1 Player vs CPU Battles / Campaigns
Minimum System Requirements
Intel Pentium III 833MHz or AMD Athlon 833MHz
256 MB RAM
32 MB OpenGL supported hardware, GeForce or better (with Transform and Lighting), ATI Radeon 7500 or better (with Transform and Lighting).
Requires DirectX 9.0 and a compatible driver.
250 MB Hard Drive space
Pentium 4 1.4GHz or higher
64 MB or faster GeForce 3 or Radeon 8500 that supports Transform and Lighting.
512 MB RAM or higher
Welcome all you battle hardened, space commanders left with a desire after the last episode of gaming in the Homeworld universe.
The story continues four millennia after the Hiigarans secured their home world from previous alien threats to their civilization. They have been living in relative peace and prosperity for thousands of years when a new threat emerged, an organized group of a space borne, galactic nomads called the Vaygr.
The Vaygr are a collection of different warlord races that travel from system to system enslaving other races, cannibalizing alien technologies and conquering civilizations. Over time the Vaygr have discovered ancient ruins that lead some Vaygr warlords to believe that they are descendants of the Sajuuk-Khar, the Chosen of Sajuuk.
Kept apart by space and time the Hiigarans and the Vaygr are about to meet. A warlord named, Makaan has discovered a hyperspace Core, unlocked the secret of hyperspace travel, and united the Vaygr into a united fleet that is threatening to destroy the Hiigarans in the quest to track down the location of the two other remaining cores.
Sound familiar? Intergalactic civilization threatened with extinction because of an invading alien civilization... well it maybe familiar, but it is definitely challenging entertainment that forces you to pay attention to strategy, tactics and risk, while trying to overcome an unrelenting enemy.
Like the two predecessors Homeworld and Homeworld: Cataclysm, you are surrounded by a cinematic, universe complete with dust clouds, planets and lots of space debris. However, great improvements in the new 3D engine allows cinematic graphics to be woven into the game play.
I pleased with the results of Relic's 3D rendering engine efforts, which allow the level of detail of the environment to be increased to the point where a sense of realism is conveyed to the gamer. I like the hide-n-seek game with fleets of ships disappearing from view as they move through dust clouds.
Even better is that the 3D engine does a fine job for close ups: you have the ability to zoom up close to check out the detail of individual frigates and destroyers as they shoot off torpedoes, fire beam weapons, then erupt as violent shockwaves tear them apart. I found that I lost quite a few of my first battles because I was really checking out the environmental detailing and the animation of the fleets.
I found that my system lagged a bit when on the higher graphics settings when there was a lot going on screen, but I found that even the medium and lower video settings offered enough detail to convince my visual senses that I was fully immersed into the chaos of space combat.
So even if you haven't fully partaken the PC upgrades arms race, you will still enjoy this game very much. I ran the game on a Duron 1000 CPU with 640 MB RAM and an ATI Radeon 9000Pro card - definitely not a hardcore gaming machine, but yet I found the game quite responsive while my cravings for visual detail was satisfied.
The feeling that you really are the only hope for a desperate race of people fighting off enslavement is reinforced by the voice acting and da movie quality cut-scenes that stitch together the story of the Hiigarans.
I think one area that this third instalment to the Homeworld universe improved on was the sound. I found it excellent, offering enough detail that when playing in a darkened room with my headphones on I jumped more than once when my vantage point was passed by a squadrons of interceptors and Corvettes firing their weapons as they came into range of the enemy.
Another nice feature of the game is that you can set the level of battlefield chatter to your current preference. Although, I did find that the unit reports usually came a little late when announcing that they were in trouble, but that could have been my perception of time during some very intense combat situations.
The voice acting of da movie cut-scenes raised the bar that the battle chatter did not really meet. I found it a little flat as units would report "I am hit" with desperate emotion that would accompany a real report given by someone that just realized that they are about to be torn to pieces by the pursuing enemy fighters.... a little more emotion here would be a small addition that would allow the game to step up the adrenaline that is experienced when commanding you fleet in battle.
As for the music, it was so well put together and fit so smoothly into the game that the end result is a subtle, but noticable dramatic effect that really pulls the gamer into the gameplay. What is going on here? Well, Relic has been working on developing dynamic, gameplay sensitive music that fits into the context of the gamer's situation. This is one technique that really helps make the game an entertainment success.
Like the previous Homeworld games, Homeworld 2 carries over the units from your previous missions. This can be good, but it can also be a challenge if you barely made it through the last mission.
And that leads us to what I find the best about this game: It is a challenge to master. I would recommend to any novice to the real-time space strategy genre to spend some time in one-on-one combat versus the CPU, or try to find a novice clan on the net.
The game story is guided by the smoothness of the mission end dialogue and the following cut-scene movie. The time between missions is short and I found a couple of times where I had just enough time to come down from adrenaline of winning the previous battle.
There is a sensors management view of the battle-verse that is accessible by pressing the spacebar, this allows da gamer to step back and take in the big picture of a given battle area. The controls with the mouse control took a bit to get use to at first, but once I was warmed up and had the hotkeys memorized, the game really flowed and dawn came early...
The build queues for the Mothership and the carriers are large enough that you can set them to manufacture reinforcements while you concentrate on the battle... only to find that you need the reinforcements sooner than you would like because the Vaygr have come in larger forces than your scouts could see!
The AI of the enemy fleet was intelligent enough to send interceptors to the weakest points (resource collectors) in my defences and kept me on my toes. You have to use different tactics and fleet command to be able to defeat the enemy. This is one game that you don't just sit and build up units then hap-hazardly fly your horde into the enemy controlled area and expect to win the game. You will run out of resources and have your forces drained as the enemy will reinforce and make strategic moves against your most vulnerable positions.
The tactics are easy to assign and can be assigned to individual control groups of ships, which is another nice feature of da game interface that I like, it is easy and intuitive.
First two missions are very easy... cakewalks designed to get you used to the controls and the management of building reinforcements. Third mission is where things get serious and the difficulty is cranked up and you will find that your fleet is really outnumbered, out gunned and having to regroup for counter strikes against waves of Vaygr assault craft and destroyers.
Make no mistake about it this is a challenging game and even experienced gamer will find this game a challenge.
Overall, I found this game a refreshing challenge in the genre of real-time strategy games that started with games like Warcraft, and it does its best to provide da gamer with a powerful, fully featured, intuitive control interface for commanding all those units.
I feel that da game improved on its predecessors and that the developers have listened to the mod gamer community. Relic has already made available the mod tools for Homeworld 2, and encourages community participation in the development of the Homeworld engine. They have even released the source code to the Homeworld: Cataclysm game engine for those that want to really get to know the Homeworld universe.
Even though I got my butt kicked for making silly little tactical errors like attacking too soon or too late, I still found my self fully entertained and satisfied with da overall experience.
Give Homeworld 2 to yourself as a stocking stuffer, or give it to that special gamer in your life, so you can borrow it off of them.... either way have fun enjoying a challenge.
Platform: PC Games