Homeworld Remastered Collection - Review

Author: Claudio Chianese
Date: 2020-07-30 19:58:26
If you haven't lived under a stone for the past two or three years, you may have noticed that it is fashionable to republish old video game glories in sumptuous editions enriched, improved, modernized, super-megapowered. If you ask my opinion about it, I answer "meh". The idea, for heaven's sake, is good: the younger ones deserve to have access to the masterpieces that we grandfathers enjoyed when we went to middle school. On the other hand, however, one wonders what they really add, the advanced editions, compared to the purely technical adaptations of GOG or DOSBox. Graphic improvements are practically a must: our panoramic screens poorly tolerate the asphyxial resolutions of the past, and updating is necessary to avoid headaches.

Then various special effects, dynamic shadows and lights, and sometimes - in the case of reissues of Infinity Engine titles, for example - even a pinch of additional content, but nothing epochal. In short, at the end of the fair the value of an "enhanced edition" depends on how the game in question stands up to the test of time, hoping that the aesthetic facelift is not too tacky.

The Homeworld saga is, in a sense, a special case. In 1999, the first game in the series broke the mold of real-time strategy, offering highly tactical space battles in a fully three-dimensional environment. And, guess what, in 2015 Homeworld is still innovative and peculiar. Partly because the development of the strategists in real time has been decidedly stagnant, partly because the original Relic project is among the most interesting ever.

It is a space work narrated in a masterly, minimalist way yet full of atmosphere. The Kushans, who could be quietly human, discover the wreckage of an ancient spaceship and the map of what their home world should be. The realization of being, in reality, refugees from space is followed by the construction of a colossal mother ship, which will have to face the sidereal journey in search of the original planet. It is a pity that this does not go well with the powerful Taiidan empire which, invoking a four millennia old treaty, arrives in force and nuclearises the world of adoption of the Kushans.

So we find ourselves leading into the unknown the last, small group of survivors of the entire species, hunted by overwhelming forces. The vibrations of Battlestar Galactica are very strong, and similar is the sense of urgency and impending threat: the perfect basis for a tight strategic.

From mission to mission, we will gather resources and expand our fleet, starting with a few miserable fighters to deploy ion frigates and star cruisers. The fact that the aforementioned fleet is persistent adds a quite satisfactory growth dimension: moreover, concluding a mission without excessive losses allows you to start the next one in less tragic, albeit always difficult, conditions.

To make the countryside truly splendid is the sense of a great military Odyssey: first you cross an asteroid field, then you find yourself under attack by an enemy fleet hidden in a nebula. When our forces form around the mother ship, we will shake the mouse with the determination of who has lost everything, and for this he has nothing to lose.

A strong game, Homeworld, which returns a perfect amalgam of mechanics and narration. Without forgetting the tactical challenge, of course. There are not many strategists who allow you to move your troops in three dimensions: in Homeworld, on the other hand, pressing SHIFT allows you to manage the height axis. A cumbersome system for those accustomed to the most basic point and click controls at Starcraft, but which, on closer inspection, allows a lot of flexibility: attacking an enemy ship from below means hitting its weak points more easily.

On closer inspection, there are subtle differences from the original title, for example in the trajectories of bullets and in the use of fighters, and in essence the peculiarities of the first episode are flattened on the structure of Homeworld II. In the grand scheme of things, however, these differences are not particularly relevant, and the feeling remains similar.

Speaking specifically of this Remastered Collection, the real improvement is noticed from the aesthetic point of view. Homeworld was already beautiful to look at, but now it has fully entered the contemporary era. Of course, it's not Sins of a Solar Empire and, if you study the ships closely, you notice that blocky aesthetic typical of the late 90s. But the particle effects are elegant, the new textures do justice to the original design of the models and the general effect is that of a slow, majestic spectacle worthy of the great science fiction films.

The interface is minimal and, although not exactly usual, it works properly: pity that in full HD the numbers are almost illegible. The menus can be enlarged, of course, but they risk becoming too invasive. Then there is the renewed multiplayer, unique for both titles. It is currently in beta and, in my opinion, less interesting than the single player experience. Mainly, because the different races have very similar fleets: on the other hand, however, the online component gives life to long and reasoned battles, something peculiar compared to the average of the RTS. The package also includes the two titles in the original version but, honestly, there is no reason to start them more than a few minutes, just to indulge in nostalgia.

I played Homeworld Remastered thanks to a Steam code kindly provided by the publisher, dealing with campaigns like General MacArthur who returns to fight in the Philippines. My AMD 290 shows no fluidity problems, and the game is stable - and also available in Italian.