Going back to a classic is always tricky territory. More often than not classic games tend to punch you straight in your rose-tinted spectacles, shattering them into a million pieces. If you don’t believe me go and try to play a Nintendo 64, you can actually feel it throwing jabs at your eyeballs. So, it was with some trepidation I approached the Homeworld: Remastered Collection.
Collecting together both Homeworld and its sequel Homeworld 2, the Homeworld Remastered Collection returns to fill a niche which has never quite been filled in the many years since. If you’re not familiar with this seminal pairing of titles they’re top-tier strategy games set within the vastness of space. Chief among Homeworld’s success was in it conquering strategy navigation in a 3D space, a feat still difficult to replicate to this day.
Picked up by Gearbox after floating around in the ether for many a year, the Homeworld: Remastered Collection is a beautifully constructed reworking of bona fide classics. Much of the original games remains intact, and it turns out time was indeed kind to Homeworld, it still plays a mean strategy game. In fact the majority of the changes are tweaks introduced in Homeworld 2, rolled back into the original, much like 4A Games did with Metro 2033 Redux incorporating Last Light elements. This has been supplemented by some gorgeously reworked visuals, which helps you replay the Homeworld you remember, rather than the blurry mess it now is. The infinite blackness of space has never looked so good, filled with blinding supernovas, swirling gas clouds and treacherous asteroids. Not to mention the sightings of unknown planets and distant star systems.
Beneath the visual veneer Homeworld: Remastered Collection is still largely the same game. Sure, there’s been some minor usability tweaks to the interface but, beginning to end, you’re getting a nearly identical experience all them years ago. What an experience that is though.
At the outset of Homeworld, Humanity has been on the receiving end of a major kicking. A ragtag bunch of ships manage to escape the destruction and the search begins for their ancestral home, the titular Homeworld. What this equates to is a pair of lengthy campaigns taking you across the universe, thrown into epic space battles George Lucas would be proud of. There’s a sense of permanence to unfolding events as well. Surviving ships carry over to the next battle and, indeed, lost ones are gone forever.
You’ll be commanding everything from gigantic capital ships crawling across space to nippy swarms of fighters barely noticeable on your screen as they nip between larger ships. There’s a sense of organised chaos to events, and at times just zooming out and witnessing the destruction can be its own joy. Zooming right in you can also enjoy the finer details too, examining the meticulous workings and craftsmanship going into each and every ship.
Compared to much of today’s real-time strategy titles, Homeworld Remastered Collections comes off as a lot slower-paced. In an age of StarCraft 2 and Planetary Annihilation things are a lore more deliberate, ponderous even, but it doesn’t take too long to re-adjust.
When it comes to controlling these interstellar warhorses, Homeworld is a rare treat. Navigation is by no means perfect, but with the original Relic managed to achieve one of the best attempts yet at controlling an army in the depths of space. The free-floating camera can prove disorientating if you let it, but as with anything a few hours to learn the ropes quickly has the game bending to your will. The new zoomed out tactical view also helps immensely. This allows you to group your ships into units and order them about en masse, simplifying things greatly should things begin spiralling out of control. There’s some nice alterations to usability such as the ability to quickly select all units of the same type, while there’s also a degree of UI customisation should you need occasionally need a little more screen space.
Gearbox has achieved a nigh-on perfect remastering of Homeworld with this collection, making minor tweaks without disrupting the balance of what made them such classics in the first place. Screens don’t really do it justice but the pitched space battles truly are a sight to behold, and considering you’re getting two fantastic games for a budget price it’s difficult to resist. The only problem I can see is those who want more beyond the final credits - they unfortunately really don’t make them like this anymore.