From the first steps it becomes obvious that the subject to which the developers focused on is graphics. The policy is absolutely correct: everyone who makes a game about space should make sure that the space looks good – the audience loves to look at something, but there isn’t so much in the open space. As a result, the only thing you can find fault with is the background, which should portray “the grandiose objects of the local solar system against the backdrop of the greatness of the vast expanse of space.” The “objects” were made beautifully, sometimes majestically: colossal and not very planets, burning luminaries, mysterious nebulae, titanic fragments of structures of artificial origin (it’s clear that half of the “natural cosmic phenomena” in real nature do not occur in reality, being simply decorative fiction ) Alas, due to the fact that they are painted and pasted “on the back wall of the Universe” – some of them look too blurry and fuzzy. You still cannot come close to them due to the specific features of the game concept – the whole action always takes place literally on a cosmic scale at the point where enemy ships share ridiculous distances of several tens of kilometers. But expertly crafted sunbeams create a play of shadows, the effects of blinding, “fire crowns”.
Blinding does not prevent you from playing normally – because it’s not difficult to simply find a different angle to look at your own or other ships (there’s nothing more to play with shadows). The camera rotates as it likes, changes the angle of attack, allows you to drive close to the ships or move away for a panoramic view, where the image comes down to moving the dots highlighted in the corresponding color (red – enemies, green – yours, yellow – allies). Fireflies are convenient to manage, but in good approximations, pictures can be admired, and the game process will always take care to provide enough time for this.
The ship models were created simply fantastically – magnificent “fish” designs, the highest quality textures that turn interplanetary war machines into toys, worthy to get on the covers of the best science fiction comics (bright, aggressive colors are more associated with entertainment than with real war). Plus “revitalizing” special effects – turrets rotate, “fire platform” barrels track enemy trajectories, nozzles spew out plasma, heavy damage is reflected in the form of mini-explosions and fires on the hulls, soot stains. Boarding ships “stick to the enemy” with a special beam, or release landing capsules. Light ships are reconstructed in the formation inside the link and, as part of a group of links, make coordinated approaches to the target, leaving inverted traces behind them – you can simply watch spellbound actions of a combat unit, it’s all spectacular. And all this is in the fireworks of luminous rockets, bombs, and other charges, in the needles of attacking rays – which are carefully made in the first place so as to impress. Large ships leave this world in a blinding flash, and especially large ones also decay into wreckage.
All this is mesmerizing even in the process of a normal game, and there are also videos on the engine – the effects are enhanced by additional decorative elements, professional camera work, preliminary arrangement of objects and light sources. And without that beautiful – they also show beautifully. Of course, in order to fully enjoy the sight, you need a powerful computer with a modern graphics card: on Celeron-1000, GeForce 2 MX 400 everything looked a little better than the first HomeWorld, and P4-2.4, Geforce 3 128 RAM did an excellent job in maximum video settings with 1024×768, unpleasantly slowing down at 1600×1200 (however, it’s difficult for a beginner to play in this mode – the text and controls are very small). An additional highlight are the plot videos, which smoothly go into the “engine clips” and vice versa. They are executed in a very original manner of “animated pencil drawing” or something, where static images are replaced by dynamic ones, and one can only dream of the “virtual materialization” of many of the equipment designs demonstrated in them.
Together, the visual sequences to help texts in the appropriate mood are put at the service of one task: to create the player’s sensation of a heroic saga, to place him in the atmosphere of legendary, large-scale, awe-inspiring events. True, in our opinion it will not be clear who did not play the first game – who, with whom and why is fighting, and why it depends so much on the relic hyper-transition devices that they always find somewhere. But this is nothing – they will be reassured by the magnificent pictures of powerful cannons of orbital defense, panoramas of the enslaving worlds and portraits of the leaders of the warring parties, in the best traditions of cyberpunk connected to control computers by immersion in a nutrient medium 🙂