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Homeworld 2 pages!


Homeworld 2 (HW2), developed by Canadian developers Relic Entertainment and published by Sierra in 2003, is the long awaited sequel to Homeworld. Straight out of the box the first thing that strikes you is the high quality graphics and sound and an epic, wide screen galactic tale. Our heroic Kushan exiles from the first game are now the happily established Hiigarans, until they get visited by the galactic equivalent of Ghengis Khan crossed with the Crusades: the Vaygr. The Vaygr, recently unified under a messianic leader called Makaan, are highly mobile foes with the emphasis on speed and striking power, roaming the galaxy in self contained invasion fleets with the intention of conquering the lot. They've left a trail of ravaged worlds behind them and now have the Hiigarans in their sights.

 

Structurally, its a fairly regular RTS. The sequel isn't trying to come up with anything too new: its more an evolution from the original. Some of the game elements that made Homeworld so unique have been stripped away and replaced by more "mainstream" RTS conventions - although its still all about grand space battles played out in epic splendour in a true three dimensional battlefield. You get a giant headquarters in the form of a Mothership, there are gangs of workers mining resources, you build up an armada of armed vessels with the right factories, research a build tree to release and upgrade your forces, and then sally forth the blast the enemy to space dust before they do the same to you. There are even old fashioned resource expansions: small pockets of strategically placed asteroids to hold and exploit before the enemy comes calling.

Two destroyers cop a serving
Homeworld 2 feels less like the epic history of a refugee civilisation crossing the galaxy and more a straightforward militaristic RTS campaign. The Hiigarans get attacked, and fight off their attackers by seeking out some magic plot trinkets to secure victory before their enemies can do the same. The singleplayer campaign is disappointingly shallow compared to the original plotline, but the multiplayer is a definite step up, offering more strategy and depth. However, bear in mind that Homeworld 2's multiplayer is a lot faster and less forgiving than before, and there's a definite learning curve while you try and work out what each ship can and can't do.

But the losses to the new instalment do give some old Homeworlders pause. Salvaging and Support are struck from the game, and formations have been effectively restructured out of existence. While formations are used by the game engine, there is little human control over them. Certainly, you can't ask for those artistic Spheres or giant Walls anymore. A pity. Refueling is completely gone and Strikecraft can now fly forever without running out of juice. The lone "Harvester" Resource Collector has been split up into squads of (very groovy) worker Resource Collectors, whose character and function will be instantly recognisable to any old StarCraft player.

There are many compensations. Graphics and sounds have, naturally enough, made a great leap forward. The game interface and controls have been streamlined: at long last you can control everything from from the Sensors Manager and flick between build, research and launch screens without having to return to the main display all the time. The camera has scored some extra controls and is a lot more flexible than before. However, a great deal of screen real estate is now consumed by stylish interfaces with lots of useful heads up displays and messages. You can opt to turn these off completely for a pristine game screen - but you won't have as much time for sightseeing this time around. This is also a bit of a shame - because one of the biggest losses has been the ability to record and play back games - you can't anymore!

A big swag of nifty new features have been added. Subsystems, Strike-Forces, and Squadrons are the biggest changes. While the dear old loved and much abused Salvage Corvette might be banished from the game, you get to hijack vessels with Marine Frigates. All these new features and enhancements change the gameplay a fair bit from the original, but I think ultimately for the better. It does require a little practise and a few single player missions to get the feel of things - jumping into Homeworld 2 blind will be frustrating and confusing at first. The AI will quickly show you the holes in your build and tactics. And if you loved setting up different formations in the old game just to watch them fly into battle against a magnificent sunset backdrop you'll almost certainly feel cheated: a lot of time seems to be spent in the Sensor Manager trying to keep up with those fast, touch and go battles. Homeworld 2 is less about goggling at the gorgeous view in space than buckling down a little for some serious strategy gaming. Although it has to be said, it all looks bloody amazing and has an equally impressive ambient soundtrack to complement it.

This is a title best played on a new generation PC using one of the current crop of powerful graphics cards. Graphics and sound are incredibly lush, but demanding. Like most 21st century PC games, anything less than a 1Ghz box is really going to be struggling, even with all the visual options turned down.

All things considered, Homeworld 2 does have the final say in spaceship strategy games when it comes to art direction. A huge amount of thought and effort has clearly gone into how everything looks and this has also been translated into gameplay. Vessels and space look vast; the design work has a maturity and conviction that's breathtaking. Visual sophistication has clearly been ramped up; ship models are more complex, with texturing appropriately scaled for their sizes. Smaller ships have more human sized detailing; big vessels have the same sort of distant feel as an aerial photograph. But its not just detail for detail's sake. While many of its rivals look like botched graphic demos with magnificent backdrops or bury your screen under tonnes of graphical gimmickry and silly effects, all of Homeworld 2's shipping and effects actually look purposeful and wonderfully clear to the eye. The sci-fi book cover art feel has been enhanced; its more like gorgeous artwork sprung to life than photorealism - the art direction is as consistent and expressive as the detailing. Watch the game in action, and you'll see the in-game graphics engine comfortably trumping a lot of the VFX you see on television and some films.

Homeworld 2 OVERVIEW
Version & Install

1.1: Relic's first and only patch addresses many multiplayer issues, technical issues and a sizeable number of significant gameplay balance problems. You can auto-upgrade from within the game or grab the patch from Ausgamers.

Spawns

Nope. But what does, these days?

Demo

Yes! A 141Mb download from Ausgamers.

FAQ's

Sierra's Homeworld 2 FAQ.

Graphic card issues? Try this Relic News forum Bug Report thread for useful tips and info.

Homeworld Shipyards also has a FAQ.

Port forwarding for Homeworld 2, for those behind a firewall or router.

Entertain yourself with some developer's diaries from Relic.

The game's keyboard shortcuts as a downloadable chart.

Wikipedia description of Homeworld 2.

Networks

Up to 6 players on LAN TCP/IP or through the Internet via GameSpy.

Game doesn't seem to lose packets; it simply slows down.

Unlike the first game, Homeworld 2 CANNOT record games!

Maps

Apart from being more spectacular and graphically intense, there are new features such as dust clouds you can hide in and hot looking nebulae that can cook you.

Resources are clumped together in definite old fashioned RTS expansions rather than scattered throughout the map.

Units

All units are spacecraft, or static platform defences.

All units are specialised counters to each other with very strong Paper - Scissor - Rock trumping. There are no all rounders in the game.

All Strikecraft are built and controlled in Squadrons.

Damaged Strikecraft Squadrons score free reinforcements when docked for repairs.

Pilot AI's are fairly sound; ships always attack what they can trump first, unless told otherwise.

Shipping can be arranged into Strike-Forces, self contained taskforces that use fleet AI's, assigning their members to attack targets, and defend or support the members of the group. You can determine what function a Strike-Force has by what ships you assign to it.

Resources

Resource Units (RU's), found in asteroids, retired ships, or space wreckage.

Resource Collectors now come in gangs, like regular RTS worker units.

Resource Collectors can salvage capital ship debris for extra RU's.

When your Resource Collectors clean out an expansion or a wreckage site, they stop and wait for further instructions.

Research

Subsystems unlock lines of units and upgrades.

Tech tree is much more extensive than the original game and comes in several concurrent streams - picking the right ones are crucial for success.

All techs and upgrades costs RU's, and takes time to research.

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The Sierra logo, Homeworld, Homeworld 2, Homeworld Cataclysm, and the Homeworld logo are trademarks of Sierra Entertainment, Inc. Relic Entertainment and the Relic Entertainment logo are trademarks of Relic Entertainment, Inc.

Last modified Fri, Jun 19 2009 by Lindsay Fleay