Homeworld

a game by Relic
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 9/10, based on 1 review, 6 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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Those moments when, just for an instant, you're suddenly hopelessly lost in the totality of the gaming experience. You forget everything that's going on around you and become completely swept up in the moment. Homeworld is full of them.

Those Moments In Full

For Instance: a battle between several dozen fighters is going badly for me. I'm on the run, using evasive manoeuvres to try to stay alive, but I have totally underestimated my opponent's firepower. All is lost. But then, emerging out of the distance, I spot a couple of my heavy assault craft, slowly entering the field of battle like the proverbial cavalry. A complete feeling of relief sweeps over my whole body at the mere sight of them. I'm totally lost in the moment.

I've just built my first two ion cannon frigates and have sent them into a pitched battle against several enemy fighters, supported by a large assault vessel. I tell them to attack while the fighter escort takes care of the smaller ships and can almost hear the weapon systems powering up.

A searing bolt of blue light screams from one of the frigates and slices into the assault ship. I can practically feel the impact.

I'm grinning from ear to ear like an insane child. I'm totally lost in the moment. A large battle is, for a change, going pretty well. I've already got the upper hand and suddenly my freshly built reinforcements arrive on the scene. This is too much for the enemy ships and they actually turn and run. The sight of them bugging out is enough to make me feel totally euphoric and I actually give a cheer. I'm totally lost in the moment. Incidentally, out of curiosity I send a scout to follow them. It turns out they've fled towards a couple of support frigates just out of my sensor range to repair, refuel and rearm. I honestly think it's the first time I've seen a computer AI actually work to preserve its forces in a strategy game. Very impressive.

Another battle has gone badly and there's just one of my fast-attack fighters left. I have no reinforcements anywhere near him and the enemy is just too great in numbers to escape. I switch the tactics to 'evasive' and watch helplessly as he begins to duck and weave erratically, trying to fend off the inevitable for as long as possible. He's really putting up a brave fight, giving it his all, but finally succumbs and bites the dust. I feel genuinely sad and just a little bit proud of his noble effort. I'm totally lost in the moment.

I Bet The Wuss Cried

There are plenty of other moments like this and I'm sure you'll have your own stories to tell when you play the game. And play it you should, because if you haven't already figured it out (or glanced at the score), Homework! is a superb game.

It's hard to pin down to one particular category. Part resource management, part space combat sim, part wargame, Homeworld is one of those games that wasn't born with a genre in mind on the desk of a management executive with degrees in Market Trend Spotting and Bandwagon Jumping. This started with a single vision and grew from there, encompassing whatever gaming genres it happened to pass on the way.

The storyline is straightforward enough and actually provides the gameplay with its shape. An ancient race has discovered a map buried in a ruin beneath a desert that points the way to their species' original home planet. An expedition is mounted, a new class of giant spacecraft is constructed and undergoes a series of hyperspace trial runs. However, while the ship is away from the planet, a hostile force invades and destroys everything. You have no choice left but to seek out this fabled 'homeworld' and rebuild your civilisation, all the while pursued by the mysterious hostile force.

By Your Command

The real beauty is that Relic have not only managed to portray all this in stunning visual quality but have also made a user interface that allows you the freedom to play out any military tactic you can think of, issue just about any type of command you want, yet remain practically invisible on the screen and be instinctive enough to grasp it within about ten minutes of play. It's a stunning achievement. No menus to sort through, just a game to play (well there is one menu, but all the commands have simple hotkeys).

Your task throughout is as straightforward as the story. Use your mothership to manufacture units, mine asteroid fields and dust clouds for vital resource materials, build up a steadily advancing fleet while researching new technologies and fulfilling the objectives of each particular mission. And fight the enemy. A lot.

This, above all else, is where Homework! proves itself in the world of strategy combat games. With most titles that fall into this vaguely defined category, there's usually a 'golden route'. Take Birth Of The Federation, for instance. As soon as you'd figured out the best way to develop each new colony and built a big enough fleet, the whole game became a process of repeating the same formula over and over until you won. You tend to find that most strategy games, once you've figured out the optimum path to take, become little more than exercises in repetition.

But Homeworld has somehow managed to free itself - and the genre - from this scenario. The balance of unit types available, combined with the way they interact, the alarmingly impressive tactical mind of the computer AI and the openness of the whole game means there is never a golden route that ensures victory. You find yourself formulating military strategies as you take a break to go for a slash. It feels like being in command of any giant space battle you've ever seen in a film or sci-fi television show. Homeworld is about letting you work out how to be victorious in battle, not about how to 'solve' a computer game. And when a plan works, oh man, it feels good.

Nit-Picking Corner

Are there faults? A couple, although they're not so much faults as areas that could have worked better. The most notable is the inability to issue orders while the game is paused. There are times when things are so hectic that you need to pause it, take stock of the situation and be able to issue the odd command or two. It's a personal thing but it would have been a nice option.

The main disappointment is the research section. Although it does an adequate job, there's nothing really innovative about it and it's little more than a way to ration out the introduction of each new unit type. This is a shame, because every other part of the game shows so much originality of thought and innovative design that this just seems kind of tacked on - only there because it's expected.

Midnight On The Firing Line

But this is all petty stuff. Homenorld does such a good job of sucking you in, making you feel at home and letting you enjoy the actual game that any criticisms are so minor as to not matter. What it does, it does superbly. The storyline is so well integrated into the game that you'll keep coming back, and for once the multiplayer 'deathmatch' mode is more than just a gratuitous option. Once again, the freedom allowed to the player means every battle feels fresh and the enemy's AI constantly surprises you with new twists.

Homeworlcfs biggest asset is, as I said at the start, its ability to lose you completely in its universe and make you relish each memorable gaming moment. Isn't that what you really want from your games these days?

Lost On The Way

Homeworld was originally due out in March. What the hell kept it?

Sometimes, as a journalist, your instincts kick in when you see an early project. A hunch tells you when something Is going to be big. That was how I felt when I was first shown the game In September 1998. The odd thing Is that what I remember of the game back then doesn't look a hell of a lot different to what I'm playing now.

Last December, I was sitting in Relic's Vancouver offices, enjoying an after-hours game of multiplayer Half-Life, and musing on how the game I'd spent the day being shown around still looked fabulous and still played superbly, but didn't actually appear to be any different. I'm sure they must have been working on something in all that time. Probably the Al. Developers are always 'working on the Al'. I dropped the matter and went back to being killed by Relic's lead artist.

Now we're In October (or at least we will be by the time you read this) and still nothing, on the face of things, seems to be any different. Even more intrigulngly, the game has been held back several times - not just from its initial release date of March 1999, but also about three times in the past two months. So what is going on?

The official answer, which is probably truthful enough, is that it's been undergoing constant bug-testing and game balancing. The same thing happened to Blizzard's StarCratt, after all. Certainly a game with such an open-ended, non-linear and highly strategic nature would require extensive testing before it goes 'gold' (as we say in the games business). Plus - take It from personal experience - Relic's Alex Garden is a real perfectionist.

Son, I'm Gonna Make You A Star... And A Gas Cloud

Homeworld comes with its own mission editor, but then doesn't everything?

Admittedly, with a game set in the vast emptiness of space, you don't immediately think there'll be very much use for a mission editor. But there's a deceptive amount of variety available to you in the MissionMan program that comes with the full game. This is mainly down to the game's open-ended strategy aspect. Unlike the level editors of Unreal, Half-Life and the rest, where you're essentially creating mazes with set obstacles to overcome, here you're concerned with the distribution of starting units, the amount, size and locations of resources and how different players will make use of them. It's actually bordering on hardcore wargame territory, but since it looks so nice we'll let that pass. The only downside to MissionMan is that it looks so hideously complex to use and comes with such a spartan manual that you tend to approach it with extreme caution.

ADAGIO FOR LIGHTSHOWS

The musical side of Homeworldior once deserves as much attention as the graphics, but not necessarily for the right reasons

The story of lead designer Alex Garden's 'flash of inspiration' on hearing Samuel Barter's Adagio For Strings one morning has been well documented and it's a testament to his integrity that the stirring classical piece has remained in the game, not to be replaced by some thumping techno drum-hop trance beats for the 'now' generation.

Ironically, this dogged persistence might be the reason the music doesn't quite gel in the final game. It's not Mr Barber's fault. Adagio remains as stirring and hauntingly beautiful as ever, even more so when combined with the epic nature of the game's cinematic opening scenes. What jars is actually the rest of the music. Because we open with such a classical piece of audio perfection, the rest of the custom-made music can't help but fall behind. What's worse Is that the style changes. Instead of remaining with the classical flavour, we are instead assaulted with a sort of sub-Jean Michel Jarre repertoire, circa his 'industrial Arabic' period. In short, it gets old, quick.

But an even more bizarre musical tale revolves around - wait for it - Seventies lightshow pioneers Yes. It seems the boys from Relic and the ageing beardos came together and Homeworltfs themes and style so inspired lead vocalist Jon Anderson that he wrote a song based on it. To quote the man himself: "The game is very similar to thoughts that are common to human beings. We're all trying to find our way home."

The song is to be included on their new album The Ladder -out now, pop-pickers. Personally, we've not rated Yes since the seminal (and cruelly misunderstood) Arriving UFO came out in 1972. You know, sometimes you miss the level-headed sensibilities of Rick Wakeman. And I never thought I'd see myself typing those words.

Download Homeworld

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Strategy Guide

Commanding a space fleet isn't the easiest of tasks. Specially if it's in full 'oh it makes my brain hurt' 3D. Now all you have to do is read our area by area guide. And take a couple of paracetamol.

Wasteland

The first thing to do is to start harvesting resources before you even think of sending out probes. Build your fleet up and prepare for battle, making sure to set the formations. When the enemy arrives, it will start attacking your resource collectors, so get them out of the way. Attack the fighters with corvettes and use fighters to do battle with the frigates.

Have your salvage corvettes ready to get hold of fallen enemy vessels, especially the lone frigates before the second wave begins. As soon as it arrives, hide the SVs in the dust clouds or they'll get blown to smithereens. While you're there, grab the enemy's collectors.

Diamond Shoals

Take as many asteroids out as you can with the smaller attack ships (frigates are more likely to crash into them). Put the repair ships behind the Mothership and set them to repair it as it sustains damage. You'll receive reports of the lack of resources in the area, but set your harvesters to collect anyway. How you use the camera is very important here, you need to be able to see the asteroids as they come rushing shrubbery, flower beds and insects here. It is bloody space, you know. Get ready for the enemy's oncoming fleet which arrives as soon as you get your resource collecting in motion. Take the fuel pods so the small enemy fighters can't refuel. When they run out they'll be left stranded and you can wipe towards your ships. The best ships to build at this time are corvettes and strike craft, so don't go wasting on destroyers.

Gardens Of Kadesh

Despite its name, there is very little in the way of shrubbery, flower beds and insects here. It is bloody space, you know. Get ready for the enemy's oncoming fleet which arrives as soon as you get your resource collecting in motion. Take the fuel pods so the small enemy fighters can't refuel. When they run out they'll be left stranded and you can wipe them all out with corvettes. Use your own fighters on the larger vessels. Don't use the hyperdrive as soon as it becomes available, there's plenty of resource gathering to be done here. While your harvesters are out collecting, keep building up your fleet in preparation for the next scenario.

Sea Of Lost Souls

Send defenders, corvettes and interceptors to investigate the ghost ship. If you use capital ships they'll be sent against you, while attack bombers won't stand a chance against the missile destroyers. Concentrate on the main ghost ship and milk the surroundings for resources. Although, considering this is a sea, maybe you should fish for resources. Oh, forget it.

Super Nova Station

Get your resources from two regions in the veins of the space dust that are safe, otherwise the radiation in this level will destroy your collectors. Find your way to the enemy ships through the space dust veins and keep some capital ships up front to absorb damage from the mines. If you have a carrier, fill it with repair corvettes. You can undock them every time you need to fix damaged ships. Interceptors and scouts will be destroyed by the radiation, so leave them behind. For once, Fleet Command doesn't have its head up its own arse and gives you valuable information.

Go along the path they give you to the station and you won't alert the enemy fleet. Nothing will happen until you bring your ships within range of the station, when you'll have to stop an enemy carrier from leaving. Use a probe to induce the carrier's attempt at escape instead of your own ships, that way you'll avoid getting caught in the radiation. Move to the safe area and destroy the rest of the enemy fleet from there. Then mine the level for resources before moving on.

Tenhauser Gate

The Bentusi need your help, but that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice yourself. The enemy fleet is made up almost entirely of capital ships, so use strike craft and try to capture a couple with salvage corvettes. As usual, plunder the area for resources. It's a good idea to keep your fleet inside the carriers and Mothership in preparation for the next level and you should also build some proximity sensors.

Galactic Core

Get after those gravity wells straight away and be careful to defend your frigates and capital ships from them. Once you've got rid of them and the first wave of attackers, launch your strikers and position some proximity sensors next to your capital ships. The sensors will allow you to detect and attack enemy cloaked units, a trick they are increasingly likely to pull. You can leave the rebel destroyer Kapella to its own devices until it reaches your Mothership. Once there kill off all its pursuers.

The Karos Graveyard

Send your strike craft below the main section of dust and space and position them directly under the rebel ship. By hitting the autoguns surrounding this ship you can finish the level off pretty quickly. There is another way of completing the level, which nets you a large quantity of RUs but takes an age. This consists of taking your ships through the space veins to clear out the autoguns. On the plus side, you can collect lots of resources. On the minus, junkyard salvagers will keep stealing your ships and you'll spend a long time getting them back. The choice is yours. Just make sure you have enough RUs to build cloaked fighters, cloak generators and salvage corvettes for the next level.

Bridge Of Sighs

Nicking is the business, and business is good. Your main priority on this level is to capture as many enemy ships as possible. To this end, use a cloaked fighter to lure away some of the ships surrounding the station and cloaked salvage corvettes to capture the elite frigates. Get as many as you can using this tactic and get ready for an assault on the space station. This time, cloak your capital ships and frigates, which will allow you to get into the very centre of the station where you can cause some serious damage. Once the station has been destroyed, get out of this region before more waves come your way.

Chapel Perilous

You need to destroy the oncoming asteroid before it hits the Mothership. Use frigates and capital ships as they're the most powerful. Keep them moving around the asteroid as you blast it repeatedly. Once it goes out of range, go for the enemy ships. Set up a line of mines in front of the Mothership to protect it using the minelayer corvettes. You'll have to protect the minelayers from enemy ships as they go about their slow and arduous task. Escort them with cloaked fighters and interceptors while laying into the asteroid with attack bombers.

After you've hyperspaced, you're in for a real mother of a battle, but remember you're just one step away from home.

Hiigara

B You wouldn't expect B the last level to be B easy, would you? And B it isn't. Don't waste y any time before laying some explosive space turds with your minelayer uuivettes in front of your fleet and behind the Mothership in preparation for the first wave. The enemies will come from above and behind, so place the mines in that area. When the opposition arrives, throw everything you've got at them. You don't want even one ship floating around idle.

This is war, man. Send resource collectors to the safe dust cloud and get ready for the next wave. You should have repair vessels on hand to fix the Mothership as she starts to fall apart. When you see what's coming, you may fall apart yourself. As soon as the rebels arrive, assign them to groups and get cracking on those enemy ships. Once that's over with, you'll spot the enemy Mothership in the distance, and she ain't feeling maternal. Get as many resources as you can and build up your fleet before going in all guns blazing. Take out the proximity drones with cloaked fighters. Put all your strike craft on the carriers and send them through the gap you've just created to destroy the Mothership. Then sit back, relax and quietly celebrate this galactic matricide. You've finally made it home.

Single-Player Tips

Develop your strategies with these handy hints

Tips:

  • Don't always follow Fleet Command orders, and think carefully before you do anything they say. Sometimes they'll push you straight into unnecessary trouble or make you miss important events. For example, in mission six you're told to clear an asteroid field using capital ships which have very low manoeuvrability and usually end up crashing. Smaller ships are preferable. In the second mission, don't send the probe as instructed, or you'll end up being attacked.
  • Build at least one Resource Controller for every two collectors and use them to protect the collectors when you send them out to harvest. As with researching, start collecting resources as soon as you can.
  • Don't waste resources building extra research ships, one ship is sufficient Having more will speed up the process slightly, but not enough to justify an expenditure that could have been used for greater effect elsewhere.
  • When plotting your research tree, pick paths that force the enemy to use counter measures to defend themselves.
  • One of the best and cheapest ways to build up your fleet Is to use salvage corvettes. Use them to capture enemy ships whenever you can, but be prepared to defend them as they have no capabilities to do so themselves.
  • Defender ships are not only good for the obvious, they can also be used for attack. Set their tactics to aggressive and put them in large groups.
  • When entering enemy territory, go for the harvester ships first. They're usually out of the protection belt and it will take some time for battleships to arrive. By which time you could have decimated their resources and weakened them.
  • Gravity well generators can have a massive impact on the game if used properly. They can freeze any ship that is fuel-powered, making them easy targets for frigates and other capital ships. To make them even more effective, group gravity well generators with cloak generators, making them invisible to the enemy.
  • Check often for new technologies. You never know when something really useful might become available.
  • Whenever you think more information on your opponent might give you an advantage, send out probes. Earty missions prompt you to send them, but it's up to you to do it later on. Remember that they get left behind after each mission though, so don't use them unnecessarily.
  • Use strike ships against frigates, frigates against corvette-class ships and corvettes against strike ships.
  • Use wall formations for large ships and claw and X formations for strike craft
  • Always keep an eye out for fuel levels on strike ships. If fuel runs out in the heat of a long battle, your ships will be extremely vulnerable.
  • You won't get anywhere unless you employ support and repair frigates to fix damaged ships.

Multiplayer Tips

Many of the single-player strategies will prove useful when battling it out against other players

Tips:

  • Keep large fleets cloaked by cloak generators around your Mothership. The Mothership will still be visible and enemies will be lured in, thinking they've got an easy kill on their hands. As soon as they get in close, uncloak your fleet and give them the scare of their lives.
  • Strike craft have two major advantages over Capital ships: speed and manoeuvrability. Keep your formations manageable to take advantage of this. Large formations take longer to manoeuvre.
  • The combination of a gravity well generator and a missile destroyer makes an excellent defence against enemy strikecraft Immobilise your targets and pick them off like the sitting ducks they are.
  • In games with Hyperspace on, start building a gravity well generator but pause it when there's about one RU left before it's completed. Your enemies, if they're smart enough, will send a probe to check whether you have a gravity well generator before entering Hyperspace, but they'll be fooled into thinking it's safe to attack. Once they start to arrive, complete the generators and give them a nasty surprise
  • Sometimes it's a good idea to build a large strike force straight away and wipe out a nearby enemy before they have a chance to react Get rid of their harvesters and research vessels early into the game and they'll be at a serious disadvantage. Be careful you don't leave the way wide open for a third party though.
  • Use your scouts as a smart bomb. Get them to attack a target, then scuttle them just as they reach it This is most effective against other scouts. If you do it right you can take out two enemy scouts for every one of yours.
  • It's also a good idea to scuttle your probes when you find an enemy carrier.
  • If you're building frigates from a carrier, they won't actually appear until you stop. You can use this to your advantage by making a whole fleet of frigates wait inside your carrier and stopping it when you're about to be attacked.

What we thought

"The real beauty is that Relic have not only managed to portray everything In stunning visual quality, but have also made a user interface that allows you the freedom to play out any military tactic you can think of."

What you think

People say:

  • "This is one of the best RTS games ever! However, there is a downside: it's also one of the most bugged. For example, I can't build any capitol ships when playing as Kushan. I know for a fact that other people have had similar (and different) problems. So, if your version is bug-free -you're very lucky." Jon Herman, The Netherlands.
  • "Homeworld is potentially a great game, but what your review failed to comment on is that for a great many of us it has technical problems. Is Sierra going to sort this out? If Quake II can run okay with no problems in 3dfx OpenGL on my system, why can't Homeworlrn For such a high profile game it's a big let down."
  • "Homework!is a work of genius; real-time strategy at its very best. The graphics and sound are perfect and the gameplay is engrossing and balanced. The only disappointment is that single player campaigns are too short."
  • "This game is hard. While even the most grizzled RTS veteran is still fiddling with his fighters, the computer is merrily co-ordinating huge strikes at various points all over the map. I found myself redoing levels in order to keep my numbers up and not face the next onslaught with a meagre, rather pathetic fleet. Unless I've missed it a difficulty setting option would have been most handy."
  • "I'm gob smacked by the incredible detail and atmosphere, and more so at the speed (I was expecting slow down when lots of units were involved in a fight like TA Kingdoms tor example). It also boasts the best tutorial that I have ever seen, as within the first 15 minutes all my questions had been answered. "Homeworld fully deserves the 94% you gave it and maybe more as it introduces a new perspective and depth to the realtime strategy game."

It's no secret that we were completely blown away by Relic Entertainment's refreshingly original take on the real-time strategy genre last year. So when the announcement was made that a semi-sequel was to be developed by a different programming team, you would have forgiven us for being slightly apprehensive. Would these new boys be able to remain true to Relic's original vision? Would this be another case of Sierra's corporate franchise winning over Relic's dedication to innovative gameplay? Or might it just be able to pull it off?

It helps that Barking Dog has, for the most part, been in the same office as Relic and has been able to maintain direct contact with the original team since the outset. Also the company has roped in Marcus Skyler, the chap behind most of the original's storyline, to construct the single-player campaign tale, ensuring a degree of continuity.

Cataclysm takes place some 15 years after Homeworld ended. The Kushans are now firmly ensconced in their new home, lording it up like they owned the place (They did - Ed) and pushing trouble-making factions about. Your particular group of undesirables, the Somtaaw (the names are no better this time round), have been banished to the outer reaches of space to serve as miners and traders, salvaging whatever equipment they can find along the way. Hence the modular nature of your new mothership. Do you assign space to research units, or keep hold of the ore canisters in order to build and trade? These decisions are forced upon you pretty quickly as you encounter a new enemy called the Beast. Basically a techno-organic viral entit Beast infects other races' ships and assimilate... er, reverse-engineers the technology for its own purposes. Unless you can stop it, the Bor... er, Beast will make its way to the Kushan homeworld and wipe out life as you know it. Resistance is futi... er, you get the idea.

It seems as though Barking Dog has had a field day with the Homeworld engine, diving in feet first and tinkering with everything that needed improving, while adding plenty of the team's own ideas along the way. Minor enhancements, such as waypoint navigation, refinements to the control interface and different types of resources to collect are complemented by major new features. These include the modular mothership, multi-functioning, upgradeable units, and a host of new weapons and technologies, such as EMP bursts, afterburners and siege cannons. Another nice touch is the way some units can combine with each other to enhance their attacks.

It remains to be seen whether Barking Dog will do enough to the game to warrant both its stand-alone nature and Relic's decision to allow a third-party to am with the project rather than doing it itself. When Homeworld first appeared it brought with it a freshness, energy and spirit that was intrinsic to Relic. Will Cataclysm be able to recapture these elements or will it feel like a shameless cash-in? Certainly there are some nice ideas being touted, but we'll just have to wait and see whether they're enough.

Tiberian Sun. KKND 2. Wargames. Dune 2000. War Of The Worlds. MechCommander. Total Annihilation II. Dominion. MAX. II. Spot the difference. Truth is, there isn't much. Beyond graphics and presentation and the odd AI routine, none of the above are going to be very different. The developers won't admit it, and the press will hype each title as the "best thing ever" every month until they've all been released. But you and I know that, deep down, they're all the same. And so does Alex Garden of Relic Entertainment.

"There were 680 computer game titles released last year," he states. "How many did you buy? It's like, how many times do I have to go and get burned before I'll stop? Well, f**k that. From now on you're going to be seeing some serious shit." Relic put innovation and freshness above everything else. And looking at Homeworld, their first ever game, it shows. Take the strategy genre, then say: "Sod the CSC model, we're doing our own thing," and you've got the spirit that lies behind Homeworld.

It's a true 3D strategy game, set in the depths of space and revolving around an ancient race that have just found out who their true ancestors were. Gathering together a rag-tag fleet, they set off across the galaxies to find their home, pursued by an evil alien race intent on wiping them out. Yeah, you're probably thinking BattlestarGalactica. Correct. Award yourself a clever point.

"About two years ago I was having a conversation with some friends about how much we loved Bafflestar Galactica and wouldn't it be great if it was back on TV," explains Garden. "We were also talking about how much we loved X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, but bow all you could do was pull back, pull left, and so on. So I started thinking to myself, 'Wouldn't it be great if you could have a 3D game that looked like you were watching Star Wars but had a storyline like Battlestar Galactica.' And the game just came to me. Like a flash."

Look at Homeworld in action and it shines like a beacon of original thought in a genre devoid of any real innovation. "The working title for the game was Spaghetti Ball," says Garden, "because in my head I saw this strange ball of fighters flying around, with trails flying out behind them, and a big sphere surrounding them which you could move around."

And that's pretty much how the game works. Homeworld boasts some very impressive Al. Watching the space battles you do indeed get the impression that you're watching a massive multi-player on-line action game as ships whizz about on-screen, pull evasive manoeuvres and sneaky offensive tactics. Pilots gain individual experience with successive battles, and you never feel as though you're watching 'generic' units in action.

Homeworld is Impressive. No bones about it. It looks impressive, sounds impressive and plays impressively. From what we've seen so far, it'll have as much in common with other strategy titles as Anthea Turner does with quality television.

And after HomeworlcP Garden just smiles, leans back and says quietly: "Our next project is going to blow the shit out of Homeworld." Let's just hope Relic don't try to run before they can walk.

Myth took the real-time strategy genre into 3D, and Homeworld stands to be the genre's next evolutionary step. Set in deep space, Home-world challenges players to command warships which can attack (or be attacked) from all sides during battle. Of course, you'll need to harvest resources between skirmishes (or salvage parts from defeated fleets). Homeworld promises unsurpassed graphical detail, a great plot, plenty of multiplayer options, and an intuitive interface. The screens look awesome; let's hope the gameplay follows suit.

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