. From developers Relic and publishers Sierra, they had successfully created the very first 3D space strategy game with perfected gaming mechanics, stunning graphics, and flawless sound design.
The success continued with Homeworld 2 with improved mechanics and the continued story of the brave Hiigarans standing their ground against overwhelming odds. For years to come, other space strategy games would attempt to emulate Homeworld’s perfection while adding a few nice touches of their own. Now from developers Gearbox, Homeworld 1 and 2 has been brought into the new generation of PC gaming. The original games have been re-released in addition to remastered versions complete with enhanced graphics and effects. It’s time once again to strategize, travel and fight through the void of outer space with the Homeworld Remastered Collection.
The people of the planet Kharak, the Kushan have made the discovery of a lifetime: an ancient starship. Within this starship is a relic made of stone, etched with a starmap and one word that would change the course of history: Hiigara or Our Home. The clans of Kharak united and constructed the mothership, the largest and most powerful space faring vessel ever created. Dr. Karan S’jet, a scientist part of the construction, integrated her own nervous system into the ship’s control system, thus permanently becoming the ship’s core. With a crew of 600,000 strong and unsurpassed technology, they now begin their perilous journey to their ancient homeworld of Hiigara.
100 years have passed since the first exodus. Before the Kushan’s voyage (now Hiigarans), 3 races discovered 3 hyperspace cores granting interstellar travel. The first was found by the Bentusi, friends and allies of the Hiigarans. The second by the Hiigarans, which was used to power the mothership and begin their journey to Hiigara. The third however, was founded 100 years after the exiles found Hiigara, by an Vaygr warlord named Makaan. Using the core to power his mothership, he begins his conquest of numerous star systems and has his eyes set on Hiigara. Makaan believes he is the Sajuuk-Khar, the Chosen One of Sajuuk who believes the return of the God Sajuuk is nigh and he must gather all 3 hyperspace cores to bring about his return. Now with their new mothership: the Pride of Hiigara, the Hiigarans lead by Karan S’jet make their stand against Makaan’s evil onslaught and fight so that the prophecy may be ended in peace instead of Makaan’s evil plan of carnage and genocide.
Both games are played in real-time with resource management. Your mothership is the hub of all your operations. You’ll be researching, collecting and producing ships from this very vessel to build an unstoppable armada capable of taking on any foe. Your begin with moderately strong ships from fighters to corvettes, but these won’t be enough to take on much bigger prey. Thus you’ll need to construct much bigger ships outfitted with various weaponry and other tricks. This is where you’ll need to collect resources, fund your research, and improve your ships. From fighters to massive capital ships, you can construct a whole manner of starships to add to your armada, each with their own characteristics. Homeworld 2 allows you to add upgrades to these ships including longer range sensors, stronger engines and more powerful weaponry. You’ll want to begin researching into new technologies as soon as possible, as you never know what awaits you in the next sector and going in unprepared will obviously have dire consequences. Nevertheless researching and building up your armada to feature assault frigates, support craft, fighters, bombers and capital ships will have all your foes quaking in fear as your armada warps from hyperspace poised to attack.
When engaged in combat you’re spoilt for choice on how to approach battles. Various options are available which change the behavior of the fleet. You can set you fleet in multiple formations to form a more accurate line of fire, a flanking maneuver or even a sneak attack. As the plane is fully 3D, you’re able to position your ships anywhere on the map and not just horizontally. You can move ships vertically giving them the chance to swoop down and reign destruction from above or surprise you victims from below. You can order ships to fight defensively, stand down from combat or attack anything that gets in their way. Pressing spacebar opens the Sensors Manager giving you a more tactical view of the battle, enabling you to make pinpoint maneuvers and accurate attacks.
All these options give you an endless choice of tactical and strategic possibilities and when utilized to their full potential, the galaxy will know that the Hiigarans are unstoppable in battle. Battles themselves are a sight to behold as well. Witness in awe as fighters swoop past each other engaged in intense dogfights, as frigates launch a barrage of missiles and lasers at their foes and as capital ships unleash hell against an enemy’s hull. The improved, less intrusive UI allows more concentration on the battles while maintain easy access to various functions. Everything in this game has been crafted and executed perfectly and it’s not hard to see how these we’re the games that would set the standard for many other space strategy games for years to come.
The visuals for both Homeworld games have been beautifully re-crafted and are able to visually match today’s graphical standards. The remastered versions of Homeworld 1 and 2 include higher resolution textures, improved lighting, HDR, motion blur and much more. Everything from the ships to the skyboxes and even the engine trails look striking. Zooming in on ships allows you to view them in all their majesty. The iconic motherships look more glorious and majestic then they’ve ever been. Corvettes and capital ships are highly detailed and stunning. Even smaller fighters look marvelous. Battles are a visual feast watching trails of missiles, laser blasts and cannons light up space in destructive splendor and watching ships being blown apart never gets old (as long as they’re not yours).
The incredible sound design still emphasizes loud booms, blasts, zaps and smashes as battles rage across the plane of space. Laser canons and missiles resonate deafening sounds of unrivalled power. Even just listening to the engines as ships move is enough to excite your need for a galactic adventure. The soundtrack is flawless, with the score for both games composed by musical genius Paul Ruskay. His musical pieces emphasises the desperation of the Hiigaran people to call a place their home and defend it at all costs. Homeworld 1 also features the heart breaking piece Agnus Dei, composed by one of the greatest composers who ever lived: Samuel Barber, which is played during a horrifying and tragic event in the game. There’s no faulting anything when it comes to sound design and graphics and thanks to the overhaul for both games, Homeworld 1 and 2 can be enjoyed with brand new graphics and the same classic gameplay.
Homeworld 1 and 2 is still able to bring a deep and exciting strategy gaming experience to the war room. Mechanics are simple yet effective, battles are intense and exciting and the remastered versions of Homeworld look superb. Both original and remasterd versions of the Homeworld games have mod support so there are going to be plenty of more reason to keep coming back to the helm of the fleet for more exciting battles.
There are a few issues with this otherwise stellar package which may easily be remedied at a later date. There doesn’t seem to be any difficulty settings for the original and remastered Homeworld games, so you can’t really change the experience for you next playthrough unless modders change that or it gets fixed officially. The original version of Homeworld can’t be played in a certain resolution at least not without a few tweaks. Also both the original versions of Homeworld especially Homeworld 2 have frame rate issues and stuttering, which is bizarre since both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 look inferior to their remastered counterparts. Multiplayer is currently in beta and it’s relativity bug free, however it does require patience to play in since it’s not very easy and fast enough to find a good game for now, depending on the map and the number of people online.
The Homeworld series is over a decade old, and it’s still without question an absolute classic. It’s one of the finest real-time strategy games ever created with perfect gaming mechanics, an engrossing, wonderful storyline enriched with deep lore and now, incredible visuals and sound design updated to match any strategy game that’s out today. Homeworld 1 and 2 has set the standard for other space strategy games to meet and now newcomers to the series can find out for themselves how these games we’re able to inspire an entire genre for many years to come. It’s time once again for brave admirals of the Mothership Fleet to lead the exodus that will take the people that have endured so much suffering to hope, salvation, victory and freedom with the Homeworld Remastered Collection.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Homeworld Remastered Collection for the PC provided by Gearbox Software.