Homeworld: Cataclysm Review

Cataclysm is the follow-up to one of last year's top games, Homeworld. It's not quite an expansion game, since you don't need Homeworld to play it. On the other hand, it's not quite a full-blown sequel either. So what is it? It's a great bonus for Homeworld fans and an opportunity for those that never played the original to see what they've been missing.

The first thing Homeworld veterans will notice is that they no longer have a mothership - it has been replaced by a large mining vessel. Mining vessel??? Well before you lament the loss of your beloved mothership, you should know what a remarkably versatile ship this mining vessel is. Not only can it support the same activities as the mothership (research, ship construction, etc.), it can build and attach new modules to itself, constantly transforming itself into a stronger ship. ...and this ship can move!

Cataclysm also introduces eighteen new ships to the game. Some of the more interesting include the Acolyte, the Mimic, and the Leach. The Acolyte is a basic strike craft that can be upgraded with improved weapons, drive, etc. However, if you research Linking technology, pairs of Acolytes can be combined into a single, more powerful craft. A Mimic has the capability to project a holographic image that makes it appear to be an enemy ship. You can sneak it past enemy defenses and use it in a suicide attack on an enemy capital ship. The Leach comes equipped with stealth technology that allows it to slip up to an enemy ship and attach itself to its hull. From their it can try to steal resources from the target ship or just allow you to keep an eye on your enemy.

Cataclysm brings with it a new seventeen mission campaign (unlike Homeworld, Cataclysm only provides a single campaign). Also back are the stylized, comic-like black and white cutscenes. They work quite well since they stand in such stark contrast to the rich, colorful look of the game itself. Those of you who are Star Trek fans will notice that this campaign borrows heavily from Next Generation lore. However, it is a quite engaging campaign and does not come across as a cheap rip-off.

A very welcome addition to the game is a new time-compression capability. At the press of a key, the game tome is compressed by a factor of eight. This is a godsend during those times when you are waiting for your fleet to cross a large section of space.

There is also a new pilot's eye view that let's you see things from any ship's perspective. Use this view in the middle of a pitched battle and you'll see an engaging scene that will have you thinking that you are watching a science fiction movie.