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  Review: Homeworld 2
On 10/17/03 by Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson

Developer: Relic
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: 09/16/03
ESRB: "T" for Teen
Official Site: homeworld2.sierra.com
Platform(s): PC

Gameplay
The interface in Homeworld 2 is more or less the same as its predecessor, although a few minor things have been improved upon or enhanced. For the most part though Relic has left this alone under the "we didn't fix
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something that wasn't broken" category. The bottom of the screen consists of fleet management tools and allows you to effortlessly organize task forces to deal with problems as they arise, to build more ships, and to, of course, manage your all important resources. Control wise they are well done too. There is a minor problem though and that has to do with the sheer number of different keys that are all important to enjoying the game. In other words, you must memorize nearly every key and its function to effectively beat the enemy and manage your fleet and as such the learning curve is substantial.

What really "ruined" the game for me was the difficultly of the single player missions. If I were to tell you this game has only a few hours worth of learning to do before you become even semi-proficient with it I'd be doing you an injustice. Replace the word "few hours" with "countless hours" and hopefully you are beginning to catch my drift. After all, I consider myself a pretty hardcore gamer (spending often upwards of 5 hours a day "gaming") and take it from me; this baby is hard to learn!
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With that said the enemy's artificial intelligence ranges from the stupid to brilliant scale depending on how much of a challenge you're hunting for. Unit wise there are quite a few different ones to choose from and each falls into a specific classification such as scout or frigate. For better a worse, Relic has taken a page out of Electronic Arts playbook ala Command and Conquer Generals by ensuring that each unit has a very specific countermeasure.

Next up we've got the actual combat between you and your opponent. Now this is where I truly get to thrash the game, it's absolutely horrible! Gotcha, just kidding - in reality the combat featured in Homeworld 2 is some of the most realistic (as much as one can guess for space combat) and beautiful looking I've seen to date. Much to my surprise some of the control aspects of combat were removed from the game and it takes a much more automated position. Also, much to my surprise is this didn't bother me at all and by the end of the single-player campaign the click + attack methodology had actually grown on me. Another nice addition to combat is the capability of attacking from every which way. Sure, it does take some getting used to but once you get a hang of it you feel like every other game in the world should include it too. Moving onto the code let me say that it seems to be optimized to the pinnacle of perfection. Not once did I encounter a single framerate drop during game time and this includes playing the game on both a 3.06GHz system and a 1.5GHz outfit.

Overall the single player is very immersive. One minor gripe though, while three races seems to be the norm nowadays for real-time strategy games, Relic apparently didn't think so and as such have included only two races. Included in the single-player campaign is a total of 15 missions and while that might not seem like a lot, believe me, when you have to repeat each mission several times through the span of several hours it can become a very tedious process. Multiplayer the game is well done as well and surprisingly while playing with the maximum allowed limit of 6 players per game, I never once encountered a lag-fest. As should be expected in any first tier game a skirmish mode is also included and provides a good outlet for you to learn the game on the fly. Overall, Homeworld 2 would be a flawless sequel if it just wasn't so damn hard to get a solid fundamental understanding on the game mechanics.

Graphics
The graphics in Homeworld 2 were absolutely stunning, my jaw was literally hanging low when I first booted up the game. This has got to be some of the best real-time strategy visuals that I have seen in a long time. The camera angles are superbly done too and at times make you feel like you're taking part in an interactive battle. Going even further, Relic deserves a round of applause for their attention to detail and spectacular special effects. Ship movement is fluid and really does give off the impression that your units are floating in space. The Motherships were a nice addition to the game as well and are very visually pleasing.

Sound
Possibly the games strongest facet would have to be the sound. The lasers shooting, ships exploding, it's all eargasmic! Right down to the smallest effect you feel as if you're taking part in a real intergalactic battle. Voice acting was a tad disappointing though, I didn't really find myself "getting behind" what they were saying. If you really want to experience the full capabilities of this game then I suggest you get the best possible sound system for your computer because headphones just won't do it any justice.

In a Word: Improved.

Word to Publisher: Polished and refined for sure, but not nearly as revolutionary as the original.

Full Reviews:
  • PC.IGN - 9/10
  • GameSpot - 8.7/10
  • GameSpy - 83/100
Final Score: 85%

:: homeworld 2 :: :: homeworld 2 :: :: homeworld 2 ::
:: homeworld 2 :: :: homeworld 2 :: :: homeworld 2 ::

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#1 - dougman - 10/17/03 @ 01:15 AM EST
I find myself playing in the extra far overview map mode, so I don't even see the graphics, just the little icons.

I don't see how anyone can play with such close cameras (as in your screenshots).


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#2 - CrackedButter - 10/17/03 @ 04:23 AM EST

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#3 - -(Hyper)- - 10/17/03 @ 04:58 AM EST
Great game, multiplayer is not the best though. No save game/pause game when playing LAN games, and the online gaming is really laggy. Many sync problems, only one game type (deathmatch), and I would really have liked to be able to change the music track when playing multiplayer. HOWEVER, as far as I understand Relic is working on a patch to fix the sync issues and stuff.

/ I'll be playing this game for a long time that's for sure.
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#4 - EyeLikeP00 - 10/17/03 @ 08:13 AM EST
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i played the demo and wasn't too impressed.. i though hegemonia was a much better 3d space rts.
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#5 - Houdini - 10/17/03 @ 09:55 AM EST
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i cant stand playing games that take substantial time to learn the keys.
i went from mechwarrior to mechwarrior 2.. and then in mach3.. they had tons of extra buttons.. its not fun at that point.

/ i never did get into homeworld.. i was on the first beta test team, and wasnt overly impressed.. i found it not what i thought it was going to be.

i'd give this one a try, but if the learning curve is that steep.. i'll exit out before too long.
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#6 - sweetjimmy - 10/17/03 @ 10:39 AM EST
so the sound was 'earmersive'?
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#7 - -Cerberus- - 10/17/03 @ 11:01 AM EST
#4 - I agree, I played the demo, this game doesn't offer anything 'new'. I'll pass.

#5 - mw3 didn't have anything near the complications regarding controls as homeworld has. Besides, "more buttons" in a game like mechwarrior = more control over your much = more sim-like.
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-Cerberus- - 10/17/03 @ 11:02 AM EST
Why can't I edit?! arrrg
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sweetjimmy - 10/17/03 @ 11:29 AM EST
See bulldog! SEE!! ^^^

:)
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#10 - Bulldog - 10/17/03 @ 11:39 AM EST
Shut up there is no problem

// opens DreamWeaver.
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#11 - EyeLikeP00 - 10/17/03 @ 12:11 PM EST
"// opens DreamWeaver"
maybe thats the problem... :P
be a man and do it in notepad!
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#12 - Bulldog - 10/17/03 @ 02:31 PM EST
Yeah, Notepad owns j00 right?

// rolls eyes now

PS: Fixed the problemo now btw.Last Edited on 10/17/03 @ 02:32 PM EST
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#13 - colinp - 10/17/03 @ 02:51 PM EST
dreamweaver is for lovers.
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#14 - sweetjimmy - 10/17/03 @ 04:06 PM EST
schweet. gracias, dullbog.
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#15 - EyeLikeP00 - 10/17/03 @ 05:33 PM EST
lol.. yeah, it ownz me hard
#16 - System Shock - 10/19/03 @ 07:20 PM EST
This game is irritatingly hard even for firm players of HomeWorld and Cataclysm... how frerfreshing tho they could have made the odd mission a bit fairer.


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