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Homeworld 2 review
Great game, lacking in a few areas, though


Homeworld 2, a worthy successor to the original Homeworld game. Much like the first game, I happily played through this game multiple times, and was always left wanting more.

Homeworld 2 bears many similarities to the first game - Always a plus for those who like to play all the games in a series. The familiarity allows the player to quickly grasp the basics of the game, and get right in to it. The interface has been updated, allowing you to use your build, research, and launch managers while still being able to view your surroundings and keep an eye out for danger. This interface did have some drawbacks which will be mentioned later.

One of the most striking features, for fans of the original, is the updated graphics, and the new ship models. Gone are the boring, chunky models of the Kushan. The new Hiigaran ships look much better, much more detailed, much more interesting. That's not all, however, as the surroundings have also been improved. The 'backdrops' of the maps have been pumped with detail, from the high orbit over Hiigara, to the deep asteroid fields of Gehenna, allowing the player to truly feel like he/she is within the environment that the map is supposed to be in. Damage effects on ships are much more detailed, with improved smoke venting, fires, and hull ruptures. Even the destruction of frigate-sized, and larger ships have more detail in their destruction, with salvageable debris that can be used as resources.

As the original, the music used in this game...it's absolutely spectacular. The developers moved away from the more ambient style that most music had in the first game, and focused more on music that created an atmosphere of mystery, as well as action, and I can't say they could have made any better choices than to use, from what I understand it to be, persian/indian music, to accompany parts of the game that deal with the ancient/progenitor race. I wouldn't have expected any less from the award winning composer of the music in the homeworld series, Paul Ruskay.

...And of course, leaving the best for last, the storyline. Granted, the storyline of the first game was exponentially better than Homeworld 2, but even then, the story was original, well thought, and well executed. One part of the story, right at the end, is the extra mystery around the final discovery, in the ending cutscene. It's well done because it provides closure on the game, yet foreshadows what would come in the next game. The unfortunate part, which is partly what leaves me wanting more, is the sad fact that there is no Homeworld 3 in development (and likely, never will be).

So, good points down, bad points to go...I really don't have any major complaints about this game, but there were a few things that did get on my nerves. First off, the new user interface. It has its pros, but there are a few cons. I think the developers tried to compact things, but in doing so, it actually made things more complicated and annoying to work with. Your build and research options are in a side bar, categorised, so you have to click on each section to select the group of ships you want to build or upgrade. While it compacts the area to maximise visibility of your surroundings, I would have preferred a dedicated screen, much like Homeworld 1, and Cataclysm, because everything is easy to see and manage.

Strike craft were another major annoyance. Homeworld 2 builds strike ships in groups. If you build one interceptor, it actually builds a squadron of 5 interceptors. Likewise for most corvettes. There is no option to build just one actual unit.

Quite possibly the worst part of the game are the formations, or rather, the lack of formations. They have been done away with, and instead, replaced with strike groups. These groups are difficult to work with, and are downright cumbersome. I truly miss the claw and wall formations of the original game, but perhaps most of all, I miss the sphere formation. I cannot set a bunch of ships to guard something by surrounding it in a sphere and covering it from all angles.

One good thing about move orders is the ability to set waypoints, instead of ordering ships to go straight towards something. However, I've noticed that waypoints aren't precise, so I have to be careful in how ships are oriented if i want to make a screen of ships to defend an area. In addition to this, it would have been nice if there was a way to orient a group of ships, which would have been especially useful for gun platforms that can only be moved once. Their effectiveness is reduced, unless I select each platform and move it, one by one.

Finally, the end of a campaign is annoying. Rather than prompting you for hyperspace, as soon as your last primary objective is complete, you immediately move to the next level. All resources on the map are automatically added, so you don't waste time at the end of levels harvesting, but it doesn't give you time to rebuild your fleet, and research things.

Despite all of this, it is still a great game, and I highly recommend it to people.

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