10

Just beautiful, both graphically and emotionally.

Real time strategy fans have their Warcrafts, Starcrafts, and Age of Empires. Those who want "real" strategy while at the same time enjoying an aesthetically grand experience know better. Not only, in my opinion, is Homeworld superior to Warcraft on a technical level, it's also a revolutionary game that happens to be beautiful emotionally as well as graphically.

When the first Homeworld came out, it changed the face of strategy because there was nothing else like it. Even today, most space combat strategy games have a 3D background but take place on a 2D plane. Homeworld is one of those few strategy games to actually have 3D combat, giving it a layer of depth and strategy that most other strategy games could only hope to achieve. Thankfully, Homeworld has a very discreet interface and a great movement and combat system to make waging war on a 3D battlefield a snap. Pressing the movement button sends out a line that you can use to visualize where you can send your ships, while holding down the shift key changes the mouse to give height up or down from the plane. In combat, instead of boxing and clicking like in Warcraft, micromanagement is brought down through the use of formations. This emphasis on formations is on the level of the Total War games, but instead of mandatory formations of the same unit, Homeworld lets you mix and match units and even put in or pull out units on the individual level. The different formations each have different strengths and weaknesses, and you can change your squad's tactics to aggressive, neutral, or defensive. Thankfully, Homeworld also allows you to assign numbers to your fleets to aid you in locating them when you have more than one. And when you're hurting badly, some units you can order to go kamakaze.

The units in Homeworld are numerous and varied, and their designs really help in giving the game its scifi appeal. Both sides are on equal level in terms of units, but each have very different design styles. The fighters are the backbone of your fleets but don't take much damage. The corvettes bring heavy guns to the portability of the fighter package. Then there are the capital ships. The frigates are the poor man's capital ships. Destroyers are the hard hitters. And the heavy cruiser is the Super Star Destroyer of the game--you won't find too many, but when one shows up, there's basically nothing left standing. Capital ships have to be deployed carefully and also add to this game's strategy. Each capital ship has a different range that its guns can rotate in, and their speeds range from turtle to slug. They also rotate slowly, so if you're facing one way and the enemy is coming in from the side, you don't have any time to make your ships turn to meet the threat. Thankfully, later on in the game you can burn resource points to let your capital ships jump into hyperspace. And the most important unit is the mothership. She's 5 scale kilometers tall and with a bunch of damage points but still not invulnerable. Lose her and lose the game.

Graphically, Homeworld is gorgeous. The ships don't have complex textures, so Homeworld is easy on your system. But even still, the ships look great and realistic in a somewhat colorful way. Space is also beautiful, as it's not just all stars and blackness. You'll see colorful nebula in the background. You'll come across asteroid fields. You'll encounter burned out space stations and different races. But what sets this game apart is how beautiful it is on an emotional level. Not only are the battles reminiscent of some of the most epic Star Wars scenes, but the whole game has a great space opera feel. The game tells the tale of a race of people who have lived on a desert planet for as long as they can remember. Then they discover an ancient stone that suggest their true home is a world far away that's much like earth. They rediscover hyperdrives, bringing on the anger of the ancient enemy that first sent their people to the desert planet. The story unfolds through a series of brilliantly drawn comic book style cut scenes and through the evocative voice acting of the admiral and "Fleet Command", a woman who chose to seal herself away as the central brain of the mothership. Top all this off with haunting and rousing music scored by Yes, and you truly start to get an emotional attachment to the plight of the colonists aboard the mothership as the fleet leaves their burning planet and winds its way across the galaxy towards their true home.

To sum it up in as few words as possible: Get this game.

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