PC/Mac/Linux
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System Requirements
Pentium II 32MB of RAM 250MB HD Space (plus 50MB Permanent Swap File) 4MB PCI Video Card (16-bit color DirectX compatible) 16-bit DirectX compatible sound card 4X CD-ROM Drive Win-compatible mouse 32-bit ISP with 28.8+ kbps Modem or LAN required for multiplayer
For those of you who remember, Homeworld was touted (and rightly so) as one of the best looking and revolutionary RTS?s of all time. It?s unique game play, stunning graphics, and captivating storyline have left an indelible mark on the history of strategy gaming. The stand alone follow-up to Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, has, predictably enough, a lot to live up to. This ?new episode in the Homeworld saga? adds, along with replacing the original sides with new ones, several new game play features and a big new chunk of Homeworld storyline.

Story

The story of Homeworld: Cataclysm takes place fifteen years after the adventures of the original game. After the Hiigaran landfall and the defeat of the Taidanii Imperium, the surviving Hiigarans began rebuilding what they had lost. The ?Sleepers? (those Hiigarans placed in cryogenic suspension for the exodus to Hiigara) awoke to a bleak reality ? all those left on Kharak had been massacred by a now powerless enemy. All their family, friends, and comrades ? all not on the Mothership ? were dead. With Hiigaran society in shambles, the larger Kiith (Hiigaran guild-clans) began to seize power, eventually preventing almost half of the population from obtaining a fair vote in the government. Unable to establish a life on Hiigara, many of the smaller Kiith took to the stars. One of these smaller Kiith, a mining clan called Kiith Somtaaw, after helping to repell an Imperial incursion into Hiigaran space, comes upon an alien artifact. They unwittingly unleash an alien terror called the Beast; a destructive force capable of annihilating all life. Only you are in a position to stop it.

Game play

Homeworld: Cataclysm?s game play is well thought out, well balanced, and quite engaging. Your base of operations is the Kuun-Lan, a massive mining vessel, that, over the course of the single player campaign, makes the transformation from an unwieldy ore-hauler to a battle-hardened warship. Like most RTS?s, the player is required to deploy certain units (in this case, small mining vessels called ?workers?) to gather resources that can then be transported to the nearest ship equipped with docking pads. In an interesting twist, all of these ships (including the Kuun-Lan) are quite mobile, capable of establishing temporary mining - and in some cases, ship production - operations anywhere on the map, and moving to a different location when the ore runs out. Once these resources have been collected, they can be used to construct ships, fighters, and research pods attached to the Kuun-Lan that allow new technologies to be researched. Many of these technologies are quite powerful, and the player who aggressively researches them and then upgrades his ships can possess a serious edge in engagements. The game play itself is generally pretty slow, and even the swiftest fighters can seem to move at a snail?s pace sometimes. The game?s AI makes up for this, though. While not necessarily smart (the AI simply sends waves of enemies into the jaws of your defenses), the computer still succeeds at keeping you on your toes by simply giving you no rest. You?ll see no end to the enemy onslaught until you?ve utterly defeated them. In the end, this makes the various manifestations of the game?s single player very hard. Even when set on easy, the AI is tough to beat. The variety of ships available to both sides allows for a number of inventive strategies ? brute force and stealth tactics are available to both. Both sides are well balanced and well rounded with their own set of solid frontline units and bizarre specialized units. As such, battles can quickly change direction as new aspects are introduced and the combatants are forced to adjust their strategies.

Interface

The interface for Cataclysm is, while being relatively simple in theory, has a steep learning curve and can be quite confusing for those new to Homeworld. In hindsight, however, it?s well suited to use in a 3D environment, though a competent grasp of the controls are vital to success. Needless to say, things as simple as movement orders may take several tries to get a strike force exactly where you want it. One plus is its waypoint system and attack aspects of the interface, which are fairly easy to use ? once you get used to the rest of the interface, that is.

Graphics

As of this writing, Cataclysm is now about two years old, with the graphics engine being even older. Even then, the graphics for this game are nothing short of breathtaking. Everything from the engine exhaust trails to the explosion effects are beautifully presented, and the game allows you to focus on a ship and zoom in to appreciate it all. The weapons effects are especially nice. I don?t think I?ll ever forget seeing my destroyers unleash their formidable firepower for the first time.

Sound

The game?s sound is very adequate for the job, although it doesn?t even come close to the graphics for sheer dazzle factor. Some sounds, like the spitting sound of a fighter?s mass drivers to the rumble of the Kuun-Lan?s engines, are very well done. Others, like the weird sounds that emanate from Beast capital ships, sound too ?electronic?. Still, the sound adds a lot to the game, especially in the middle of a pitched battle when it really adds to the chaotic atmosphere.

Bugs

The game was very stable and easy to install ? I had no problems with either. Occasionally, the game would stutter when I started it up ? a problem that was soon fixed by restarting my comp. Cataclysm has several video card issues that I had no problems with, but that might cause problems for others.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer comes in a variety of unique modes and the game provides enough options to make battles thoroughly ?tweakable?. The multiplayer is somewhat hampered by rather boring maps ? simply vast expanses of space with rocks, resource crystals, and the occasional slipgate populating them. Cataclysm?s robust multiplayer makes up for this, though, and the game comes with its own map-making software, so that?s not much of a problem anyways. The game has a single player vs. CPU mode, along with multiplayer against humans available through Sierra.com?s own server menu (after an extremely easy sign-up) and (supposedly) WON.net, as well as through an LAN connection. As of this writing, however, enthusiasm for the game seems to have died down to the point that I couldn?t find a single game on Sierra?s server menu, and WON seemed to have dropped the game completely.

Appropriate?

As far as offensive content goes, it was almost nonexistent. Violence was relegated to explosions generated by weapons impacts and ship destruction, and swearing was (as far as I can remember) absent.

Overall experience

Overall, Homeworld: Cataclysm is a decent game that, while it doesn?t inspire the awe that its predecessor engendered, delivers a well developed thrill ride that is well worth the thirty-or-so bucks that you?ll pay for it. It has good gameplay, competent AI, good multiplayer, and adds to one of the best PC game plotlines of all time. If you?re not an RTS fan, though, don?t bother ? you?ll get bored real quick.

Final Ratings

Game play: B+ Interface: B- Graphics: B+ Sound: C Stability: A Offensive Content: A-

Overall: B

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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