Homeworld: Remastered is a re-release of the classic real time strategy game. Originally produced in 1999, the rights to the game changed hands a few times and had an uncertain future until purchased by Gearbox. Now as Homeworld: Remastered Collection, the game launched on February of this year and includes the original Homeworld, as well as Homeworld 2 and the remastered versions of both titles.
Homeworld: Remastered is a science fiction real time strategy game, featuring elements of research, resource collection, and starship combat. Rather than an actual character, the player controls a fleet of vessels ranging in size from smaller scouts to enormous Carriers, Frigates and Destroyers. Each ship has strengths and weaknesses, at some point you will need them all to survive.
The fleet the player controls belongs to the Kushan, a clan like civilization once embroiled by conflict. Untied after discovering an ancient vessel within the deserts of their world, with advanced technologies and a stone bearing the coordinates of their world and one other, they spend nearly a century building the Mothership, an enormous vessel capable producing and carrying other ships. The Mothership is controlled by Fleet Command, the original scientist who led the project, and then integrated her body into the vessel itself.
After the maiden voyage of the Mothership meets with tragedy, the fleet returns to find their planet destroyed. The Kushan then embark on a journey to save their civilization, and seek revenge on the marauders who attacked them. Along the way, the make some startling discoveries about their past.
Having an updated engine and remastered graphics that are compatible with modern systems, I still did not expect Homeworld: Remastered to look as good as it does. Granted, it does not push my system very hard, and likely even mid to low range systems could run it (which, believe me, is a bonus). Homeworld: Remastered meets the challenge of having hundreds of actions happening simultaneously as entire fleets of vessels interact and battle each other.
The cutscenes have an almost comic book quality, with some real time actions thrown in. All in all, I’m impressed with what Homeworld: Remastered was able to pull off, but not blown away. Gearbox does keep to the spirit of the game, however, and that deserves a nod of respect.
One thing I will mention is the quality of the screenshots and trailers prior to release versus the actual game. I’ve played plenty of titles that looked promising, with wonderful art and graphics. Often when they are released it looks little more than a lipstick on a pig wearing high heels. Gearbox did a fantastic job of delivering us exactly what we were seeing pre-release.
In space, no one can hear you scream… or do much of anything else. Interactions and sound effects are at a minimum; if you zoom in close you will hear engines, battle sounds and so forth, but most of the time you are zoomed out. Background music is noticeable but not intrusive, and the small bit of voice acting serves mainly as a guide and minor plot device.
Realistically, the sounds are not the important part here; what effects are present serve mainly to highlight and compliment the game. Having anything more would take away from the experience.
Homeworld: Remastered features a single player storyline, computer vs player and multiplayer combat. I have not had much time to delve into the multiplayer aspect, but for single player the plot is fairly repetitive: Warp into a system, collect resources, fight bad guys, warp out. Now, there are some kinks thrown at you from time to time. Certain vessels are vulnerable to environmental conditions on a few maps, so you can lose and entire squadron of fighters in a few brief seconds. And sometimes the bad guys come in waves, or just happen to be in waiting, so there is a challenge involved. The fun part for me was figuring out the right combination of ships and tactics needed to complete a mission, while preserving as much of my resources to carry over to the next mission. It’s challenging, and trying to figure out just what path you need to take to reach your objective can take hours and multiple attempts.
Don’t expect to finish this game in one setting. Ship movement is not instantaneous, and it can take up to half an hour to reach the other side of the map. The best thing to do is clear your objective, set your Resource Collectors onto task, and then walk away for an hour or so while they clean up. Another tip is to use Salvage Corvettes often; you can capture enemy vessels and use them yourself. During a few missions I was able to retrieve and use vessels before I had the technology necessary to build them myself.
With mods, multiplayer and computer vs player support, Homeworld: Remastered has a decent shelf life. Included in the Remastered version is both Homeworld Classic (if you want to see what it used to look like, I guess), Homeworld Remastered, Homeworld 2 Classic and Remastered, as well as the multiplayer beta. So, once I finish the first title, I will work my way through the second and so on. One single mission may take hours, if not a day or two, and as I said above, there are times you are better leaving the game to run on auto while you take a nap.
This is NOT a game with instant gratification. You have to like real time strategy games, and enjoy drawn out play to really get into this title. Being as my first ever computer game was the original Civilization, Homeworld: Remastered is right up my alley.
For once in a fairly long time, I am impressed with the value of a video game title. With both the first and follow up titles included in the collection, you are essentially getting two games for $34.99, less than the current price of most games. No doubt there will be some sort of premium features or DLC down the road, but Gearbox seemed to hit the nail on the head with the price of this one.
Gearbox Software resurrected a classic title, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and sent it on the road. Homeworld: Remastered is like a classic Hot Rod, not new but certainly a mean contender.