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In the beginning, there were 2D battlefields and 3D top-down wars and the masses rejoiced. Then Relic created the 3D Homeworld and gamers were in awe. Let the war in true 3D begin!
By - John "warrior" Keefer III (10/22/99)

Real-Time Strategy games have been a hot commodity, with developers trying to ride the successes of such hits as Warcraft II, Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation. A few succeed, but most are relegated to clone status and end up in a CD box under the current game du jour. Homeworld and its developer, Relic hoped to break that cycle and the initial hype looked promising. The playable demo caused quite a buzz with the true 3D movement and combat and it left everyone wanting more. As the release date approached, the big question was: Will this game take RTSs to the next level? Will developers start patterning their games after Homeworld and make Homeworld clones? I can tell you that after playtesting the full release of the game, the answers to both questions are a resounding YES! The visuals are astounding and the gameplay remarkable. Welcome to the next stage in Real-Time Strategy.

The Story

The Kushan meet the Bentusi traders for the first time. The Bentusi offer technology in exchange for resources.
On your planet of Kharak, one of your satellites has pinpointed a large object in the great desert and a research team comes upon a huge spaceship. Discovered inside is the Guide Stone, an interstellar map with words that translate in your language to "our home." This knowledge brings cultures and nations together with the sole purpose of using this galactic map to find your home world. Development commences on creating a mothership that will take you on your journey. After 100 years, the research and development culminates in the launching of this great ship into the vastness of space. You are going home. You do not realize at the time that your interstellar maiden voyage will lead to the destruction of Kharak.

Armed with this knowledge, you begin a journey unlike any other in gaming. The ceremonial launching of the mothership is greeted with wonderfully ominous music and a voiceover play-by-play by your constant companion, the mothership computer. With the planet Kharak in the background, the mothership is launched and you begin your trials that will get you through 16 missions, and home.

A satellite has discovered a huge spaceship buried in the great desert of Kharak. What is found inside changes the planet's destiny. Nice sketchy black-and-white drawings are a nice contrast to the brilliantly colored 3D ships.
As the story unfolds, you are greeted by sketchy black-and-white animated drawings that play out the narration. As the story gets to the time of the mothership launch, the screen dissolves into a burst of 3D color so rich, you'll be reaching for oxygen thinking you have just been deposited into space. You get time to enjoy the visual effect as the computer voice (reminiscent of the soft female-voiced supercomputer in Star Trek series) takes you through launch procedures from the huge docking platform. Enjoy the cinema now because if you take too much time to enjoy the scenery as the game progresses, you won't be alive long enough to enjoy more. What makes this all the more inspiring is the true 3D environment. Using your mouse buttons to modify camera angles, you can choose your point of focus and zoom out and zoom in, look from above or below. There are hundreds of angles and views to choose from, each beneficial when the game gets rolling. One of the more difficult aspects of the game in the early going is to use the sensors to get the feel of moving in 3D. You can rotate the sensors to study where you want to go, then use the mouse and the Shift key to determine distance and elevation. It takes a little while to get used to (I thought I had it mastered only to find I sent a huge convoy in the opposite direction of a huge battle that was brewing), but you do eventually get the hang of it. A minor point about movement: No waypoints can be set up. You must watch your groups as they finish their movements to set the next leg of their journey.

The Taiidan mothership must rely on the armada to help it wade through this asteroid field.
Another great aspect of the 3D modeling is the ship design. There are 54 different ship types in the game and each has it's own unique look. From the Multi-gun Corvette with its pulsing cannons, to the imposing launch bays of a carrier, each visual will make you want to focus and zoom in. When you do, you will see cannons rotate and fire (with the sound getting louder as you close in), ion trails behind your ships as they travel and the reclamation beams used by your resource collectors to reclaim asteroids (resource units that are used to build ships). Truly groundbreaking work when you stop to think that each ship can be viewed from any angle you please.


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