Homeworld Remastered Now Available

Homeworld Remastered CollectionHomeworld Remastered Collection, Gearbox Software’s high definition remaster built for modern PCs, launched today, Wednesday February 25 to the tune of $34.99. In commemoration of the launch, Gearbox unveiled a launch trailer set to the tune of Sail by AWOLNATION.

The trailer feels more at home with their flashy, boldly fonted videos they create for their Borderlands franchise than it does with the traditionally more thoughtful Homeworld franchise. It is, after all, a game that is often associated with Barber’s Adagio for Strings in one of the most orchestrated, thoughtful openings of the late ’90s.

Homeworld Remastered is of course, Gearbox’s love letter to the often requested 3D Real Time Strategy title created by Relic Entertainment. The visuals have been overhauled to support modern, high definition displays with plenty of new textures. The Gearbox team took a calculated approach to Homeworld, attempting to meet what players’ memories and imaginations recall when thinking about the original PC game.

Compared side by side, Homeworld has certainly come a long way and I adore all the new textures and new details that can be found throughout the remaster. It is a game whose mechanics have aged remarkably well, with proper visuals built to allow the stellar gameplay to thrive. This is how you revive a franchise.

 

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Return to Space in Homeworld Remastered on Feb. 25

Homeworld RemasteredThe groundbreaking classic Real Time Strategy game Homeworld will finally see its long awaited Remastered debut as a digital release on February 25. Announced at the inaugural PAX South in San Antonio, Gearbox Software will release a remastered collection including Homeworld, Homeworld 2 and access to the beta of the games improved multiplayer mode. Homeworld Remastered will launch on Steam for a price of $34.99

Picked up by Gearbox Software after THQ closed its doors in 2013, Homeworld is largely seen as one of the defining RTS titles of its era. While 2D RTS games like StarCraft and Command and Conquer were the bread and butter of those days, it was Relic Entertainment who dared to create a fully three dimensional RTS, with complete vertical flight control, in its space RTS Homeworld. It was an absolute orchestration of beauty, commanding small fighters, frigates and the incredible mothership in unique skirmishes. To this day, it is one of the most satisfying games to play, even in defeat, merely because it is such a joy to play.

I have never been shy of my adoration of Homeworld and consider it one of the most incredible and under appreciated games of all time. Which is saying a lot for a game that garnered multiple Game of the Year honors and perfect scores from numerous publications. Although incredible for its time, a lack of digital release and poor management of its IP ownership are largely to blame for Homeworld remaining dormant following the release of its sequel.

The new remastered version will feature improved graphics, sound and mechanics, all updated to account for modern advances in hardware. Also to be included will be new cinematic effects and support for HD and UHD 4K resolutions. For fans of the original titles, an unadulterated classic mode will be included as well, to experience the game as it was back in 1999.

The multiplayer component of Homeworld is not going to available at launch because much of the netcode and programming had to be scrapped for the new remastered collection. Instead, Gearbox is planning to integrate both multiplayer components of Homeworld and Homeworld 2, to create an ultimate suite of Homeworld multiplayer and optimize the experience for a large number of players.

Gearbox clearly meant business when they acquired the rights to Homeworld. In addition to taking the time to properly remaster the original titles, they brought on Blackbird Interactive, a team comprised of ex-Relic developers, many who worked on the original Homeworld. Blackbird had previously been working on a spiritual successor to Homeworld, an RTS game called Shipbreakers. Shipbreakers would go on to be purchased by Gearbox so that they could integrate it into its rightful place in Homeworld’s universe as a prequel titled Homeworld: Shipbreakers.

Homeworld was one of my earliest purchases as a budding PC gamer. I still remember that opening sequence, set to Barber’s Adagio for strings, as the mothership preps for its maiden voyage. It is an incredible experience of a game, a genre defining title that has yet to be matched to this day. If the Homeworld Remastered collection does well, there’s no reason that Homeworld: Shipbreakers will be even more outstanding.

High Definition Update to San Andreas Coming to Xbox 360 Next Week

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Rockstar Games slid a little love to Xbox 360 owners still looking to squeeze a little life out of their 8 year old consoles. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be made available on the Xbox 360’s Games on Demand service with enhanced HD visuals at 720p resolution featuring enhanced draw distance and achievement support with 11 achievements. The game will launch on October 26, 10 years to the date of the game’s original debut.

This is not the first time that GTA: San Andreas will grace the Xbox 360 as the game was made available as an Xbox Originals download, which was recently de-listed. Priced at $14.99, the new version will not be compatible with Xbox Originals save files and there is no official word on release on any other systems beyond the Xbox 360.

The release coincides with special San Andreas themed events being held in Grand Theft Auto V’s GTA Online.

Many regard San Andreas as one of the best titles in the critically acclaimed franchise and it certainly benefits from much of the growth during the GTA3 era. I personally am intrigued with the HD improvements as I only played through about two-thirds of the original launch on PS2. A return to the original Grove Street would be a fun distraction and certainly feed into my completionist nature.

Rockstar Support – Games on Demand GTA: San Andreas Replacing Xbox Originals Version

Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Gets a Western Date

Final Fantasy X-2 HD

For those still holding on to the hope that the HD remasters of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 would be making its targeted Decemeber are in for a bit of disappointment. Square Enix announced that the Sony exclusive HD collection will be available in North America on March 18 and Europe on March 21. The collection is still set to release in Japan late December.

As we edge to the end of November, a December release date was looking increasingly unlikely and I expected the game no earlier than February. The March release date puts X / X-2 hot on the heals of the Tales of Symphonia Chronicles collection, so my PS3 is certain to get a nice workout next spring.

Square Enix unveiled a new trailer to go along with the announcement which only served the purpose of reminding me how terrible the soundtrack is in English.

PlayStation Blog – Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster Coming to PS3 March 18, 2014

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD Due Early 2014

Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD

UbiSoft’s previously PS Vita exclusive Assassin’s Creed: Liberation is set to make its HD remaster debut on current generation consoles early 2014. While no Xbox 360 release date is being slated beyond “early 2014,” the hit Vita title from 2012 is set to launch on PlayStation 3 January 14 and Windows PC January 15.

AC: Liberation was praised for its bold narrative, a story centering around the assassin Aveline, a half French half African-American woman in the years preceding the American Revolutionary War in Louisiana. It was certainly a game that caught my attention, in particular for its tone and setting coupled with the fact that it is the best looking mobile version of Assassin’s Creed to date. I had previously been holding out for a console release as many viewed the game as solid, but something that would ultimately benefit from seeing a console release.

Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD

I am a little concerned at the lack of a immediate release date for the Xbox 360 as UbiSoft has been making a conscious effort to distance itself from Microsoft. What started as time-based exclusivity on DLC for games like Watch_Dogs has extended to franchises that have performed well on the Xbox brand, including Assassin’s Creed. Further muddling the relationship is that the Xbox One’s software status seems to be pushing forward while UbiSoft is mired in delays with their next generation fare, especially with the company’s push for support in Sony’s PlayStation 4.

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation has a base price of $19.99 and includes a special promotion of a $5 discount with the purchase of the Assassin’s Creed IV DLC season pass.

Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD

Gaming Backlog – Wind Waker

Wind Waker HD

The term system seller is thrown around a lot when referring to titles that are “must-own” alongside their exclusive consoles. Halo was that title for the original Xbox just as Super Mario Bros. was for the Nintendo Entertainment System. But on a case to case basis, a system seller can be more than a high water mark like Halo was. Personally, I purchased an Xbox for Dead or Alive 3, not Halo (which was actually the third game I purchased). To me, a system seller is a game that is immediately identifiable as a companion to a particular console. With that definition in mind, there is no game to console relationship quite like how The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was to the GameCube. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Games that need an HD remake

Over the weekend at the Tales of Festival in Japan, series producer finally confirmed the rumors surrounding a possible HD remake of Tales of Symphonia. Scheduled to release for the PlayStation 3, the tentatively titled Tales of Symphonia Chronicles will include HD remakes of the PS2 cut of the original Tales of Symphonia as well as an HD version of the sequel, Dawn of the New World. Symphonia is not only my favorite entries in the Namco produced franchise, but is also one of my favorite games of all time. Getting to revisit the story of Lloyd, Collette and Kratos has me giddy with excitement, especially since I neglected to play the sequel, which launched to lukewarm reception.

Tales of Symphonia

It seems that HD remakes are becoming a simple way for studios to both cater to their fans and make a bit of money by giving their successful franchises a fresh coat of paint. Already we’ve seen HD renditions of God of War, Metal Gear Solid, Jak and Daxter, Shadow of the Colossus, Halo: Combat Evolved and even downloadable fare in Prince of Persia, Rez and Beyond Good and Evil to name a few. The trend will continue with HD collections of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X on the horizon, as well as remakes of Duck Tales and Mickey’s Castle of Illusion.

Continue reading