Sierra finally adds a new dimension to real time strategy games…the third dimension. Their new release, Homeworld takes strategy from the flat battlefield and shoots it into the darkness of space. Forget about battles for the high ground, in space, you have to defend and attack in all directions at once.
The plot of the game involves colonists from a barren wasteland planet called Kharak. The colonist have recently uncovered a mysterious guidestone mentioning their race, and a single word…Hiigara…home. It seems that their past has turned out to be a lie, they thought they were from their barren world, and it’s the goal of their people to locate this lost planet Hiigara.
In order to do this, construction begins on a massive mothership designed to carry over 600,000 of people back home. It takes over fifty years for the mothership to be constructed, and upon activation, final preparations are made for the trip back to Hiigara.
However, during a test of the mothership, a 4,000 edict is violated when hyperdrive technology is used. As a result, when returning back to the Kharak installation, they find that all of their technology and structures, with the exception of the cryopods carrying people, have been destroyed. There is nothing left but to lead everyone to their new life at Hiigara, with only the mothership and the other vessels escorting its wing.
Hmm, Homeworld might sound familiar to fans of Battlestar Galactica, leading a "ragtag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest." In fact, if BG was licensed into a game, I’m sure this is what it would be like, a complicated 3-D strategy game involving the survival of your mothership against unbelieveable odds.
The mothership can be pictured as your typical construction site, the source of all your new ships and income. From here, you can construct research ships to learn new ship and weapon technology. Or you can create resource collectors to harvest the asteroids and space dust required to pay for new purchases.
Attack units vary from the simple scout fighter (equal to a foot soldier) to the corvettes (equal to a tank) and all the way up the tech tree to more exotic weapons such as Ion cannon frigates (like the Tesla tanks from Red Alert). In addition, flight groups can be set into various formations for the right moment of combat (Claw formation works great for strikes while Wall formation would fit best for defensive purposes) and the intensity of how your ships fight (from aggressive to evasive).
All action is controlled via a 3D perspective which takes a lot of getting used to. From controlling the camera to sending your fleets to battle, you will have a lot to deal with. Sometimes it might get to be far too complicated. A well thought out training session helps out, but it can still be overwhelming to some.
Since Homeworld is in all 3D, it strongly benefits those with a 3D accelerator, and on a Voodoo3, the effects are drop dead gorgeous! Sometimes you will wonder whether you are playing a PC game or watching a blockbuster movie.
And the beauty does not stop with the graphics either, as the soundtrack by the Choir of Voyces is one of the most engrossing I have ever heard. It even gets hypnotic at times and it fits Homeworld’s dark mood real well.
There is also an end theme by the group Yes that can be played on the credits menu, which is excellent as well.
Homeworld is as epic as everyone said it would be. With its revolutionary 3D combat engine, gorgeous soundtrack, and involving gameplay, it is an automatic winner. However, the game’s complexity might be too much for some new players. Those that are easily frustrated would only think of this as a 4 GiN Gem title. But for strategy game fans like myself and those with a lot of patience, this game is a perfect 5 Gems! So if you have conquered every real-time strategy game on the market and yawn with new releases, this one will take you for a spin and might not let go.
This is commander Adama, er a, Hargosh, signing off.