[su_highlight background=”#3b88ff” color=”#ffffff”]Platforms: PC | Developer: Gearbox Software | Publisher: Gearbox Software| ESRB: E 10+[/su_highlight]

[su_box title=”Spoiler Warning”]As this Remastered Collection covers multiple games and the originals are older titles, there will be spoilers regarding story in the discussion of both games. If you wish to avoid these, please skip over the sections for Homeworld 1 and 2 in the middle of this review.[/su_box]

I never thought the day would come where I would understand an in-depth, real-time strategy game, let alone enjoy it. Homeworld Remastered gave me an opportunity I didn’t have when I was eleven. I was privileged with playing both the classic version and the newer version, experiencing everything possible in this 3 dimensional experience.

It goes without saying that Homeworld set the bar for space travel and strategy games alike when it was released in 1999. Even its sequel, Homeworld 2, obtained high scores across the board in 2003. Now we get to see them again in a new light in 2015 — celebrating around 15 years of a classic, remastered.

Before I break these remastered games down, I do have to share my disbelief at what the fan base has been complaining about. While I was already delving into the game before its release date, some were waiting impatiently, and others were grumbling. The protests ranged from the lack of ‘significant graphical change’ to the disappointment that ships and galaxies weren’t completely different from the original. I truly believe that people have confused ‘Remastered’ with ‘Remade’. This game was not deconstructed and rebuilt with new ideas and visuals. Homeworld Remastered is a polished version of a mastered game. The original was rated best game of the year upon its first release… it’s hard to get better than the best.

I even sought out one of my good friends guidance, asking, as a big fan since the 90’s, how Gearbox did with the remastered version, this was his reply:

“It looks amazing. They gave it new life in terms of graphics…you quote me in your review BTW” – Robert

Needless to say, he’s passionate about these games. And now I understand and gladly join in when he calls on Skype just to yell “FOR THE HOMEWORLD”.

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Being an older game, I’m not afraid of sharing more story in this review. But, in case you haven’t enjoyed the narrative, skimming to the bottom of this section will save some spoilers.

Homeworld: An expedition was begun when a satellite detected something unusual under the sands of the great desert. Upon recovery, the large object was found to be a spaceship. When it was further delved into the decaying shell, a stone was found with odd carvings of a galactic map and a word so ancient, it would change the lives of the Kharak forever: “Hiigara” – our home.

60 years would pass as the clans of Kharak designed a mothership that would allow 600,000 of them to navigate to these points of interest, using a hyperspace jump to save time. The main scientist, Karan S’jet, even integrated herself into the control system, linking it to her own nervous system. She became the core known as fleet command.

Upon their first scheduled test run, the mothership suffered tragedy. What was supposed to be the Khar-Selim awaiting them, was instead hostile aliens that had demolished the engineering crew. Defeating the aliens, the Mothership went home, only to find their precious Kharak in flames.

Throughout the rest of the game, the objective becomes more centered around the Taiidan, who rule the tyrannical interstellar empire and sent the mercenaries to destroy the people of Kharak. With the help of a rebellion, you are faced with the Emperor himself, putting Karan into a coma and causing the whole mothership to be paralyzed. Still, when the Emperor is defeated, Karan is removed from the Mothership and awakens, the last person to step into their new home of Hiigara.

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Homeworld 2: In the sequel to Homeworld, it is discovered early that the hyperspace core that was found in the wreckage of part one, was extremely rare. In fact, only three were known to exist in the universe. The first core is in the hands of the Bentusi, who assisted the Kharak, or now, Hiigarans, in the first installment. The second is of course, with the Hiigarans.  The third unfortunately  lies with a darker force — a Vaygr warlord called Makaan. He sets out to capture and take the cores, going after Hiigara first. Makaan has the sick notion to assume that he is the prophesied powerful being Sajuuk, who was thought to be revealed at the ‘End Times’, when the third core was finally discovered.

The Vaygr attack early, while a new mothership “The Pride of Hiigara” is being constructed. It’s able to escape, and the real mission begins. Hiigarans are told by the Bentusi to find Balcora Gate, which holds the one thing that can stop whatever madness is about to ensue. The Bentusi then sacrifice themselves for the Hiigarans, hoping they take the first core as well.

The game nears its end when both Makaan and the Hiigarans find the gate, upon which encloses a starship, the real Sajuuk. I is designed with three indentions, signifying the three cores that must be placed there.

When the opposing fleets are defeated, the Hiigarans claim the third core, deserting their mothership for the Sajuuk and thus, defeat the remaining threats of Vaygr. After the victory – it’s learned that the mothership is a key element to a hyperspace network for gates, starting a new life of happiness and prosperity for the whole galaxy.

All of this to say: I never thought I’d discover a game that put so much detail, depth and heart into a story about space…and these were made years ago! I’m ashamed I didn’t play these earlier, because a new fan has been born from the remastered playthrough.

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I have played several space oriented games, but none that satisfied the 3-dimensional concept quite like the Homeworld series. Though you don’t control a  ship by arrows and its more of a click action sequence, you are still free to zoom in and out while panning over three dimensions. Ships use the different elements while going to new destinations, and grids are used on a broad scale to keep you in the world that was created for you. At no point in the games did I feel like I wasn’t in a spaceship, telling my crew what to do.

Despite my love for the mechanics of these games, the controls did become overwhelming. Having never played a Homeworld game until 10 days ago, I didn’t have the upper hand others may have had. There are a lot of very nice shortcuts and commands that I still  don’t know, which would make sending out fleets much easier. I have failed several missions because of my inability to act quickly — which I feel is my fault more than the game mechanics.

Even the instructions and goals are at your fingertips, should you not understand them right away. I am not one to take in information quickly while pressed for time, so having the objectives at the top of the screen for me to look over is a really nice feature.

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I am trying really hard to find something wrong with this game, but even the graphics are great. Granted, this is the -remastered- version, dedicated to cleaning up the graphics for today’s demands — that just goes to show they have succeeded. They kept the voices and cut scenes, which I thought would make the game, still, out-dated, but I was very wrong.

The voice acting from Karan and the narrator are perfect. They sound commanding, almost robotic, and very futuristic while still being calming. This gives the allusion, again, that you are there and they are talking to you. No commander gives bad news in a panic. Instead, they give orders and never fluctuate tone. I’m blown away that a game made 15 years ago can STILL be better than games released today. It makes me wonder where we as gamers, fail to demand only the best from those making the games, and why we hold classics close to our heart.

That being said, the graphics meet my expectations, having played the classics recently and then the remastered – just to see the difference. If you were expecting new ships and upgraded designs, ask for a new Homeworld game. This is a remastered Homeworld, and they did it perfectly.

I am honored to have the privilege of reviewing this game. I would have never known that my wishes for a space game with 3D capabilities and commands had already been met, had Gearbox not released a remastered classic. I’m just sad I wasn’t a PC gamer when I was twelve.

Still, I can now call my friend on Skype now and randomly yell “For the homeworld!” with full confidence and appreciation for what is clearly still one of the best games around.

PC review copy provided by Gearbox Software via Steam.

[review]

Shawna Beaston
Shawna is a PC gamer and novelist/writer, combining passions to become a PC game reviewer for OnlySP. She joined Justin and Reagan as a fellow Podcaster and youtuber, covering the latest in games and development in the industry.

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6 Comments

  1. Very solid review. It sold me on replacing my old Disc version of the game. Thanks again Shawna!!!

    1. Thanks Talos :P

  2. Never played Homeworld…sounds like I’m going to have to now. “shakes fists”

    1. Dooo iiitttt

    2. Definitely worth.

  3. Port it to Consoles, it should make the owners heaps of cash.

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