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  Homeworld: Cataclysm
The first Homeworld was a revolutionary design in the Real Time Strategy field, incorporating the first fully functional three-dimensional system to be used in this field of gaming. With the capability to attack, defend, or harvest from every angle, Homeworld gave players the chance to truly understand space combat for the first time. Homeworld: Cataclysm (hereafter referred to as H:C) continues the tradition of three-dimensional real time strategic gaming.
Initial installation of H:C went unhindered as it unfolded its 300 MB into the hard drive. While the download ensued, I perused an extremely detailed history rich manual, complete with the story of who you are in the game, why you are in the game, who your fellow neighbors are, what their weapons are like and, most important, what your weapons are like. With the knowledge of H:C fresh in my mind, I took my first foray into H:C’s universe.

Foray is the correct term, due to the fact that initially trying to understand 3D combat is not as easy as at looks. Objects on the map, apparently in a certain location are, in actuality, somewhere else due to the vertical / horizontal introduction of space combat. This made for initial confusion as I would order my harvester units to a location on the map to begin mining, only to find no mineable resources there. The trick, I discovered (after having my harvesting units ravaged for a fourth time), is to first place yourself in an overhead view, place your cursor, then rotate the map so your able to judge how far up or down you have to send the unit in question. This mode of navigation is very easy to get used to, and soon I was plotting overhead attacks, and quick strikes from underneath.

The graphics in H:C are beautifully rendered, with 360 degree camera rotation and the ability to zoom in as close or as far as you deem necessary. (There’s even a pilot view so you can see what your Avenger pilots see when they’re facing off against that behemoth heavy cruiser). Units such as fighters are appropriately tiny in comparison to huge capital ships. Many was the moment I would stop everything just to watch one of my Acolyte fighters perform little maneuvers while one of my huge capital ships hung just behind it. The game played almost flawlessly, encountering chop only a few times, mostly in the navigation map when there were many units on the screen at the same time. Even though the box says that the minimum requirements for this game are a Pentium 266, my 500 had a hard time getting through some of those navigational map moments.

The single player game takes place fifteen years after the original Homeworld. The Hiigaran have found a homeworld and are busy trying to expand an empire, which isn’t easy when enemies are always lurking about. While out exploring the galaxy one day, your ship discovers an alien artifact, which releases "an alien horror" (direct quote from the box). "The Beast", a race that takes over it’s enemies via a techno-organic virus, effectively turning enemy to ally ( ::cough cough:: Borg ::cough cough:: ). As the story unfolds, it will be up to the player to learn as much as possible about the Beast and how to destroy them, while simultaneously upgrading a simple mining vessel into a war machine capable of taking on the most dreaded scourge of the galaxy.

Multiplayer allows a multitude of matches such as I Hate Harvesting (in which no harvesting is required, money injhections are turned on with a lump sum injection as well), Bounty Hunter (Each enemy ship you kill brings in a bounty in money. Players with larger fleets have higher bounty ratings, making them more attractive targets) and Carpe Diem (requires capturing an enemy ship to win the game). These games (except for I Hate Harvesting) take on a frenzied feel as there aren’t a lot of resources available, so it becomes a race to see who can gobble up the most money before striking out. It’s a very tricky situation, deciding between waiting for more units, or striking out with what you have now and hoping that the enemy can’t withstand.

So what’s the bottom line? If you have not played the original Homeworld, this game is an excellent opportunity to introduce oneself to three-dimensional combat. As a RTS, H:C is an interesting addition to the field; however, like other RTS games, it basicly comes down to the classic "Get resource, build as quickly as possible, overwhelm enemy" type of game, albeit with a host of new options.

Review ID Number: 163
  Product Details
Sierra
Review Date: 2001-04-20
Reviewer: Nick Sardy
Rating: 9 out of 10
 
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