Homeworld 2 Review

It's been a long time coming.  In 1999 Homeworld captured the imaginations of strategy gamers with its amazing graphics and compelling gameplay, but what really set it apart was that Homeworld was the first game that really got space combat strategy gaming right.  Homeworld made it easy to command fleets of ships of all sizes in three dimensional space, leaving gamers free to plot their strategies and then watch the spectacular battles unfold.  Four years later the sequel is finally here, but in spite of the long wait Homeworld 2 is not an evolutionary leap forward from its predecessor.  However, Homeworld 2 is a great game in its own right and reestablishes the series as the top game in space strategy gaming.

The mothership is back in Homeworld 2.

In Homeworld 2 you guide the Hiigaran, the race which fought to reclaim its homeworld in the original game.  A new threat has emerged in the form of the Vaygr, a warlike and nomadic race which sweeps through space claiming new star systems.  Under the leadership of their warlord Makaan, the Vaygr have banded together to expand their domination deep into the reaches of space.  Now the Hiigaran are in the Vaygr's sights, but the Hiigaran have an ace up their sleeves in the form of their massive mothership.  The mothership is a massive, mobile starbase, shipyard, and research center all rolled into one.  The Hiigarans can make use of the mothership's hyperspace capabilities to respond to Vaygr attacks throughout Hiigaran space and even take the fight to their supply lines.

The story in Homeworld 2 has the feel of a science fiction epic.  The story unfolds through the use of cutscenes and black and white stills that masterfully bring you into the Homeworld 2 universe and compel you to become a part of the story.  It's like a good book or movie that hooks you from the beginning and gets you wrapped up in its world.  The voice narration during the game is excellent, avoiding the usual overacted, over adrenaline infused voice work typically found in such games.  The voiceovers are done in more of a reverent style, giving you the feeling that you are listening to a master storyteller recount an epic poem of old.  It also serves to give the Hiigaran a noble personality - they are faced with possible extinction, yet they pull together to do the work that must be done to ensure their victory and survival without displaying even a hint of fear or panic.

The gameplay in Homeworld 2 has not changed significantly from the original game.  You harvest resource units from asteroids in order to fund your fleet building and research into new ships, weapons, and systems.  Your mothership acts as your base, and serves as the resource collection point, research center, and shipyard.  You can also create mobile resource bases to extend your resource gathering network and carrier ships to act as forward shipyards, but the mothership will be central to your fleet's operations.  You'll have the opportunity to build a wide variety of ships, from small fighters and bombers to massive capital ships.  Each ship class has a primary role and its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so effective fleet management is critical to success - there is a good deal of strategy involved in building the right to both accomplish your objectives and counter the enemy's fleet.  In addition to the offensive ships available, there are probes which can be dispatched to keep an eye out for the enemy, stationary gun platforms with either anti-fighter or anti-capital ship weapons, and marine frigates.  This last class of ship can be used to board and capture enemy vessels, placing them under your control.