Going back to remaster a much-loved game of the past is a minefield. Peppered with unseen issues that could explode in your face, trying to recreate a title woven into the hearts and minds of fans around the world doesn’t always end well. These worries shot straight into the minds of many when Gearbox announced that they’d gotten their mitts on the hallowed space-based RTS Homeworld and it’s sequel Homeworld 2. With the bitter aftertastes of Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines still fresh in the mouths of many, the question of could they do Homeworld justice in the Homeworld Remastered Collection was raised.
It’s a fair question too. After acquiring Duke Nukem Forever Gearbox didn’t exactly give people hope. It was a commercial and critical flop that did nothing to help those who’d been waiting 14 years for the Duke to return. Aliens: Colonial Marines didn’t exactly fair better either with numerous accusations of misleading promotional materials. Homeworld Remastered Collection luckily bucks this recent trend of non-Borderlands Gearbox creations. It’s an almost totally faithful remaster which attempts to rekindle what PC gamers first felt in 1999.
Alright so we’ve gone on for too long now without actually explaining what in the name of all that’s holy Homeworld actually is. Both titles put you into the role of commanding officer of the Kushan civilization. After an experiment in entering hyperspace, their home planet is decimated and they power onto a galactic journey to find their origins. The first of Homeworld Remastered Collection‘s two titles gets them from this start point to their origin world, with the second focusing upon their defense of their position.
Sounds like a pretty basic story from the outset but there’s a great deal of writing skill on display . Through events during normal play and astoundingly detailed hand-drawn FMV sequences, the tale spins a silvery web that’ll catch you when you least suspect it before wrapping you up until you’re done. Both entries are filled to the brim with missions too. With each of these taking on average 60 minutes or so, there’s a good 30 hours of content just in single player. Admittedly some of these missions are actually shorter than the average but you’ll want to restart them pretty often.
You’ll see why shortly.
Gameplay in the Homeworld Remastered Collection is the very definition of a real-time strategy game in space. You build a bunch of ships from your Mothership or Carriers, then send them off into battle against opponents. Ships go all the way from tiny Interceptors to devastatingly powerful Destroyers. Every single one looks beautiful and yet loyal when compared to its older counterparts. Ships were not redesigned in order to maintain a faithful approach. What they were given instead was a fresh lick of paint, pulling them up to a level which is by all accounts magnificently jaw-dropping. Even the tiniest little Scouts look like they’ve been lovingly recreated.
Commanding ships into combat is done on a 3D plane of space which does give you a sense of scale rarely seen in games even today. You can launch a handful of bombers up to a point much higher than everything else, ordering them to swoop down and deliver a crushing payload onto whatever unsuspecting vessel is in their path. There’s a load of ways to live out your dreams as a fleet commander in the Homeworld Remastered Collection just like this. Set up three destroyers before bringing up frigates from below to rip apart the opposing fleet and you’ll be grinning like a kid eating candy floss for hours.
Whipping ships into formations of your own creation is all well and good, but there’s already a system for that in the Homeworld Remastered Collection. Or at least there should have been. You can select from a wide range of formations (the Claw being our personal favorite) and your ships will fly towards battle holding this formation. In the original Homeworld (whose beautiful soundtrack has also returned), these were incredibly important to your success while in the second they were not quite as central to the strategic experience.