There’s only one way to describe Homeworld. Haunting. Epic. Exhilarating. Grand. Most importantly, genius. Released in 1999, Homeworld had everything a geeky teenager could want: big space ships, big guns, a truly 3D battlefield and spectacular graphics.
Homeworld admittedly doesn’t have the most fantastically original story. A bunch of exiles on a desert planet search for a way home with only a stone tablet to guide them and many enemies in their way. Putting aside the obvious biblical references and numbers of enemies though, the game’s main coup de grace was the fully 3D space in which battles were fought. It was a deceptively simple concept that was in reality very difficult to master.
In the 3D space that was Homeworld, you could actually pull off some properly great strategic moves with your fleet and reserves. If your frigates were baiting some other capital ships, you could pull them into a pincer trap where your heavy bombers could attack them from behind, above or below. Hell, you could hyperspace jump a bigger ship into the fray if you had the resources to do so.
I maintain that the best part of any computer game should be a rich and well written story, whether that story provides background – such as in MMORPGs like EVE Online – or as part of the action like in many strategy games. Despite the story not being especially original, the score, the voice acting and the cutscenes themselves are spine tingling. While your battles are all done in rich colour with fantastical backgrounds like enormous, dead superstructures in space or the diffuse glow of a nebula, the storyline cutscenes between missions are all done in barely animated monochrome. It gives the feeling that you’re part of an intimate story of survival and homecoming, rather than just watching and playing an interactive movie.
While a true sequel to the not quite as good Homeworld 2 is yet to be made, good news has come from the blokes that now own the rights to the Homeworld universe. They’re remaking and remastering the two canonical originals so that they can run on modern computers. This should be utterly sweet. I can’t wait to play the games and hear the roar of the ion cannons again with better graphics.