Homeworld2: a very early first impression

Just bought it tonight, and only played up to the second mission (which I lost).

Storyline is a little weak so far–no spoilers here, it’s just another ragtag fleet sort of story–you know, Battlestar Galactica all the way.

I’ll give it some time to develop. But even if it requires saving a green-cheese moon from ravenous space mice, I likely won’t give a damn, because this game looks freakin’ beautiful, and the gameplay is impressive.

The looks are the major improvement, and that’s saying a heck of a lot over the last versions. Other changes include the building of units on a squadron-basis rather than individually, fairly dramatically sped-up gameplay, and a science unit integrated into the mothership. It appears, though I’m not certain yet, that modules on capital ships can be targeted separately. The building and science menus now appear on the right side of the screen so that you can manage gameplay while upgrading and constructing.

Some new units bear a wonderful resemblence to some of the more interesting sci-fi craft of bygone eras. For example, interceptors appear to be two wings short of the Buck Rogers TV show craft of the early 1980s. Explosions are slightly improved as well, with that LucasArts ring-thingy spurting out from capital ships, and remnant glowing debris.

My computer, Lamont, Son of Sanford, is currently running a Pentium 4 at 3.0 G (boosted from 2.4 G) with an overclocked Radeon 9600. It so far handles this game with aplomb at 1600 x 1200, though I haven’t enabled antialiasing yet. I built this thing with Homeworld2 and Half Life 2 in mind, with room for bulking up to Doom ]|[ when it arrives, so I am pleased that I can play with all eye-candy on.

Recommended system specs are a P4 in the 1.6 G range, 512 MB RAM, and a Radeon 7500 or better. The game engine is so smooth that I’ll bet one can get away with slightly less than that with most of the video options disabled. But doing that would be a shame, 'cause this is a game worth building a computer around. I highly recommend one checks out the demo to test system specs.

If I have any complaints so far, it is the usual ones: I have some trouble with assigning unit tactical settings and formations because the units move so fast, so keyboard mastery is probably going to be essential. The loss of control during important objective messages still wastes the formations you were trying to micromanage. Unit formations are different because they now align by squadron. I’m not familiar with them yet, but it initially appears as if there are fewer total formations, and I can’t find the parabolic X-formation which was my favorite.

And hey, I intend to play this damned game under the influence, so I need to be able to slow it down, dammit (one of the wonderful aspects of Cataclysm was that once you got really good at it, you could try to win with no casualties at all). The +/- keys don’t appear to work for time compression as they did in Cataclysm. And of course, one has to learn something close to 80 keyboard commands to be uber-badass in multiplayer mode, which I’ve yet to try.

None of those complaints, individually or as a whole, are enough to dock this game from an EXCELLENT initial impression. I’m not kidding when I say it’s the most beautiful game I’ve yet seen, at speed. And it’s all big-ass space battle stuff, dude!

Anyway, I know there are one or two Homeworld fans out there, so I thought I’d go ahead and say that it doen’t look disappointing at all–yet. Again I recommend that you try it before you buy it:


Even though I didn’t.

I’ll buy it… eventually.

I’ve played the demo, and I agree with your assesment of the graphics and gameplay: the graphics are gorgeous (I love the effects when seriously big ships bite the dust) and the gameplay is very cool.

I’m just on a tight budget at the moment :frowning:

I loved Cataclysm and look forward to getting this one. I just have a few questions.

It was much to easy to acquire money in Cataclysm. It didn’t really matter if you lost a carrier or battleship since you could build another one easily. In turn, they forced upon you the limitation of only allowing ~18 support modules. I didn’t much care for this system. Did they do the same thing in Homeworld 2?

Is this a good change? I haven’t really made up my mind on it yet. I’ll like to know what someone that’s played it thinks.

I believe they changed the salvage method. Is it better? I liked the way Homeworld implemented it compared to other games.

I’m downloading the demo now, mainly to see if it’ll run on my system. I’ll come back with my initial impressions later.

There’s a storyline? I might have to check out the campaign sometime, but my attention span is usually too short to make it through computer games’ single player campaigns. I’m having too good of a time setting up massive battles between me and the CPU. I hope I get to set up a LAN game of Homeworld II soon.

The old formations are gone, and while I miss those stately parades of ships, the new means of grouping ships are easier to understand tactically. If you select a large mixed group of frigates, fighters, and capital ships you can choose a formation based on what element of the group you want to protect the front of your group. If you are anticipating a lot of enemy fighters, a fighter screen formation will help protect your carrier from troublesome bombers.

One of the problems the original Homeworld had was that once folks started building Missile Destroyers, there was no point in having fighters. Smaller craft were ultimately worthless. In Homeworld 2, there are no Missile Destroyers. There are counters to strike craft, but nothing that makes them not worth having if you chose to use them. And now that you build them in small groups instead of one at a time, fighters are actually economically possible to build in the numbers you need.

Capturing enemy ships no longer entails having to push the enemy ship back to your mothership. Boarding parties fight for control and if successful, the ship color changes to your own and you get control of it right there. They have actually made it a little more difficult to capture in this game, a balancing issue I’m sure, but it is still quite possible to accomplish. I’ve even seen an enemy Flag ship get captured. I’ll have to try that trick myself sometime.

Module Limitations don’t seem to be much of a restriction. You can always build more carriers and they can hold most modules.

Argh. I loved the original homeworld. I don’t want to say I’m -dissapointed- with the sequel, but there are a few nit-picky things that bother me. . . .

– No Difficulty Settings. Actually, the games entire difficulty scaling is rather a pain. Everything i’ve read suggests it scales difficulty, according to the number of ships you end the previous level with, and bring into the next level. I keep finding myself feeling discouraged about building up my own fleet, due to this.

– The music is good. It just isnt as good as Cataclysm or HW. I loved the original HW music. The way that arabian horn just sorta bled into the drumloop. And Adagio for strings, Damnit!! In fact, I’m going to step out on a limb here and give my opinion, and say the music in HW, standing alone, contributed more to the game then any other component, singled out and standing by itself. I LIKED the game, when I started playing it. I realized I LOVED the game, after the first action music kicked in. It gave me the shivers. HW2, just hasn’t done that yet. . .

– Small bit here, but when you pause the game, the music and sound stops. Like the o.p., I play inebriated, oftimes heavily so. I pause a lot. In HW, I had fun pausing, zooming in on your craft and hearing their engine noise. And listening to the music. Now, its just dead silence. I imagine this is a fairly wimpy complaint to many people, but for me it just severely detracts from my enjoyment of the game.

– You don’t control your fleets actions at the end of the mission. You can’t choose when to hyperspace, instead it just autodocks. Sometimes, it was fun at the end of a mission to line the fleet up and see how hardcore they looked. Retire ships you didnt need, build ones you did. No more of that. Again, a very small detail. But It was fun having that element of control, and that calm decompression time in between missions to look out on the universe.

Im not saying the game is bad. Its just a few small things are severely detracting from my enjoyment of it. And its annoying to be bothered by such small things, when everything else about the game is so great.

It’s an absolutely beautiful game, and setting up a large task force of many different types of ship and just rotating the view around is a blast!

I didn’t play the original, but the feel of the game seems right. I don’t want too much micromanagement in my strategy games.

I haven’t gotten too far into the story, either. I just like slugging it out against the CPU players.

Frap! The original had Barber’s Adagio for Strings? Frap! I really missed out.

I love setting up a huge battle between task forces, then zooming in and following one small ship’s experience of the battle. I don’t feel like I have to manage battles, so this isn’t a bad way to view things.

I also love it when a ship explodes and I hit Pause at the same time. You can rotate and pan your view around to see details of the battle, and the explosions really seem like volumetric effects.