Fortunately, the gameplay of Homeworld
sticks up there with the best as well. You control a fleet of ships as they trek across the galaxy in search of their home world -- hence the name of the game. The plot of the game is simply enthralling, and you’ll find yourself waiting with bated breath for each new development as the game goes on. I’d go into more detail, but that would ruin the plotline, so I won’t. Just a fair warning -- do NOT read ahead in the included strategy guide if you want to be surprised by what happens in the game. The game is fresher if you discover it all for yourself.
Homeworld offers true 3D movement in space. No longer are ships confined to a flat 2D plane. They can zoom over and under potential threats, which is extremely easy to do once you understand the in-game controls. This is a game where you’re going to want to have the reference card handy at first -- but soon enough, you’ll know all the keystrokes by heart.
The various ships that you can build range from the small but fast fighters to massive gunships, and each is easily identifiable. In a wonderful touch, the ships stay with you throughout the game -- none of this “magically gaining troops” as you play. This is going to bring you to harvest everything you possibly can from each mission, as there are limited resources. And once a ship is gone, it’s gone for good.
The attack ships can be set up in various configurations, ranging from a solid Wall to a Sphere of instant death for anything around it. The ships themselves move amazingly smooth through the various configurations, and you’re going to just sit and drool the first few times you see a massive firefight.
Of course, you’re going to die the first few times as well. Homeworld is an unforgiving game for those who do not make use of every ship and every resource at their disposal. The strategy guide that is included with the Game of the Year edition really helps to make sure that you do what you need to do, but I suggest playing through each mission at least once, just for the hell of it, and then playing it through again following the guide, so that you can end with the maximum ships and resources.
Each mission in Homeworld moves the plot along, as your Mothership (which looks damned cool, I must say) makes its way across the galaxy. In some missions, you’ll just be knocking the tar out of your enemies -- at least at first. In others, you have to protect your allies or just survive a deadly onslaught while your hyperspace reactor charges back up. This variety keeps the single-player game from getting dull.
And once you’ve beaten the single-player game, you get to enter the wonderful world of multiplayer, where you can duke it out with your friends online. The multiplayer game is fast, furious, and often hard as hell, as you watch seasoned veterans of Homeworld decimate your troops in a matter of seconds. The hints in the strategy guide help, but I found myself floundering against those who had been playing Homeworld since its release online. Ah, well. I suppose I need to round up some friends and teach them who’s the boss instead.
The epic space battles of Homeworld will make your jaw drop, as the ships dive and weave in and out of each other’s way as they fire upon their opponents. And at any time in the game, you can slap the space bar and pause, allowing you time to give orders, catch your breath, and just stare at the pretty ships and bullets and listen to the fantastic music.
It doesn’t get much better than Homeworld.