Home. There is hope in the word.
For the people on Kharak, the word brings a new challenge. For centuries there were two prevailing thoughts – one that the gods had punished the people and placed them on the desolate desert world, the other that the people were meant to suffer in the wasteland. And then, the discovery. A city older than the tribal factions in the polar regions, surrounding a metal object that were the remnants of a space ship. And there was the guidestone, a map with a single word – Hiigara, or home. The clans realized that this was a map to lead them to the home world. It was a uniting force and throughout the years, the clans labored together to build a ship that would take them all home.
That is the foundation for Homeworld, a Sierra/Relic release that is amazing in concept, and a menacing challenge to game players.
The program utilizes specific 3D accelerators, but offers a Glide plug-in to accommodate most systems. Failing that, the game can be played using the software that accompanies the game. In any mode, this is an awesome game to look at, and even better to play.
Begin in the tutorial, a gentle guide through the controls of the program. Though overly simplified, it is a wonderful walk-through to every function of the program and sets the stage for what is to follow. The manual, though it does not feature a one-stop shop of hot keys, does detail the functions and lays the back story in a tremendous manner.
And then there is the game itself.
Do not enter lightly into this, thinking it only a shooter game or a strategy challenge. Homeworld presents the best of both, from interstellar combat against forces aligned to stop the mother ship from completing its journey, to managing resources and research to further the mission.
The persistent voice of fleet command can be intrusive, but maintaining calm and clear thinking will get the game player much further ahead in the long run.
The game begins with leaving what many thought to be the home world – Kharak. Ravaging the planet for all available resources is a must. Then venture forth into the coldness of space, ready to meet challenges – like the first presented by the Khar Selim. There are several different ways to play, either controlling a small unit or the entire fleet. In either case, be ready for the ride of your life. This is not an easy game to play. The detail is tremendous and the 16 missions offered, en route to the final objective, get progressively harder. Three-dimensional control over the camera angles only accentuates the experience.
With ion cannons pulsating and guided missiles flying unerringly to targets, this program features non-stop visual delight. Explosions are well rendered and the game’s artificial intelligence pushes the program along nicely. There is never a lack of a challenge within the confines of this game. The player interface is easy to circumnavigate and the options menu allows terrific control over minute details – such as ship color and fuel consumption.
However, Homeworld’s greatest accomplishment lies in its graphics. The ships are incredibly detailed, and the star systems are magnificent. After a while, the overall mission seems so real and urgent. Time gets lost among the stars.
Sierra and Relic have a bona fide hit on their hands. Homeworld is a marvel of graphics coupled with concept.
The program supports Internet play through the Won.net network.
Installation: 6. Unspectacular at best, but the program does have a timer to show how much install time is left.
Gameplay: 8. Seamless and consistent, this is non-stop action.
Graphics: 9. Even when using software-enabled graphics, this is a great looking program. It absolutely soars in 3D mode.
Sound: 8. Though space combat vehicles often feature repetitious sounds, the stereo quality and little ambient audio bytes are terrifically re-produced.
Concept: 8. This is a new vision for the genre – a search for home.
Difficulty: 9. Though the concept is simple enough, realizing the game’s goals are tough.
Value: 9. A wonderful game, well rendered and worth the investment in time and money.