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Homeworld Remastered Review
I’ve just finished going through the whole Homeworld 1 Remastered story line and I am nothing short from awestruck. It’s beautiful, smooth and has various improvements game play wise compared to the original. However, no game is without its faults and Homeworld Remastered is no exception. There are some minor and also major flaws that should be addressed. This review will focus mostly on Homeworld 1 Remastered as it is much more distinctive from its original form compared to Homeworld 2 and its remastered version.
Homeworld is an RTS title released in 1999 by Relic Entertainment and caught the gaming world’s attention with its unique 3D space combat that can still hold a candle to most RTSes today. Later on it, the series was expanded on to Homeworld: Cataclysm in 2000 and finally Homeworld 2 in 2003. Unfortunately, according to Gearbox, Cataclysms source code has been lost and that is the exact reason why this stand alone expansion was not released in the remastered version of Homeworld. A fun fact that should be mentioned is that Homeworld inspired the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica but was inspired by the original Battlestar Galactica, although the original and re-imagined series are vastly different. In case you are a fan of the game and haven’t seen the show or vice-versa, I highly recommend to play the game or, oppositely, see the show.
Enough history, on to the game!
Graphics & Art
The graphics are probably the most compelling part of the remastered version. Although it does modify Homeworld 2, its main change is in its predecessor that has never looked so lush. The models are all high resolution, even though some could use more work. The lightning effects as well as the explosions are beautiful to look at. The sun glare is magnificent and only adds to the greatness of just staring at your humongous fleet flying trough the endless void. I haven’t found in any of the versions any graphical problems, but I didn’t even think I would encounter any since there is almost no contact between the models.
The art style stood the test of time and kept its middle eastern, alien-like vibe that is very unique compared to other sci-fi games or franchises. Not only that, but most ship designs in-game seem to have a purpose. For example, the Kadesh (an alien race) mothership, that looks like a mushroom, is shaped in that way in order send multiple waves of fighters at once while your own mothership, has to send them out one by one. Not only does the Kadesh mothership look completely alien by design, while it is sending out fighters, it seems like it is sending endless waves of death upon your fleet. Definitely a moment that gets the blood pumping.
The particular beauty of this game is not only on the design and graphical elements but it’s really low hardware requirements compared to the visuals it demonstrates. The hardware doesn’t need to render terrain elements as there isn’t any, leaving only the models, lighting effects and shadows for rendering. The seemingly huge void is actually a high-resolution picture wrapped around a sphere in which we play the game. The maps have their limits, but they are hard to reach and, most of the time, unnecessary to reach.
The music, SFX and conversations have all been redone into high quality sound. The music still fits perfectly with most scenes. Although, at times the battle music seems unnecessary as nothing is happening. However, most of the time, the music plays spot on at the moment the fighting starts or when the enemy gets closer. What really bothered me though is the lack of the awesome soundtrack „Yes – (Homeworld) The Ladder“ which was iconic during the credits as it was specifically made for Homeworld. It was very anti-climatic to end the game with no music what so ever. Just silence with various sketches that still look pretty neat.
Probably one of the most notable aspects of the Homeworld series is the game play. But even though attacking ships from above and below is great when going against another player, the AI seems to be a different story. Gearbox managed to transition Homeworld into the Homeworld 2 engine but it is still a bit bumpy. First of all, the campaign AI is almost non existent. There are scripted events as to how things have to work but when you are
done with them, nothing is happening. There are no attacks on your fleet, no recruiting new ships or anything else. I also have a problem with the AI sending waves of fleets at their own separate speeds making them really easy to destroy. Example, sending in fighters, frigates and capital ships at once, only to first fight fighters as they are the fastest, frigates later and just take on one capital ship with no problem at all. There are also problems with non responsive hot keys, ships attacking when they are not suppose to even though you ordered them to stand down and one of the biggest faults in the campaign is the uselessness of resources collectors. Ever since the „collect all resources at the end of the mission“ feature was implemented with the same maps Homeworld 1 had, the amount of resources you get after a certain time becomes silly. I stopped using resource collectors after the 6th mission since I always had enough to build up my fleet from previous missions. At one point I managed to have a pretty big fleet with about 35,000 Rus (resources). That’s a lot considering that the most powerful and expensive ship in the game costs 3000 Rus. I had no sense of danger at a certain point. No need to protect my harvesting operations as there were none which took out a huge part of the game.
The multi-player on the other hand is really fun. Although the two main factions, Taiidan and Kushan, have practically the same ships, the games are still immensely fun. Even the AI has something to offer during skirmishes. Although, I have to ask myself why wasn’t that same AI implemented into the campaign?
Homeworld is still a great game but the remastered version still needs a lot of adjustments. It is brilliant in the visuals and sound department but lacks in game play. Some problems are due to bugs, others to design flaws and dumbing down the enemy AI during the campaign. Most of this can be fixed with a patch or two if done right. What I would definitely like to see is that the main campaign gets more difficulty levels because to me, in the words of various Homeworld pilots, „This is a cake walk“.
- Fantastic 3D RTS
- Stuning visuals, music and sounds
- Interesting story
- Bad campaign AI
- A bit of a bumpy readjustment to the new engine
- A solid number of bugs