Iím sure youíre curious -- does Cataclysm
offer a new paradigm to the Real-Time Strategy genre? In short: no. But is it fun as hell? In short: yes.
If I had to pin down the feeling I got from playing Homeworld: Cataclysm, itís something like ďThe Empire Strikes BackĒ as opposed to the original ďStar Wars.Ē The world is a little grittier, the stakes a little higher, the enemies a good bit tougher. Unfortunately, itís not better than the original (Empireís claim to fame), but itís certainly not a shabby experience either.
Youíre a member of the Somtaaw Kiith, a small clan by most standards, made much smaller by the fact that most of your kiith was destroyed due to events in the first game. So you occupy the fringes of the Homeworld (now called by its real name, Hiigara) society. Youíve managed to get a few largish ships made by the original Mothership, which now sits above Hiigara, making ships for the larger Kiith. So off you go in the Kuun-Lan, out to continue the mining business that your ancestors took up ages ago back on Kushan.
Of course, nothing goes the way you plan. You start off coming to save the day in orbit around Hiigara, fighting off Imperialist Taiidani. Those are not your only enemies, however -- Raiders soon show up, and a few missions in, you meet one of the most evil bad guys in the history of RTSís. The Beast shows no mercy.
From that point on in the game, itís pretty much a goal of survival. But enough about the plot. How does it play? In a nutshell, a whole lot like the first game. You have a ďmothershipĒ of sorts (The Kuun-Lan), which soon gains the ability to add modules to it that take the place of the generic Research Modules in the first game. You can also produce ships and whatnot. A massive advantage is that the Kuun-Lan can move without using the Hyperspace drive, which means you can actually use it as a defense or an offense. Very nice.
There are other changes too, of course. There are tons of new ship types, and a few of them can link together to cause more damage and have more abilities. There are more varied ship types as well, a larger tech tree, and more single-player missions. There are crystals which can be refined for resources as well as exploded for damage. You can set waypoints for your fleet to follow. You can speed the game up to make resource collecting and traversing long distances much faster.
And then thereís The Beast. This enemy changes your strategy completely since it has the ability to take over ships you send against it. Eep.
If all thatís not enough, thereís multiplayer, which offers basically the same options as the multiplayer in the original game, with the added bonus of being able to play as The Beast, which is a decidedly different stratagem. Itís a pleasant change from the relative stalemate of the original gameís races.