Homeworld

The tale of an exiled people and their journey to their ancient home.
IAmResolved - Guest Reviewer
Content at a glance:

Destruction
The game features the destruction of spaceships during combat. No violence towards humans or animals is displayed on-screen.

Mild Profanity
The ’H’ word is used once during a cutscene.

Mild Sexual Content
The main character is seen at a distance from the rear, nude, during the final cinematic.

Spiritual Elements
One race exhibits extreme religious fanaticism, to the point of attacking those who do not conform to their belief.

Homeworld, by Relic Entertainment: the first 3D Real-Time Strategy game, and forever the highest standard for all other games in that genre. With cutting-edge graphics and revolutionary gameplay, Relic blew away the gaming world of 1999, claiming proudly IGN’s title for “Game of the Year”. Multiplayer was just as engrossing as the Story mode, and Homeworld still commands a handful of online faithfuls, even a decade after her release. Tunneling programs like GameRanger and Hamachi have allowed these few elites to play matches even after Sierra slashed support for Homeworld’s ‘WON’ online multiplayer platform. Neither before nor after her has a game been released so epic and genre-transforming as Homeworld.

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Notice: Plot spoilers may follow.

Story
The only element in Homeworld as engrossing as her graphics is her story. The Kushan were a race of humanoid people inhabiting a desert planet by the name of Kharak. The extreme temperatures on Kharak forced her people to dwell at her poles; for encompassing the equator of this planet was a massive desert, home to none but the fierce beasts strong enough to weather the heat. Their seeming inaptness to live amidst Kharak’s elements caused some of the Kushan to question whether they were from that planet at all. While some of the clans, or ‘Kiith’, rejected this idea as heresy, the question was abruptly answered when a massive starship was found buried in the sands of the Great Desert. They named this starship ‘Khar-Toba‘, meaning ‘First City’. Within the belly of this starship was a device with a power beyond the Kushan’s dreams; the ability to travel at post-light speeds, a form of transit known as Hyperspace. Next to this device was a large, flat stone: the Guidestone. Upon this stone was etched a galactic map, partnered with a single word: Hiigara. Home.

This momentous discovery spurred an enormous construction project to design and build what would be ‘the Mothership‘; a monstrous vessel that would carry a small number of the Kushan to their ancient home. The Mothership would traverse the galaxy with the aide of the Hyperspace Core, but not without one wrinkle in the plan: the AI processing power required to monitor all the Mothership’s functions was beyond the technological capabilities of the Kushan. Answering this problem was a young neuroscientist by the name of Karan S’jet. She volunteered to become wired to the Mothership itself, using her own mind as the central processing unit for the entire vessel. With Karan as Fleet Command, and the final preparations complete, the Kushan began their test of the Hyperspace Core.

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What the Kushan did not know was that Hiigara was already populated. The Taiidan, an empire spanning the entire galaxy, had been dwelling on the Kushan’s ancient homeworld for over four millennia; and the use of Hyperspace technology by the Kushan was in violation of a treaty almost as old as that empire. The consequence? The razing of their planet, Kharak. Thus the Kushan were faced with no choice but to make the trek to Hiigara, and retake what was theirs. Failure meant nothing short than the extinction of their people.
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Graphics
Homeworld is full of so much exquisite content that I have no other option than to include two separate categories for Graphics and Gameplay. The graphics in Homeworld were eye-popping in 1999, and still continue to amaze her viewers even with games out today far surpassing her in visual prowess. Movie-like sequences are divided into two types; cinematics and cutscenes. The cinematics are black and white animated drawings, shown prior to missions and upon their completion. Cutscenes are movies produced exclusively with the game engine itself; often these will initiate when a new objective is given or completed, or when interactions with other races are taking place. Both of these types of movies are beautiful to watch, and will rivet the player’s attention to the screen.

The camera is almost completely free; Homeworld’s 3D universe allows for a 360-degree view of every single ship. The player can zoom way out for a spectacular view of an ensuing battle, or fly in on a single ship for a close-up experience. After upgrading with the v1.05 patch, the player can even focus on any ship, including enemy vessels, and press ‘Q’ for a view from the pilot’s seat. Elegant engine trails tracing a fighter’s flight, spectacular nebulae floating in the background, fiery explosions erupting with the destruction of a defeated vessel: all these and more will continue to dazzle the player’s eye time after time as they play this wonderful game.

Gameplay
Along with her extraordinary graphics came Homeworld’s revolutionary gameplay. Homeworld was the very first 3D Real-Time Strategy (RTS) of its kind. For almost a decade, she was the only truly successful game in that newborn genre. No more were you confined to a strict linear map for movement. Now you had as much range as you wanted, and could form hundreds of different strategies in almost every scenario! Fly up over the enemy and ambush them or bring in two separate wings, one from above, one from below. The possibilities were endless.

Each faction, the Kushan and the Taiidan (both playable, by the way), had completely different ship design, and both groups even wielded two units unique to themselves. Research allowed new units to be produced as the game progressed, ranging from minuscule scouts to behemoth ‘heavy cruisers’. The ‘persistent fleet’ gameplay of Homeworld allowed all of the player’s surviving ships from one mission to be carried to the next, allowing for infinite arms combinations every time you played. The user interface was extremely simple, consisting of a small toolbar at the bottom (which collapsed when the cursor was away), allowing for maximum screen real-estate. Homeworld even supported the use of hotkeys to access different menus if you wished to disregard the toolbar completely.

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Offensive Content

Violence
Homeworld takes place in space, and thus naturally features the destruction of space ships of various sizes and classes, and even the razing of a planet. While obviously the pilots and inhabitants of said ships and worlds die when their vessels are destroyed, no violence is depicted toward actual living creatures of any kind; unless you count a cinematic portraying two floating, lifeless space suits while the narrator laments over the lives lost for Hiigara.

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Although, when the Mothership enters space directly surrounding Hiigara, the Emperor of the Taiidan attacks her. No damage is done to the Mothership or her fleet; only Karan is affected, and she is knocked unconscious. Theories claim that the Emperor attacked Karan telepathically, although this is not said in-game. Thankfully, Karan fully recovers upon completion of the final mission.
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Sexual Content
Karan S’jet, upon landfall at Hiigara, is depicted departing the Mothership in the final cinematic. She is shown at a distance from the rear, along with a handful of the Mothership’s crew. Having been extracted from the Mothership’s core, Karan is nude, with wires running out of her shaven head. Because of the drawing style and lack of color in the cinematic, the only detail shown is the crack of her rear. I myself did not find this overly offensive, although some might.

Spiritual Content


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Along their journey, the Kushan are forced to traverse through a nebula. The Bentusi, an enigmatic race of space traders who are aiding the Kushan on their journey, warn them that even the Taiidan fear the nebula. Faced with no other choice, the Kushan enter the nebula anyway, albeit cautiously.

Within the nebula, the Kushan encounter a race of religious fanatics by the name of the ‘Kadeshi’. The Kadeshi have named their nebula ‘the Garden of Kadesh‘, and it is their object of worship. All who enter and thus ‘defile’ their ‘garden’ are forced to join their ranks or die, according to their religious creed. The Kushan implore the Kadeshi to spare them and let them leave in peace, but the Kadeshi refuse. During combat, the Kushan notice that the Kadeshi’s hyperspace signature is distinctly similar to their own. The discovery is made that their technology is the same, and the Kushan even find within the nebula the wreck of a massive ship identical to the Khar-Toba. They alert the Kadeshi to the idea that their races might be kin, and ask them to join them on their journey to Hiigara. Unfortunately, the Kadeshi refuse out of fear of the Taiidan, and in an attempt to protect the secret of their location, they fight the Kushan to the final ship. It is unknown whether any of the Kadeshi survived deeper in the nebula.
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I do not view the Kadeshi’s fanaticism as an attempt by Relic to bash Christianity or religion as a whole, but rather as just another element to thicken the plot. This may be viewed differently by others, but I regress.

Another spiritual side note is that Relic drew from many sources while producing Homeworld’s plot, including books and Eastern religions. Hiigara can be viewed as another form of ‘Hijra’, connotated in Arabic as ‘Home’. Also, ‘Kadesh’ is an actual city in Israel. Fittingly, the meaning in Hebrew for ‘Kadesh’ is ‘sacred place’.

Language
As stated above, the ‘H’ word (what the h-) is used once during a cutscene. This is the only instance of cussing that I can recall hearing while playing Homeworld.

Positive Qualities
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Homeworld is centered around a journey to belonging: a fantastic trek made by a race of underdogs against a tyranny spanning the entire galaxy. The Bentusi reveal later in the game that the Kushan are actually descendants of a massive empire that ruled Hiigara ages ago, but were exiled by the Taiidan to Kharak, forbidden to ever use Hyperspace again. The Hyperspace Core that the Kushan found in the Khar-Toba was smuggled there during the exile; an ancient relic from their now-fallen empire that the Hiigarans hoped would lead their descendants back to their homeworld. The player is immediately drawn to sympathize with the Kushan, and feels a connection to this people as he leads them home. Homeworld is truly an excellent example of triumph over adversity.
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Conclusion
As you can tell, Homeworld holds a special place in my heart. While few people that I know have played her, everyone that I DO know experienced this magnificent title loves her dearly. This wonderful production’s negative qualities are far outweighed by her positive, and if it weren’t for her outrageously hard difficulty, I would recommend Homeworld to anyone.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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