Sunday, November 13, 2011

Homeworld 2

I loved the original Homeworld the beautiful beautiful atmospheric space based RTS from 1999. Homeworld Cataclysm was a worthy follow on but when Homeworld 2 came out in 2003 it didn't receive the same universal praise. Perhaps influenced by those lack-lustre reviews I never got around to playing the game until now despite the copy that has been sitting on my shelf of "to be played" games for years.

Anyhow the game has kept me entertained for more than a week and I have only one more level to go before I complete the single player campaign. With the benefit of distance I can see that it is a good game but it suffers from comparison with it's predecessor. As a follow up it would have had to pull a few surprises to have the same impact as the original game and it doesn't. The first game just overflowed with brilliant levels but here the level design is competent rather than stunning.

The developers also took a curious approach to difficulty setting. The levels are quite challenging overall. Like most single player games however it does get easier once you figure things out but the game ensures that the AI always has a big advantage in forces so you can never get too complacent. Rather than give a difficulty slider they have auto adjusting difficulty which adjusts the number of enemies you have to face in accordance with the reserves of forces you bring into each level. This means you can game the system by deliberately depleting your own forces which is just silly.

A personal gripe is that the pace of the game has increased since the first Homeworld. There is rarely time to marshal forces at the start of a level before an enemy attacks. This is made worse by the fact that most levels auto-complete once you achieve the final objective so you often find yourself catapulted into a new level with forces in rag order after a heavy battle.

The game plays well enough on Windows 7 64 bit in its original version. Oddly enough the later 1.1 patch is not compatible with Windows 7 but I didn't find any game breaking bugs in the unpatched game. This would be an issue for mult-iplayer of course but good luck finding opponents at this stage.

2 comments:

Van Hemlock said...

I've often thought Homeworld could have done with a more sandboxey approach. It would be nice just to be able to experiment with the units and tech trees a bit, instead of always being up against the grinder the whole way through.

Love the game to bits, but to this day have yet to complete it!

mbp said...

The good news VH is that the original Home world can be played on a modern computer and it still impresses.

While some of the missions are very intense at least Homeworld 1 does often give you time to look around. Both of its sequels were more intense in that respect with no real let up in the combat.

It is the breathtaking beauty of some of the missions though that made Homeworld for me.

Kadesh: Who could ever forget the haunting music as you are attacked by god like needle long spacecraft and their never ending swarms of minions.

or

Sea of Lost souls: You come across a region of space that is empty except for a a mysterious structure that is surrounded by spinning apparently lifeless ships.

or

The Karos graveyard: filled with the debris of an ancient war but why do your ships keep mysteriously disappearing?

or

Bridge of Sighs: Your objective is surrounded by a ball of over 100 enemy frigates

or

Perilous: An asteroid is hurtling towards your mother ship and you have only minutes to save it.