Homeworld: Remastered Collection ReviewPrice:
Gearbox Software/Relic Entertainment
A little context before we begin, and something of a confession. I'm not the biggest fan of Homeworld. In fact, when I first played it back in 1999, I bounced off it like a spaceship skipping off a planet's atmosphere. I could see it was a well made game, but I couldn't fathom why it was well made, and I equally struggled to understand why I wasn't particularly enjoying it.
So when I noticed the impending release of the Remastered Collection, I considered leaving it in favour of something else. After all, these days there are dozens of games released every month, each clamouring for a critic's attention. However, I was curious to see if I still felt the same way sixteen years on, so I decided to give it a second chance.
As it turns out, I still don't love Homeworld. But I have figured out both what I appreciate about it and why overall the game leaves me feeling cold.
Before we discuss my personal feelings about Homeworld, we should consider the
Remastered Collection as a whole, and how it improves Relic's critically acclaimed RTS and its sequel. The Remastered Collection includes both Homeworld games, each of which has received a significant graphical overhaul, alongside copies of the original games optimised to run on modern PCs. I'm not sure why you'd play those other than for comparison's sake, but it's nice that they're included.
Already this is a substantial chunk of game for your cash, although depending on the quality of the Remaster it could be money for old space-rope. Fortunately this isn't the case. As remasters go, Gearbox's effort is up there with Abe's Oddysee in terms of the work put in and the difference in final quality. Gearbox don't go quite so far as Just Add Water did with Abe. They haven't rebuilt the game in a whole new engine, for example. Nevertheless the overhaul is extensive enough so that Homeworld Remastered looks like a modern release.
More specifically, Homeworld Remastered's available resolutions and new textures accommodate all the way up to glorious 4K, while the added lighting and post-process effects lend a softer, sharper edge to the game's planets and spaceships. The fragile hulls of your fighters, corvettes and frigates now gleam in the light of distant stars, while the hulking crescent of your Mothership always looms in the background, glittering with thousands of tiny lights.
What struck me most about the Remastered edition is how these updates bring out the colour and shape of the great intergalactic void. It's strange seeing so much graphical oomph directed toward a game that often depicts very little on the screen. Intriguingly, this only serves to enhance the sense of isolation and brooding atmosphere of the infinite vacuum. Yet while space in Homeworld is many things; eerie, empty, and vast, rarely is it dark. Homeworld Remastered is awash with crisp, bright hues. As the story progresses, the pleasantly purple skies surrounding your home planet give way to ocean-blue battlefields and fiery red nebulas. It's like travelling through sixteen majestic impressionist paintings.