Homeworld Remastered Collection Impressions: Our Thoughts So Far On The HD Remake Of A Strategy Classic

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Feb 27, 2015 05:51 PM EST
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Homeworld Remastered Collection launched this week, and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on it a couple days early.

Below are my initial impressions from playing roughly 10 hours of Homeworld Remastered Collection, mainly experiencing the Homeworld campaign in the remastered version. I didn't get a chance to play the original games before this release, so I made sure to split some time between the classic games and skirmishes against the computer in both titles to get a feel for the differences and the additions that have been made since.

The Remastered Games Are Visually Impressive

Right off the bat (and from what you can no doubt see without playing the game yourself) it's easy to see the visuals are vastly improved over the original titles. This is to be expected some 15 years later, but the ship models and space itself look great in Homeworld Remastered. Everything is softer and less blocky, and the ships maintain their appealing aesthetics with even more detail. The lighting is great, too--looking at the nearest sun or nebula with your ships in the foreground casts some cool shadows, and nebulae glow with vibrant light. The jump from Homeworld 2 to the remastered games isn't as large (it still definitely looks better), but the difference between Homeworld and the new games is vast.

The Spirit Of The Original Games Is Maintained Entirely

I didn't play the games when first released, but I made sure to play some of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 to get a feel for what the originals were like. The same presentation and dialogue is carried over, and the campaign keeps its mystique and charm. More realistic visuals and effects only make it more immersive, and one of the most engaging narratives in strategy gaming is alive and well. This is a labor of love, and it shows.

The Controls And UI Are Vastly Improved

The remastered titles take after Homeworld 2 more than Homeworld, and that's okay. The multiplayer and CPU skirmishes are more similar to the second game, and the UI resembles Homeworld 2 more than the original title. That is to be expected since the first game refined the features of the first, but Homeworld Remastered evolves it further. The clutter of Homeworld 2's interface has been cleaned up and made more intuitive, and the new games are much more in line with modern game design trends. Navigating space was somewhat difficult in Homeworld, and many of the same vertical movement and panning mechanics from Homeworld 2 have been carried over and refined. There is no busy bottom bar, which is both less overwhelming and lets you see more of space, and everything can be run through popup menus and hotkeys.

The Games Themselves Are Fantastic

If you did not play the originals and are less interested in comparisons with those than you are with whether or not this is a good game, the answer is an emphatic yes. The series did not become a strategy classic through middling design, and it's one of the smartest and most engaging strategy titles I've played. It seems simple at first, but there's a lot to consider at once as you build ships and maneuver your fleets. The story is interesting and mysterious, and you feel the pressure on you to succeed in hostile scenarios both from a gameplay and narrative perspective. Objectives and missions are varied enough to remain engaging, too--it's not recycled goals.

Flying ships in formation is satisfying, and as I said, it often looks great (and very cool). It can be a little confusing to learn prerequisites and an ideal research path, but the same could be said for the genre as a whole. The controls make navigating empty space pretty simple, though they too take some getting used to--still, merely jump in to the original title to see how far it's come. Homeworld Remastered is fun, engaging, and it looks good: a gift to fans of the series who will appreciate a modern version, and a treat for those experiencing it for the first time.

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