Gearbox Launching Homeworld Remastered Collection Feb. 25

26 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Gearbox Launching Homeworld Remastered Collection Feb. 25.

Homeworld, one of the more beloved space-strategy franchises of the late 1990s/early 2000s, is flying back into relevancy. At PAX South in San Antonio this weekend, Plano-based Gearbox Software finally announced the price and release date for their long awaited recreation of two classic PC games, Homeworld Remastered, and it’s coming sooner than you might think.The Homeworld Remastered Collection, a renovated version of the first two core entries in the spacefaring strategy series, will launch on Steam Feb. 25 with a price tag of $34.99, Gearbox Software announced today. Just announced today at the PAX South convention, a brand-new HD remake of both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 will arrive this year—February 25, to be specific, which is more than a decade since either game was first released.

In a nutshell, Homeworld tasked you with managing a space fleet in all sorts of “you’re gonna die” encounters—warping in and out of various locations as your flagship, a giant mothership, attempted to find a habitable world for your civilization to call a new home. Homeworld is a sci-fi strategy game classic from 1999 (its sequel was released in 2003) that hasn’t been seen in a long time, and as is the case with many old games it’s not easy to get running on modern hardware, even if you happen to have a copy of the game itself. The package will also feature the classic versions themselves; partially so lovers of the originals can play through them without interference, but also so players can see just how far the remastered versions have come. Deep stuff, and an especially engrossing storyline that perfectly established the game’s key condition: Lose the mothership and it’s game over, period.

The remastering of Homeworld 1 and 2 was announced alongside the news that Gearbox had purchased the rights to the Homeworld franchise after the bankruptcy of former owner THQ back in 2013. Later, they announced that they were partnering with many of the game’s original creators not just for the remake but also for a sequel: Homeworld: Shipbreakers (previously in development as a “spiritual successor” to Homeworld under the name Hardware: Shipbreakers). For this remastered version Gearbox worked with main members of the original development team at Relic and even brought “passionate” fans into the process. Space itself is far lovelier; instead of battling in a black void punctuated by the occasional, errant star, battlegrounds can be shifting nebulas or spiraling asteroid fields.

Following its release in 1999 by publisher Sierra and developer Relic Entertainment, Homeworld received several Game of the Year awards and redefined the RTS genre. I heard about them, and the reverence people have for them to this day has made me regret missing them way back when (in my defense, I was a broke kid with a sub-par computer at the time), but I never took the dive.

Building that multiplayer component has been an arduous process, a Gearbox representative explained during my demo, as Gearbox is blending the maps, modes and races from both games into a single package. That has involved taking code from the two classic titles — code that didn’t fare especially well during the franchise’s dormancy and transition from THQ — and updating it with new code. He later co-founded Blackbird Interactive, which is developing Homeworld Shipbreakers. “That fact alone is a wonderful privilege for me, but it is beyond rare to be working on an all-new entry as well! With their help they were able to recreate the same look and feel from the original games, while making them more contemporary in terms of style and quality. I have been sucked into a bubbling time-vortex hot tub of Homeworld – and I love it.” When I asked about the possible development of a remastered Homeworld: Cataclysm, which takes place 15 years after the events of Homeworld, I was told (very sadly might I add) that the source code for the game has been completely lost.

Of course, creating a PC games in 1999 is quite different from making one in 2015, and the team was able to really finetune the style of the past, while bringing it more in-line with modern aesthetics. This is obviously the same game, and the new ships are easily recognizable as the old ships, but everything about Remastered strikes me as an obvious upgrade. This means that unless the code is somehow recovered, we are not likely to see the third entry into the original series remastered for us by Gearbox.

Battles that looked slow and choppy on the old software look downright zippy by comparison, with smooth animation of impressive space maneuvers and attractive graphical touches to everything from explosions to backgrounds to the individual lights on each ship. Figuring out how to maneuver and attack in full three dimensional space was tough, but the team assured me that the tutorials would help me out in the main game. While it sounds as if high-quality sources for the original audio were available for the remaster, Gearbox instead opted to fix something that fans complained about when the game first released: Due to timing conflicts, the voice actress for Homeworld 1′s Fleet Command was replaced for Homeworld 2, upsetting many players. Formerly blurry backgrounds, which actually looked great for their time, have been fully realized in this new game with beatiful tendrils of nebulous gas, or tiny specks of asteroid spinning in the distance. Players can always load up the originals for comparison’s sake, but if the demo I played is any indication, they’ll be too busy travelling the stars in glorious HD.

The team behind this remake clearly cares about the source material, and I’m personally very excited to experience the entire thing myself when the full game launches next month.

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