Monday, June 15, 2015

HomeWorld Remastered

I picked up a copy of Homeworld remastered in the Steam Sale. It wasn't strictly necessary because I still have all three original games (HW1, HW2 and HW Cataclysm) and I have even played them within the last five years on a Windows 7 PC. Nevertheless Homeworld was a stunning achievement of gaming and I am happy to support Gearboxes re-release of the series.

A nice thing about the package is that you get Homeworld 1 and 2 remastered as well as the orginal Homeworld 1 and 2 all in one package. Cataclysm sadly is tied up in licensing limbo so that couldn't be included. 

I have played about five missions in HW1 remastered so far and for comparison I also played a couple of missions in the original Homeworld. The good news is that the remastered version sticks very closely to the original but with better graphics. The bad news is that the sound and music are a lot less atmospheric to my ears. This is a big deal for me. Homeworld had awesome atmosphere and the haunting sound track was a huge part of it. The new game just doesn't seem to hit the same note. To be honest I find it more enjoyable to play the older game with poorer graphics and better sound. The controls are a bit better in the new game which might appeal to a new player but I am not sure you get the full effect without the awesome sound track. EDIT: This entire paragraph may be wrong. on second look I am no longer sure that sound and music is the reason why the game feel so different. It may be more to do with pacing. The remastered game is much faster with more resources and more ships all round. 

At least the collection gives you the choice so I still recommend it.

Edit 1: I played a bit more Homeworld last night and I have come to realise that there are significant gameplay differences between the original game and the remastered game as well as the change in soundtrack. Frigates for example seem to be less durable in the new game that the original version. Perhaps the biggest difference though is that the resource economy seems to be far more generous in the new game. The prices of ships are different so it is hard to directly compare but I seem to build up a huge surplus without even trying in the new game while I regularly run out of resources in the older game. This makes a big difference to game play because in the older game you must start each level with a desperate hunt for resources. In the new game I find that  I usually have a big enough buffer that I don't need to scavenge until after the fighting is done. My initial thought about the impact of soundtrack on atmosphere have also been reinforced by a longer playthrough. It isn't just the big set pieces it the timing of incidental sound effects too. Everything in the original Homeworld is exquisitely choreographed. In the new game feels like much less attention was given to the detail of building and maintaining game atmosphere.

Edit 2: I finished the Homeworld campaign (hurray) so I am going back to look at the remastered version again. I am no longer convinced that the sound and music are the reason why the atmosphere seems different. I think it may be more to do with the pacing of the game. The remastered version seems much faster paced.  

No comments: