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HomeWorld

9/10

Ever seen those movies that make you want to get up and cheer? That is the feeling that I get every time I play HomeWorld. HomeWorld is the first strategy game that I have found that goes beyond the basics of the standard Strategy game. Of course this game has its' roots well dug in the past mold of strategy games, but HomeWorld contains a charm that brings it alive.

The story of Homeworld is that you are a civilization, millions of years into the future that has forgotten all about your past. They have no recollection of where they came from or who were their ancestors. So they send out a probe to go to the farthest reaches of the galaxy when it malfunctions while in orbit around the planet, turns back around, and starts to scan their own planet. Under the depths of a desert the probe finds a large ship buried under the sand. Inside this ship a map is found with a line from the planet your civilization is on to the a place called "Higarra", which means home. So from here you build a mother ship that takes your civilization over 50 years to complete, and off you go on your epic journey to find "Higarra".

Like many games that come out today, this game has a tutorial. The tutorial consists of ten chapters, each that teach you everything ranging from harvesting to battle. As you complete each chapter the game saves your progress. My first thoughts about having my progress saved as I finished the tutorials was that these saves were just taking up memory. My mind quickly changed as I found myself coming back at various time to make sure what I learned and relearn some things.

On the box this game claims that it is 3D real time strategy game, and this game is in every way fully 3D. All ships can move in any direction and can flip and turn, and after all the ships after it has completed your orders, it becomes parallel to an imaginary plane in the world, which keeps people like me, who loses his way driving to school, from getting disorientated.

But even if you get disorientated, All you have to do is press the spacebar. Home world has created a fully rotational 3d map with a visible 2D plane in the middle of it, for your and my convenience. You can tell this map was made with thought, everything is controllable from the map. Anything in the world can be selected and can be focused on with a few clicks and taps.

A veteran strategy gamer will quickly feel at home playing this game. It has everything that all the older strategy games have. You have collector ships, which are used for harvesting asteroids. You have research ships that are used for, you guessed it, researching new technology. Salvage corvettes, to capture enemy ships and to get material from remnants of old blown up ships. Then you have the real stars of the game, the weaponry. You are presented with a whole slew of big ships with big guns.

As the game is played, the story slowly unfolds by taking control of the game and changing from full screen to letterbox mode. From here the cinematic are played through via the in game engine. When I first saw another mother ship heading straight for mine, I was like "OH, CRAP!" and went on a clicking frenzy as I slowly saw the other mother ship descend over mine. My clicks made no difference, but don't worry. The mother ship was a friendly one.

Which brings me to another point, this whole game doesn't consist of just having to destroy and conquer. Some missions don't even have a group to fight against. In one mission you have to plow a path for the mother ship as it moves through an asteroid field and make sure that it doesn't make one too many collisions with oncoming asteroids. A very tense moment for me, because all my ships had only one reason to live, to protect the mother ship. They would kill themselves by ramming into the asteroids. The sound of the explosions and the emotionless voice of the mother ship repeatedly saying "Frigate Lost" sent shivers down my spine. I don't think that the situation I was in was the only reason I was so tense. The music in this game is very moving. The music in HomeWorld is almost all percussion and weird opera style, but it changes to every situation. The music itself tells the whole story, you can foresee if something good or bad is going to happen just by listening to the change in the music. If HomeWorld doesn't win an award then the music most certainly deserves it alone.

The sound effects though , unlike the music, leaves something to be desired. For example the sound of the bullets doesn't seems to have much bass to convey the destruction and force they have. I have the very same complaint about the sound of the Ion Beams, they have a low Humm. Not a slicing sound of death! But the folks at Relic Entertainment were smart enough to include an equalizer for people like me. A few minutes playing with the equalizer, and I was happily hearing the sound effects the way I wanted them. I always find the need for good sound and graphics to convince myself that I really am part of this adventure.

Graphics in this game are very simply breathtaking. The ships are detailed down to the teeth. The textures scale too, making sure that the best performance can be achieved on any machine. The ribbon like trail that every ship leaves behind not only looks cool by also tells you which is your ship. You can focus on any ship, including enemy ships, in midst of a huge galactic battle and watch him duke it out with hundreds of other ships. The effects don't stop with the ships. All backgrounds in the game are beautifully pre-rendered and change with each level. The effects are amazing, from the flare of the gun muzzle, to the huge explosions. Amazing leading an awe-inspiring battle in this game is fairly easy.

The control for HomeWorld is very basic. As long as you know how to click and drag, you'll be fine. A mouse with a wheel is preferred for this game, but it isn't necessary. I played through half of the game with a mouse that did not have one, then for the last half I played with a wheel. I found that the wheel didn't give me an edge over how I played without one. I tested this by playing online against others and found that I played the same.

Multiplayer gaming is very linear. Multiplayer is played via WON. WON (World Opponent Network) is a free service that pairs people up for matches. All that each multiplayer game does is pit you against other people online to a battle. Lag isn't a much of a problem with this game, but the battles which almost always include over 100 ships will really make your computer chug. There are four different online battles. They all seem variants of the same main idea, to kill all or one ship of the other team first.The battles are too linear for me, and HomeWorld includes a option to play a quick skirmish against the computer. So going online isn't even necessary. This is all my opinion though, many people very happily log on all the time and blast away.

HomeWorld is a real CPU hog when it came to the huge battles that occurred later in the game. I played HomeWorld with a Pentium 233 K6 with 64 megs of ram and a voodoo3 2000. The game ran at a great speed of 35-40 fps in the beginning of the game. As the battles slowly became larger, my frame rate started to deteriorate. Towards the end of the game I was reduced to a mere slide show! The box says that a Pentium II was required for this game, so I was pushing my luck anyway. I took the game over to my friends to see how it ran on His Pentium III 500 MHz with 128 megs of ram and a voodoo3 2000. The game ran great, running between 50-75 fps through the whole game. HomeWorld supports OpenGL and Direct3D, I found that OpenGL was more aesthetically pleasing then Direct 3D was. The graphics didn't seem to have as good lighting in Direct3D.

All complaints aside, HomeWorld isn't your usual strategy game. HomeWorld is an epic adventure packaged in a box. Right from pulling the manual out of the box, to the ending credits of this game you'll be cheering along and cringing with every defeat. If you've been itching for a good strategy game that pulls away from every other strategy game that you have ever played, the get you paws on this game as fast as you can.

Mohammad Kakwan

If you have any thoughts on this game please contact me at

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