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Gearbox Software, the folks best known for their work on Borderlands, also has a bit of a reputation for reviving video game franchises. While Duke Nukem Forever left a sour taste in most people's mouths, I'm happy to report that Homeworld: Remastered Collection leaves a soothing sensation that your taste buds will appreciate, especially for the inner RTS gamer inside. There are two games included in this collection, Homeworld and Homeworld 2, both representatives of the 1999 and 2003 PC games respectively.
While not the biggest video game hit at the time, there was a cult following for the series that made PC gamers want to boost their graphic cards and turn up the volume as they shot down enemy ships and controlled fleets of spaceships with a simple keyboard input. Sometimes games from the past don't look or play like your nostalgia-riddled brain remembers, but Homeworld: Remastered Collection manages to not only retain the nostalgia, but make it look even better in glorious HD. If you don't want the HD version, the original Homeworld and Homeworld 2 are also included in their untouched format, so there's something for everybody.
Space: Not So Final
For the uninitiated, the Homeworld games are all about deep space combat through controlling squadrons of ships. Your environment is a fully immersive 3D space, and you can move the camera in any direction you see fit. Even zooming in for tactical viewing, which points out the beautiful detailing of each ship and laser beam, is beneficial when it comes to planning the right combat moves.
Through the use of hotkey inputs and mouse control, you'll assign groups to your ships, have them collect resources from asteroids, then use these resources to produce more ships, more upgrades for those ships, and then go out and blow up more bad guy ships. It's simple, it's intuitive, and everything you need is either available on your screen or a single key input away.
Interceptor Smashes Corvette
Now, of course, zipping around and shooting enemy ships is fun, and something anyone can step into, but Homeworld and Homeworld 2 go beyond simple pointing and clicking. There is a bit of strategy to this RTS game, and the key to succeeding or failing a mission is based on the type of ships that you own and the type of ships that the enemy possesses. Whether you have interceptor, multi-gun corvettes, or assault frigates, each ship has pros and cons that turn the game into a very epic, large scale battle of rock-paper-scissors. Of course, calling the game a giant battle of rock-paper-scissors kind of ruins the excitement, so instead let's just refer to it as a cosmic battle with a heavy emphasis on planning ahead and controlling the right ships at the right time.
Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It...
The fifteen-hour campaigns for each Homeworld game is vast and challenging. There are plenty of missions that involve intercepting enemy ships, fighting off surprise attacks, securing enemy ships in order to collect data, and even defending allies against swarms of enemy fleets. The missions are paced well enough that they don't feel tedious, and while there are going to be a few tough missions that may make you pull your hair out, the auto-save feature will allow you to go back to a previous mission should you need to. All these missions together turn into a great story that you don't normally get out of your standard RTS game. The music and voiceover work has been updated and upgraded, and they help make an already great game even better -- definitely worth your time and investment.
Beyond the single player campaigns, both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 also have multiplayer modes. You can play as one of four different factions from both games, so there's a fun bit of game crossover for the diehard Homeworld fans to appreciate. Each faction has their own unique look and special abilities for certain ships that make them stand out. What might turn off some gamers is the slow pace of Homeworld's ships compared to modern day RTS games, and in the multiplayer it's much more evident that a bit of a quicker pace would have been preferred, but it doesn't stop the game from being any less fun online.
This game was reviewed with a Steam copy provided by the publisher.
Images courtesy of Gearbox Software.