Pros:Excellent gameplay, graphics and strategy very solid
Cons:arbitrary 'unit capping' mechanism, scope much smaller than original
Ah, Homeworld. I look back on the homeworld saga with fond memories. The compelling story of the plucky Kushaani refugees fighting their way through the mighty Taiidan empire to find their homeworld brings a nostalgic tear to my eye... The second installment in the saga of homeworld comes in the form of Sierra's new Cataclysm. Intended as an expansion of the saga, Cataclysm focuses on the exploits of a smaller group of Kushaan. Cataclysm revolves around Kiith Somtaaw, a mining clan who is shunned by the more powerful Kiith(for those who are not familiar with Homeworld, the Kushaan society is divided among clans called "kiith") and tries to seek their fortunes among the stars.
The scope of the game is quite a bit different from the original Homeworld. Instead of controlling the massive Mothership and grand fleets of capital ships and swarms of strike craft, you get a single mining vessel of 'almost mothership class' and the ability to construct a decent sized fleet. The mothership also now builds 'modules' for different branches of the research tree. I like this touch because it is basically the equivalent of having multiple science vessels in the first Homeworld, but it does not allow the player to stack multiple research labs onto a single advance. Fleet size is one major gripe I have about Cataclysm. The concept of 'support units' has been introduced, and acts as a sort of unit-capping mechanism. I found this rather arbitrary and a bit annoying at times, since the Support cost of each unit is hard to find in the build window. Without the ability to build a large fleet, I found myself on the short end of the stick in large engagements. I did find the new units very interesting, and some downright amusing. For example, the ramming frigate's pilot sounds suspisciously like Slim Pickins from Dr.Stangelove. Cataclysm will force you to adapt your tactics to a more guerrilla warfare type of strategy, hitting and fading rather than building up your forces for a grind-it-out campaign. Attempting to 'go up the gut' and take on the bulk of an enemy fleet usually results in swift disaster, due to the fact that the 'Beast'(the du rigeur evil force bent on destruction) has the ability to 'infect' your ships and turn them against you. Only Beast Super-Capital class ships (Mothership,Carrier,and Heavy Cruiser) have the capability to infect your ships, but each can infect multiple ships. This can cause some serious "Oh (insert expletive here)" 's as your assault forces get turned against you.
Gameplay and graphics I will touch on momentarily. Gameplay has been streamlined slightly from the original Homeworld, giving easier access to all ship functions and placing build and research meters on the main screen. The graphics are quite good, though I found some of the ship graphics rather disappointing. (the Dreadnought looks pretty tiny to be called a Dreadnought....) Others were quite good, such as the tiny repair bots that swarm about a capital ship as it repairs itself from any battle damage it has sustained.
For those looking for a grand strategic adventure, pick up the origional Homeworld. If you enjoy a bit smaller scope and tough AI that will force you to adapt, pick this game up. If you like anything to do with space combat, pick this game up.
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