Homeworld tells possibly the greatest story ever told in any game. Yes we know many would give that honour to something like Bioshock but before rushing to the comments to in a rage fit, hear us out. There are things other than the story arc itself that added to the whole experience with Homeworld.
The Homeworld franchise not only told a beautiful playable story complete with spectacular visuals, artistic cut-scenes and immersive music, it also introduced players for the first time ever to a truly 3D RTS gameplay format. And by 3D, we don't simply mean unit models rendered in 3D, we mean 3D movement. Usually when you play an RTS game you operate in a single plane, in Homeworld even basic movement incorporates the Z axis. Remember in space there is no up or down. This simple concept blew gamer minds everywhere, and for some the difficulty in simply maneuvering units was enough to put them off the game for good. To those souls we say it’s not too late. Grab yourself a copy (yes even pirate it if you must, but be sure to pay for a copy if a new game ever comes out) and experience one of the best games ever made by mankind.
Almost any screen shot looks like a wallpaper
- So just what it is that makes Homeworld so spectacularly awesome?
Well let’s start with the story shall we? Imagine an impoverished war-ravaged planet (Kharak) on the far outskirts of a distant galaxy. There are clans embroiled in bitter wars on the planet for centuries. Out of nowhere a satellite discovers a huge spaceship buried under one of the planet’s deserts. On the ship, the people of Kharak (the Kushan as they were called) discover coordinates to a planet in the center of the Galaxy marked by a word so ancient that in all the dialects and languages of the Kushan it meant only one thing – Hiigara “our home”. Galvanised by this discovery the people of Kharak come together to unearth the mysteries of their existence. Over the next century the Kushan build a vast mothership that can carry 600,000 of them in cryostasis to their home planet Hiigara. They even develop a hyperdrive that lets them jump their mothership through hyperspace. On a test voyage they get attacked by a rogue race known as the raiders who they defeat but on their return to Kharak they find the planet in ashes. It turn out that the current ruler of Hiigara had exiled the Kushan to Kharak and in turn orders the raiders to destroy their planet as a punishment for their audacity. Thus begins your voyage of revenge to Hiigara. Along the way you meet superior alien races, defectors and many plot twists. Ah the memories the nostalgia almost makes us all weepy eyed.
- Homeworld lets you experience all elements you find in a strategy game
The first game in the series was Homeworld (Homeworld 1 as it’s now known) and did much of the work in laying out the storyline. The game came out way back in 1999 and for that time the graphics were unbelievable. In 2000 came Homeworld: Cataclysm which started off in the development stage as an expansion but was released as a standalone game. The game begins 15 years after the events of Homeworld 1 and puts you in the role of a lowly mining vessel that encounters an ancient virus-like entity called The Beast.
Graphics and Ship models were brilliant for that time
Years later in 2003 came the final piece of the franchise till date, Homeworld 2. While Homeworld 2 took the game to a whole new level in terms of graphics and gameplay, it didn’t move audiences so much with the storyline. You were now defending your newly reclaimed homeworld from the Vaygr but with the added mystery of a superior race called the Progenitors.
- What’s the fate of the franchise today?
The franchise truly transcends the realm of gaming and without a doubt cements itself as a Sci-Fi masterpiece and a piece of digital art. From Relic and Sierra the rights to the franchise passed on to THQ. Many of you would know the fate THQ suffered recently. Yes we know you vultures jumped on the Humble THQ Bundle. But another result of the bankruptcy was that the Homeworld IP was put on auction. Promptly a Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise enough money to be able to bid for the IP and continue development but it managed to gather just $60,000. This was not nearly enough and reportedly the IP was eventually sold for $1.3 million. So who bought it? None other than Gearbox (of Borderlands fame). After the acquisition of the rights last April, the Dallas based game development outfit promised “to preserve and assemble the purest form of the original acclaimed and beloved games, Homeworld and Homeworld 2, with the intent of making them accessible on today's leading digital platforms." Their first priority was to get the original games running on today’s PCs. While Gearbox hasn’t confirmed that a sequel is underway, there is a very active discussion on the Gearbox developer forum (http://dgit.in/homwrld) where the gamemakers are soliciting suggestions from fans about the direction forward.
Here’s hoping an entire new generation of gamers get to revisit this now classic by playing the next installment in the series. Hopefully a sequel to Cataclysm.