I had meant to play Pillars of Eternity, that had been the plan for months. I had even played a whole 120 hour game (Baldur’s Gate 2) just to make sure I could cope with real-time combat in an isometric RPG.
But I am not playing Pillars, even though my family have gone to the in-laws for Easter and I have had to stop home because I messed up my Saturday swop. Despite having four nights and a day of free gaming time, I am not playing Pillars. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Pillars is no good or even that I don’t want to play it. It’s just that I have higher priorities, namely trying to save the remnants of a dying civilization. They are hanging helpless in the huge black void of space as I write, waiting for my swift return. They need me to guide and protect them through their hazardous journey across the galaxy and return them safely to their Homeworld. Even now, I can see in my mind’s eye the Mothership hanging in space; huge, but vulnerable. Continue reading →
I desperately wanted to play Homeworld when it was first released in 1999, but my computer was more than six years old at the time and didn’t stand a chance of being able to run it. Instead I pined for it, dreamt of it and persuaded Kalmfist to buy it; not that that did me any good, since he lived on the other side of the country at the time.
But this year, I finally got to play it and I was not disappointed. Homeworld is a 3D, real-time strategy game set in space. Your aim is to guide the Mothership and the rest of the fleet safely to your ancestral Homeworld. While it is a difficult game to learn, it rewards players who invest the time and effort necessary to master its systems and by the end of the game you truly feel like a skilled space tactician.
What is most striking about the game is the sheer size and majesty of the experience. It does a magnificent job of using scale to demonstrate the vastness of space. But more than this, it uses magnificent visuals combined with a haunting soundtrack to help the player feel as if they really are in the story. Alone, running from an enemy who ruthlessly destroyed your civilisation, your fleet is at once huge and powerful against opponents and yet tiny and insignificant against the backdrop of space. I felt compelled to protect them against the harsh empty vacuum of space and help them reach their Homeworld.
When I first saw Quartermaster General played, I was underwhelmed. It seemed mean that the Italians got beaten up so badly, I couldn’t quite see why anyone would want to play as them. The next time I saw it played, I was shocked when the plucky Italians stomped into the Ukraine and then later saved Germany’s ass. “Huh?” I thought, “they’re supposed to be Europe’s whipping boys”. The third game was even stranger, with Russia lunching an early push through Asia to capture China and give the Japanese a serious headache all game. Continue reading →