Homeworld Remastered Collection is a space-fairing, real-time strategy game that takes you on an epic journey through the galaxy to save your species, not once but twice, as you battle through both of the original series titles.
When Homeworld was originally released it caught every RTS gamer's eye. In part this was due to the ability to zoom in on any ship as you led your fleet through the cosmos, an involving effect that added a dynamism to the strategic action. But while its visuals may have provided an initial draw, it was the combat that really kept players involved thanks to how perfectly it introduced and implemented 3D combat, a system which - it transpires - still holds up perfectly.
Directing your fleet around each vast area feels as slick as ever – no small feat given the complexity of the task. Moving between the close up view and the zoomed out tactical camera, it is easy to select the ships you want to move (either individually or in squadrons) before selecting their destination. To make this even easier, clicking on target objects will lock your craft to them, and send them to mine, salvage, or attack.
This really comes into its own the first time you engage in combat. With limited ships, you only have a handful of fighters to deal with the intruders during this early encounter. Selecting a formation (in my case a defensive wall), and a behavior (defensive) my small attack squad lay in wait. As the enemy ships closed in my fighters began to swarm all around them, but never roaming far from their defensive position. It's easy to set up but undeniably impressive to watch, especially when tracking the movements of a single fighter.
As good as I remember (so, actually, better)
The odd thing about the Homeworld Remastered Collection is that at first I really struggled to see the visual upgrade. It was only by looking back over the original releases (both of which are included in the package) that I could see how much had been done to bring the low resolution textures up to date. My confusion wasn’t helped by the fact that, while this release looks good, it does not feel as spectacular as the original Homeworld did in 1999. The visuals are crisp and detailed, with high resolution textures, improved models, and additional effects - they just lack the wonder I felt back then, even if they are objectively better.
While not awe inspiring, the presentation evokes the game’s mood. This is particularly true of the mother-ship - a massive structure with gentle curves and an almost unfinished look that mirrors your ragtag fleet as it fights for survival on its journey to find a new home planet.
Calm ambient music adds to this tone. It is contemplative, almost somber, matching the game's slow pace of movement.
Despite this calm pace, progressing through each game does see the action slowly hotting up. By the end of each of the two games in this bundle, you have to be rapidly deciding what resources to mine, technology to develop, and ships to build, while keenly micromanaging your units to target specific enemies and (in Homeworld 2) vulnerable ship systems.
Worth revisiting the future
It is hard to think of any fan of single player RTS games that wouldn't want to pick up the Homeworld Remastered Collection. Even players who enjoyed the series the first time around will find this collection of visual upgrades and mechanical tweaks offers more than enough to justify a revisit. The appeal isn't limited to genre fans either, as players who enjoy being steeped in a beautiful sci-fi universe will also find plenty to sink their teeth into.