E3 2002: Haegemonia impressions

We checked out DreamCatcher's new space real-time strategy title. See what we thought here.

DreamCatcher is showing an advanced build of its new space real-time strategy game Haegemonia here at E3 today, and we got to see a brief demo of the game. Haegemonia is most directly reminiscent of Homeworld in that it depicts large-scale construction and battles in space in a fully 3D environment. Although Homeworld purported to use a 3D game area, its combat was largely carried out in only two dimensions, and DreamCatcher thinks that it's improving on this area with Haegemonia by encouraging full three-dimensional freedom.

Haegemonia's story has Earth colonizing Mars in the near future. As is often the wont of downtrodden Martian colonists, they get sick of Earth's domineering ways and revolt against them. As this conflict is occurring, a previously unknown alien race, the kariaks, swoops in to take advantage of the situation, and so the squabbling forces of Earth and Mars have to unite to fight off the aliens. This will surely provide for some interesting tension in the storyline--indeed, Dreamcatcher describes the game's story as "space opera-like."

The gameplay in Haegemonia looks like it will be pretty familiar to RTS fans. Only one resource is required, as miners obtain ore, which is converted directly into money. The game proceeds about like you'd expect: You'll build ships, research new technology, amass an armada, and fight big space battles. But while Haegemonia may be standard fare, it's definitely complex fare--the game boasts a branching tech tree with a staggering 200 different levels of research. There are so many possibilities when steering the technological advancement of your fleet, the developer says, that if you go down one particular path, there are units along other paths that you'll never even see during the game. That sounds like it will make for quite a bit of replay value. In addition, the game has Warcraft III-style heroes that you can develop and then carry over from mission to mission for extra combat advantage and story development.

We didn't get to play the build of Haegemonia on display, but we saw a real-time demo of a rather large battle that looked quite impressive. The level-of-detail system that's been implemented made for a complicated skirmish that also ran at a decent frame rate throughout all kinds of camera manipulations, so hopefully the game will run nicely on a wide variety of systems. Haegemonia is slated to hit shelves in the fall of this year, so keep an eye peeled for more on it soon.

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