For a pair of games that initially debuted in ’99 and ’03 respectively, the Homeworld games still stand firm as two of the best and most dynamic examples of what can be accomplished within the RTS genre. There’s still nothing quite like the breathtaking epic space battles, and the attention to detail that Gearbox has implemented in this remastered edition is nothing short of awe-inspiring. There are elements of the re-release that don’t quite hold up compared to the constant and almost instant action of more well-known RTS titles, but in spite of the sluggish beginnings Homeworld still remains a pleasure to play.
One of the highlights of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 is the intriguing campaign. Told through a series of minimalist cut scenes and brilliantly directed in-game footage, Homeworld manages to capture the imagination of the player as well as evoke some relatively deep emotions. Though there are no characters in particular to grab onto, players like me will surely find that humanity’s search for the origin of life is a clever one that manages to create a sense of longing and adventure. Though Homeworld 2 eventually collapses into a series of clichés, the story still manages to be one of the best emotional adventures in all of RTS gaming.
"There’s still nothing quite like the breathtaking epic space battles, and the attention to detail that Gearbox has implemented in this remastered edition is nothing short of awe-inspiring."
Strategy runs deep in the Homeworld series, and throws a bit of a curveball to the standard RTS game formula by introducing a 3D plane. Learning to navigate it is a bit of a struggle initially, but after you become comfortable with axis manipulation, maneuvering the camera, and navigating tactics you’ll feel right at home directing your fleets above or below enemy ships for the ultimate in flanking potential.
Tactics aren’t just about a 3D plane, though. Ships, and how they work with other parts of your fleet are integral to the overall experience. Each enemy unit has a number of ways they can be countered and manipulating your resources to deal with all of the threats you’ll face throughout the length of the campaign is both challenging and tedious. It’s all becomes worth it once the space dogfights break out.
"Strategy runs deep in the Homeworld series, and throws a bit of a curveball to the standard RTS game formula by introducing a 3D plane."
Using hotkeys to assign units to certain tasks is more than just suggested, it’s absolutely necessary considering the scale of some of the space battles you’ll encounter. When you zoom out to the space overlay you’ll find that most of yours ships will be reduced to nothing more than mere triangles, and knowing which units are assigned to which hotkeys is an essential part of victory.
There are some subtle differences between Homeworld 1 and 2 that exist outside of just the campaign and its presentation. The ability to treat squadrons as one single entity is a great improvement and makes fleet management a much easier experience. There could have been more done to improve upon the base game though, specifically in the resource gathering phases which quickly becomes one of the most boring aspects of the Homeworld games.
"It’s been over 15 years since the original Homeworld debuted back in ’99 and Gearbox has done a wonderful job bringing it to a new generation of gamers."
It’s a shame that the multiplayer is still in beta, but hopefully with time the full release will be an opportunity for additional longevity within the series. It’s very cool that Gearbox has implemented a system that allows for players to play as any of the four factions found within both games, and though I didn’t play it too much players should probably expect a lot of changes with future patches. I don’t think that this title lends itself much towards a multiplayer experience because of its deliberately slow pace, but I’m sure some people out there will thoroughly enjoy the added feature.
It’s been over 15 years since the original Homeworld debuted back in ’99 and Gearbox has done a wonderful job bringing it to a new generation of gamers. Obviously it’s not hard considering how well made the originals were, but the graphical overhaul doesn’t hurt. I ran into no issues running this game on max settings with my AMD 7900 series cards, but did notice some stuttering when it came to the animated cut scenes. This didn’t pull me out of the experience though, and throughout the course of my fifty hours of playtime I found myself constantly in awe of the beautifully rendered space settings. I can’t recommend this collection enough, and it’s something that demands to be played by anyone with a love of the RTS genre.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC