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Homeworld 2 PC CD-ROM

Published by Vivendi Universal Games
Developed by Relic Entertainment
Released: Out Now
Price: £29.99

While many would argue what the best RTS game has been over the last year no one could dispute what is the finest space based RTS. Homeworld was a sensation and it was everything a space based RTS should be. In fact I'm really surprised that Relic Entertainment was never approached to create a Star Wars RTS because the game engine for Homeworld would have been perfect for such a title. Finally 4 years on from the impressive Homeworld we have Homeworld 2. Can Homeworld 2 improve upon Homeworld? Let's find out.

Homeworld 2's campaign once again sees you controlling The Pride of Hiigara, the mothership (and effectively your mobile construction and research base) in an effort to destroy the evil Vaygr race. The Vaygr see themselves as the chosen ones and are intent on destroying the Hiigarans. Aside from the campaign you also have single player and multiplayer skirmish modes. The skirmish games allow you to play as either the Hiigarans or the Vaygr. The single player skirmish modes can be played against an AI with one of four difficulty levels whilst the multiplayer game can be played on a LAN or on the Internet (direct TCP/IP and Gamespy are supported).

Those who have played Homeworld will already know that this isn't your typical RTS game where lightning reflexes are a must. Sure the battles are on a grand scale but you always have time to make decisions and plan a course of action. Homeworld 2 is exactly the same in this respect and once more it feels like a breath of fresh air when compared with the many, many break neck speed RTS games out there. It's also worth noting that Homeworld 2 doesn't have any super spacecraft that can annihilate the enemy ships. Victory is only guaranteed by good tactics and forming intelligent strike groups. Like in all good RTS games you have control of how your units behave but Homeworld 2 goes further and commands such as Kamikaze attacks which only serves to add depth to the game. The AI of both your units and the enemy units is very good.

One of the most impressive aspects of Homeworld 2 is the wonderfully friendly interface. The control panel is at the bottom of the screen and can be dropped down should you not feel the need for it (you may have mastered the hotkeys for instance). Holding the shift key down and right clicking on a spacecraft will bring up the option menu for that spacecraft. My descriptions really cannot do the game justice, it is just so easy to do everything and this makes the game so much more enjoyable. Ironically if you've played the first game you'll probably take a little longer to learn how to use the game as the interface is a little different from Homeworld. The game comes with three tutorials (an introduction, basic commands and advanced commands) and these help to ease you into the game in a very friendly manner.

Graphically Homeworld 2 is a work of art. The game plays out as a gigantic, fully 3-dimensional, space opera and thanks to the quality of the graphics that's exactly how it looks. You really get a sense of being in space rather than simply flying around on a flat screen. The camera control is done via the mouse wheel and right mouse button and it works superbly. The spaceships look brilliant and it's very impressive how you can zoom right up to them. The cutscenes use the game engine and the transition from cutscene to gameplay is wonderfully smooth as in games such as Warcraft III and Age of Mythology.

Homeworld 2 is fine for deaf gamers. All of the tutorials, cutscenes and objectives are given in text. During a cutscene the screen goes into a letterbox format and the subtitles (white text) are shown in the black borders for maximum clarity. Unit confirmations (the voices that answer you when you give orders) are not shown but this doesn't in anyway hinder the gameplay. Mission objectives can be recalled at anytime as can all the dialogue you've received during the mission which is very impressive. The 68 page manual is informative and the pullout card that lists all the hotkey commands and describes the in-game icons is a most welcome inclusion.

Homeworld 2 is simply a stunning sequel to an excellent game. Fans of the original game will love Homeworld 2 and those who never played Homeworld should seriously consider this as an option because it's not only the best space based RTS out there, it is also one of the best games on the PC that you can currently purchase.

Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10
Absolutely stunning. Every PC gamer owes it to themselves to give Homeworld 2 a try. Homeworld was an incredible game in it's day but Homeworld 2 unbelievably improves up on it.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems for deaf gamers.