Homeworld is one of those rare RTS games that combines a good storyline with an excellent game engine. The graphics are dated, but still visually pleasing even after the passing of over a decade since the game's initial release. Even today there is a strong online following of fans, and rumors of a Homeworld MMO.
Released in 1999 by Relic Entertainment and Sierra Entertainment, Homeworld chronicles the fate of the Kushan on their odyssey to return to their original homeworld. During their travails they will face off against murderous pirate/mercenaries, mysterious aliens with a tragic secret, and the Taiidan - a vast empire which seeks their eradication for reasons not immediately known. Not all the encounters in space are hostile, however, and a friendly race of alien merchants will be of considerable aid, and the appearance of Taiidan rebels will also provide help later on.
The graphics are not even close to being awe-inspiring today; but they were amazing when the game was first released. Nevertheless, the reviewer is guilty of occasionally tethering his camera to a lone harvester and wasting a few minutes just enjoying a flight through a nebula or along an asteroid belt. After fifteen minutes or so the player will cease to criticize the graphics, anyway, as the action is fast and furious.
Participating in the action is a host of different warships and fightercraft, from tiny scouts to massive missile destroyers and carriers. To make things interesting, small salvage corvettes play the part of a wild card during any battle, as they are quite capable of capturing the larger warships, even during an ongoing firefight. Some exotic weapons systems also exist, like a gravity ship that makes all fighters with a set radius completely helpless, and minelayers, which can create a deadly wall of mines which will often prove fatal to any enemy unfortunate enough to traverse through it.
Of course, all these ships and fighters cost resources to build - and this is another way in which the game shines; there is only one resource that needs to be collected, and the collection process is logical and automated. This frees up the player's attention for the myriad of other concerns which will beset him, as every scenario tends to alternate between long moments of uneventful quiet which is suddenly broken by periods of intense combat.
Indeed, this is my one serious gripe about the game - no game speed control. It would have been nice to be able to slow the game down at times so that I could zoom in on a particularly impressive dogfight between starfighters, or weapons exchange between capital ships. Mechanically, it would also have been nice to be able to slow the game during vital moments when multiple emergencies occur that demand the player's immediate attention.
This gripe is partially offset by the fact that every scenario is event/trigger-based, so the player will generally have some control over when certain things occur. However, once the events begin to unfold, the player will need to have all his units grouped correctly and in the proper formations, as some scenarios are very, very, unforgiving of mistakes.
The linear campaign design is a disappointment, and there is only one possible outcome for the storyline. However, the story is sufficiently engaging to remedy this, and the linear missions can usually be completed a multitude of ways, according to the gaming style of the player. This goes far in allowing the player to forget the linear, and hence limiting, nature of the game's plot.
Ultimately, this game is an excellent game that is fun even today. I would strongly recommend this game to anyone who plays RTS or science fiction games, and look forward to playing the sequels.
Final Score: 4 out of 5
People who downloaded Homeworld have also downloaded:
Homeworld 2, Homeworld: Cataclysm, Imperium Galactica 2: Alliances, MechCommander 2, Galactic Civilizations: Ultimate Edition, Imperium Galactica, MechCommander Gold, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3
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