|Composer(s)||Paul Ruskay; the game trailer was composed by Mike Neilsen|
|Release date(s)||September 16, 2003|
Homeworld 2 is a real-time strategy computer game sequel to Homeworld, developed by Relic Entertainment and released in 2003 by now defunct publisher Sierra Entertainment. Its story concerns Hiigara's response to a new enemy called the Vaygr. Its gameplay takes a new direction with the enhancement of its graphics and audio. In contrast to the closely equivalent Kushan and Taiidan forces of the original game, Vaygr and Hiigaran spaceships differ significantly in design and application.
Homeworld 2 shares the movement system and three-dimensional play area of its predecessor. Units are moved three-dimensionally using a combination of mouse movements and key presses to modify the z-axis of the destination position.
Gameplay in Homeworld 2 depends on so-called "Resource Units," (RUs) which are collected by harvester craft. RUs are the currency for both ship creation and technology research, placing limits on what combination of shipbuilding and new technology research can be carried out in a single game.
The player's fleet is centered on the Mothership, the destruction of which results in an immediate Game Over in a single-player game, and is a critical loss in a multiplayer game. The Mothership is capable of constructing all but the very largest ships, which must be built using Shipyards (the game states these are built at orbital facilities and arrive via hyperspace). The Mothership can also build Carriers, which themselves can build any ship from the Fighter, Corvette and Frigate families. Although the Mothership is initially the center of new research, Carriers and Shipyards can build their own on-board Research Labs.
All units in Homeworld 2 are starships of various classes, from small to large: Fighter, Corvette, Frigate and Capital Ship. Although the larger ships are more powerful and durable, they are also much slower and less maneuverable. Ships within each class specialize in certain areas and are vulnerable to certain other ships, although there may be ships in the same class that do not share the same vulnerability. Ion Cannon Frigates, for instance, are very vulnerable to fighters due to the unwieldy (albeit powerful) nature of their single weapon. Flak Frigates, however, are specifically intended for use against fighters, but lack the firepower to defend themselves against other frigates. Effective use of the relative strengths of each ship is essential for success.
Homeworld 2 allows players to co-opt enemy ships using specialized frigates, much like the original game. These maneuver close to enemy vessels and dispatch boarding parties, which capture the vessel after a short period of time; capture can be sped up by using multiple Frigates against the same target simultaneously. However, these frigates are completely exposed to attack during the boarding process, and all capturing progress is lost if they are destroyed.
Although Homeworld 2 nominally has no difficulty setting, it features dynamic difficulty adjustments, in which the strength of a level's opposition is determined using the composition of the fleet the player enters the level with (the fleet remaining at the end of the previous level). This led to an exploit in which players "retired" all of their ships at the end of the previous level, reducing them to RUs, and entering the next level with a huge store of raw materials to use against a very weak enemy. The game also codifies the support caps introduced in Homeworld, and explained in Homeworld: Cataclysm, by placing overall limits on how many ships of each class the player may control at once.
Mission objectives in the single-player game are primarily achieved by destroying key enemy elements, capturing particular targets, protecting certain units for a particular amount of time, or towing an object back to the Mothership. In addition to the storyline objectives, a significant portion of the missions require the destruction of all enemy units.
Homeworld 2 can be played online with 5 other players.
Homeworld 2 continues the struggle of the Hiigarans and their leader Karan S'jet. While in the original game the player could select either the Kushan or Taiidan races, in the sequel the Kushan are established as the canonical protagonists.
During the events of the original game, the Kushan race of the planet Kharak began a quest to discover and reclaim their home planet. The Kushan discovered the wreckage of the Khar-Toba, an interstellar transport, in a desert on Kharak, and inside found a galactic map etched on a piece of stone. From this the Kushan concluded they had been transplanted to Kharak some time ago. To reclaim their home planet—"Hiigara"— the Kushan built an enormous self-sufficient Mothership to carry 600,000 people on a crusade to reclaim Hiigara. This led to the engagement and eventual defeat of the Taiidan Empire which exiled them.
The story continues that, while it wasn't known at the time, the Hyperspace Core found in the Khar-Toba that was used to power the Mothership was incredibly rare and one of only three in the galaxy. The Cores, of which the Kushan had the second, were left behind by a so-called Progenitor race, which eventually allowed hyperspace travel. The First Core was possessed by the Bentusi: a powerful and enigmatic race of traders who assisted the Exiles during the first game. The third was lost until approximately one hundred years after the Exiles reclaimed Hiigara, found by a Vaygr Warlord named Makaan. With his massive Flagship empowered by the third core, Makaan began a campaign of conquest, seizing control of the remnants of the Taiidan Empire and surrounding star systems, and—as of the beginning of Homeworld 2—began attempts to capture Hiigara. The story states that religious beings of the galaxy consider the discovery of the Third Core to announce the End Times, during which Sajuuk, thought to be an immensely powerful being, will return. Makaan believes himself to be the Sajuuk-Khar, a messianic figure that will unite the Three Cores and herald the return of Sajuuk.
The game begins with the commissioning of a new Mothership, the Pride of Hiigara, similar in shape and design to the original Mothership and commanded by Karan S'jet, as in the original game. The ship is attacked by the Vaygr during the final stages of construction but escapes. The Bentusi inform the Hiigarans that they must find Balcora Gate, left behind by the Progenitors, behind which is something essential for stopping either the Vaygr threat, the End Times, or both. The Great Harbor Ship of Bentus, last of the Bentusi, sacrifices itself after being ambushed in a Vaygr attack, leaving its Core for the Hiigarans to claim in order to stop Makaan. But the Warlord learns of the Balcora Gate as well, and the game's penultimate mission takes place on the other side of Balcora Gate, where Hiigarans and Vaygr alike discover that Sajuuk is in fact a Mothership-sized Progenitor starship, with sockets for the Three Hyperspace Cores. The Hiigaran fleet engages Makaan's forces and destroys them, claiming the Third Core from Makaan's destroyed Flagship. With all three Cores, the Hiigarans reactivate Sajuuk, abandoning the Pride of Hiigara, and use it to defeat the leaderless-but-still-dangerous Vaygr invasion; Sajuuk is later found to be the key to a galaxy-wide network of hyperspace gates, ushering in a new age of trade and prosperity for all civilized races in the galaxy - the Age of Karan S'jet, the true Sajuuk-Khar.
Like the original Homeworld, there are only a handful of individual characters with a prominent place in the narrative:
- Karan S'jet: The main protagonist, the scientist who volunteered to become the living core of the Mothership during the original game, returns once again as Fleet Command on the Pride of Hiigara to lead the Hiigaran fleet against the Vaygr. She is voiced by Jennifer Dawne Graveness, taking over for Heidi Ernest (the original voice of Fleet Command in the first game and in the training missions for Cataclysm).
- Fleet Intelligence: Much like in the original game, Fleet Intelligence is a male character who analyzes sensor data and generates mission objectives during the single-player campaign; also like in the original game, he is not heard in multiplayer. He is voiced by Eli Gabay.
- Captain Soban: Commander of the Ferin Sha fleet that aids in the defense of the Pride of Hiigara during a Vaygr attack.
- Captain Elohim: Commander of a Kiith Nabaal shipyard that eventually joins the Mothership fleet.
- Makaan: The main antagonist, Makaan is a warlord of the Vaygr and ruler of an interstellar domain that includes the remnants of the Taiidan Empire. He believes himself to be the Sajuuk-khar, the Chosen One who will unite the Three Cores and bring about the return of Sajuuk. Unlike the Taiidan Emperor in the original Homeworld, Makaan is a battle-hardened warlord and brilliant strategist. He is voiced by Mark Oliver.
||This section possibly contains original research. (November 2008)|
There are four major factions in the storyline of Homeworld 2: the Hiigarans, the Vaygr, the Bentusi, and the Progenitor. However, only two, the Hiigarans and Vaygr, are playable.
The Hiigarans are the playable race in the single player game. Their story began in the original "Homeworld" as a number of Kushan clans on a desert planet called Kharak. They detected a large metal formation in the Great Desert after a deep-space scanning satellite encountered an error in its propulsion system, which turned it around and scanned the planet's "Great Desert". It was revealed to be an ancient space ship, turned into a city, known as the "Khar-Toba". Inside was a stone with a galactic map and the text, "Hiigara", which means "Our Home". The technology discovered allowed the Kushan to build a massive Mothership which took 60 years, according to the opening cutscene. However, no computer was powerful enough to command the Mothership, as there would be too much data to be processed at any one time. A young scientist named Karan S'jet volunteered to become the living core of the Mothership after creating the technology to neurologically link her brain to the Mothership's systems (this action, however, led Karan to become inseparable from the core, but it is revealed at the end of Homeworld 1, she survived being disconnected from the vessel). Within the Khar-Toba was one of the three known Hyperspace Cores, which allowed the Mothership to perform its hyperspace jumps.
After generations in exile and a perilous journey across known and unknown space, the Kushan/Hiigarans fought their way to Hiigara, reclaimed their homeworld, and became a well-established nation controlling much of the Inner Ring of the galaxy. During the game it is learned that the Kushan were the exiles of the Hiigaran Empire, which had historically spanned throughout a great area of space within the galactic core. However, the Taiidan Emperor believed the Hiigaran expanse was too great, and thus under duress forced them into exile. The Hiigaran refugees fled to Kharak, secretly taking their hyperspace core with them.
However, the true test for the Hiigarans may not be the new threat of the warring Vaygr, but a prophecy that Sajuuk – "He Whose Hand Shapes What Is" – will return and herald the coming of the End Time. The Hiigarans, as always, are divided on religious lines. A number of apocalyptic sects see portents of doom everywhere. To them, the rumor that their enemies the Vaygr are the Sajuuk-Khar- "The Chosen One"- is a dire omen and proof of Sajuuk's anger.
In Homeworld 2, a new Mothership has been created, named The Pride of Hiigara. Karan S'jet must once again prepare for war. Shortly after the Pride of Hiigara was built, the Vaygr attacked in order to destroy it. The Pride of Hiigara escaped with its hyperspace core newly installed. The main story line picks up from this point.
The Pride of Hiigara has the same role as the mothership did in the original Homeworld, although it now bears a more militaristic look in keeping with its new role. While the old Kushan mothership was the heart and soul of the Kushan people during their great migration, the Pride of Hiigara is the flagship of their space navy. It is the mobile base from which all the crews and resources are ultimately derived. It is the only vessel that cannot be manufactured or replaced.
The Vaygr are a warrior clan originally from Vay, an isolated planet in the eastern fringes of the galaxy. The discovery of early and inefficient hyperdrives enabled these warriors to travel and raid widely across their sector of space. Always a nomadic race, the strongest warlords brought groups together into crusades. A Vaygr crusade is entirely independent. The build capacity of their Motherships (Also known as flagships) combined with the resource harvesting of their individual craft enable them to live self-sufficiently in space. Communication between separate Vaygr crusades is minimal.
Over the centuries, the Vaygr have integrated many separate races, civilizations and technologies including - as is learned from the opening scenes of the game - what remains of the Taiidan Empire. The planet Vay is now forgotten; the name they take is its only living reminder. Constant infighting between separate crusades and struggling for position among warlords has kept the eastern fringe a warzone for a long time. However, under the guidance of the warlord Makaan, the various Vaygr tribes have formed into a cohesive force. While still operating independently, the overall strategic aims of the Vaygr have been coordinated and focused by Makaan, a master strategist.
Homeworld 2 opens with a massive Vaygr invasion of Hiigarran territory. However, by the end of the single-player campaign, Makaan was destroyed at Balcora and the main invasion force defeated in the Siege of Hiigara. It is not clear if remnants of the Vaygr continue to exist in the Outer Rims.
The Bentusi are an enigmatic race of highly advanced, nomadic traders. Calling themselves "The Unbound", the Bentusi have no known leader and are all cybernetically integrated into their ships (much like Karan S'Jet but believed to be much more advanced). The Bentusi are a very ancient, wise race who do not claim any planet for themselves, instead opting to live exclusively among the stars. It would probably be impossible for the Bentusi to even survive outside of their ships, since they are physically connected to them. The Bentusi are one of the three races to possess hyperspace cores, along with the Vaygr and the Hiigarans. They made their debut in the original Homeworld and traded the Hiigarans the ion cannon technology. They also brought the Galactic Council to Hiigara to persuade the Taiidan to allow the Hiigarans to have their homeworld again. The Bentusi were instrumental in revealing the history of the Hiigarans. In Homeworld: Cataclysm they helped perfect the siege cannon and gave the designs for the Super Acolyte in the end. They are seen leaving the Homeworld galaxy in a mass exodus, due to the events in Cataclysm.
At the beginning of Homeworld 2, the Bentusi are described as having one ship, the Great Harbourship of Bentus. It was revealed that 4,000 years before the events of Homeworld, the Hiigaran Empire's fleet abused the use of their hyperspace core. Due to Bentusi pressure, they were ordered to give it up, but in an act of defiance they attacked the Bentusi fleet. As a consequence, the Hiigaran ships were obliterated by the Bentusi, enabling the vengeful Taiidan to conquer Hiigara and drive the people into exile on the desert planet Kharak. The Bentusi thus are indirectly responsible for the Hiigaran exile and felt compelled to help the Kushans return to their Homeworld. Because of their guilt the Bentusi adopted a peaceful existence.
Eventually, the Bentusi ship self-destructs to save the Hiigarans from an attack by Progenitor Keepers, thus apparently ending the presence of the Bentusi in the Homeworld universe.
The Progenitors were an immensely powerful and technologically advanced race that apparently died out about 10,000 years ago. Much of what remains from them is found in the Karos Graveyard, Great Wasteland, an area full of spaceship derelicts and debris.
The three Hyperspace Cores were created by the Progenitors in the forge module of one of their greatest spaceships, which was also the berth for the dreadnoughts. One of the cores was discovered by the Bentusi 6,000 years ago, which brought forth a great age of galactic prosperity by making possible interstellar travel over long distances. The second core was discovered by the pre-Exodus Hiigarans, who through misuse of the device ended up being exiled to Kharak. The third core was found by the Vaygr. The central conflict of Homeworld 2 revolves around acquiring all three cores and unlocking their secrets.
The Progenitors possessed great knowledge of interstellar and even intergalactic travel. Their hyperspace gate network, which uses The Eye of Aarran as its main gate, is one of the many constructed by this ancient race which possibly "seeded" intelligent life throughout the universe.
Sajuuk - "He Whose Hand Shapes What Is", also called the "Great Maker" - was before the Homeworld 2 plot thought to be a god in the eyes of many races in the Galaxy. Though this theology is not disproven by the events of the game, Sajuuk was also the name of a Progenitor and a warship. It was found by the Vaygr at the center of the galaxy, and accessed through the Hyperspace Gate at Balcora. It is only reactivated when the Trinity of the Three Hyperspace Cores is restored within it.
How the Core Trinity was initially separated thousands of years earlier is not spoken of. Oddly, Makaan - through some supposed influence of the Third Core - foresaw that the Hiigarans would bring the other two Cores to him, instead of the Vaygr having to fight to acquire them.
Like the Dreadnought, Sajuuk is armed with a Phased Cannon Array; though it is several times more powerful than a Dreadnought's, and can easily destroy even Mothership-class vessels in a few volleys. Defensive weapons include numerous pulsed energy arrays along the hull. It is also one of only two ships in the single player game that can be commanded to make tactical hyperspace jumps. In addition to a near-perfect resistance to conventional weapons, the Sajuuk is the only weapon capable of damaging (and destroying) the Vaygr Planet Killers - themselves based upon advanced technology.
In the game's epilogue, Sajuuk is the key to activating the long-forgotten Eye of Aarran - a portal to a galaxy-wide hyperspace network left behind by the Progenitors. This activation signaled both the End of the Third Time that the Bentusi had prophesied, and the beginning of the Age of S'Jet. It is named this because Karan S'Jet was now linked to the Sajuuk vessel in much the same way she was to both the Kushan Mothership (from "Homeworld") and The Pride of Hiigara. The meaning of the phrase Sajuuk-Khar is cloudy, as at least three translations are heard in-game: Manipulator, Chosen One and Custodian.
The soundtrack of Homeworld 2 was again created by Paul Ruskay, like the former parts of the series. An outstanding feature of Homeworld 2, mentioned positively in many reviews, were the scenery background graphics. They were generated in an unusual, innovative way by tessellation of a texture into colored vertices, which surround the playfield as a sphere.
Homeworld 2 uses a proprietary scripting language, known as SCAR (SCripting At Relic) in addition to others. The SCAR language was created for the express purpose of coding in Homeworld 2 and deals mainly with events in the single-player campaign (zooming out with the camera, creating enemy ships, moving the player to the next level, etc.). Homeworld 2 also makes use of version 4.0 of the Lua programming language. Homeworld 2 uses Lua for in-game levels, formatted as .level files, AI, and as a Rules Engine for game logic. The developer sets many variables inside a Homeworld 2 game, including ambient light, background, placement of start positions and asteroids, among many other things.
Approximately a year after the release of Homeworld 2, in August 2004, Relic Studios was purchased by THQ for approximately $10 million USD. As THQ was considered to be a competitor of Sierra Entertainment and Vivendi Universal, the prospect of a Homeworld sequel remained unlikely as Sierra was still the owner of the Homeworld IP until September 2007 when it was announced that THQ was in talks with Vivendi to purchase the license Homeworld franchise. In November 2007, THQ finally confirmed that it had acquired the license for the Homeworld franchise but didn't confirm a sequel maintaining that it had no comments on future games from THQ based on Homeworld. However, Eurogamer reported in November 2008 that Relic was "definitely looking" at creating Homeworld 3. "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II" lead designer Jonny Ebbert commented that "We're really happy the IP has made its way home, and yeah, we're definitely looking at it. We'll see what happens in the future,". Ebbert also commented that there was always a chance that the sequel could be in development behind closed doors. The strongest evidence indicating that Homeworld 3 is in development came from Relic's General Manager, Tarnie Williams indicating that "three or four" titles were in development while declining to elaborate further. In 2011 Relic confirmed that they would "like to develop Homeworld 3" but they did not confirm or deny working on it. In early 2013 THQ suffered financial difficulties and liquidated their assets due to bankruptcy; Relic was sold off to SEGA. The Homeworld IP was not part of this sale. Despite early speculation that SEGA would attempt to rescue the IP, ultimately the Homeworld IP was sold to Gearbox Software. Gearbox announced that their initial plans would be to bring the existing Homeworld games to digital sales platforms, but also created a forum on their website specifically asking for fan ideas about how the series should proceed. Blackbird Interactive, a newer developer made up of many of the designers of the original Homeworld, later offered their support of Gearbox's purchase of the IP.
Recently, Blackbird Interactive, announced the creation of their game: Shipbreakers. Originally, the game developers focused on a game that carried the "essence" of Homeworld, but not directly related. However, Gearbox recently made an arrangement with Blackbird to re-brand Shipbreakers into Homeworld: Shipbreakers; officially tying the game as part of the Homeworld universe. However, rather focusing on a true sequel, the game focuses on the past; it's a prequel. 
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra: The Next Step Forward on anandtech.com: As intricate as the gameplay is for this game, the beautiful backgrounds help immerse you in the complex gameplay. (April 2004)
- Homeworld2 - The Graphics on techarp.com: What impressed me most in Homeworld 2 was the background. (November 2003)
- Trümpler, Simon (2013-03-15). "Homeworld 2 - Backgrounds - Game Art Trick #26". Retrieved 2013-06-25. "Could it really be, that this is vertex color? Luckily you can watch at .HOD file with CFHodEdit. And another tool can force a wireframe mode. And now look what this brought to light. [...] This is one of the most brave solutions for game art I ever saw."
- "Homeworld 2 Game Rankings Reviews". gamerankings.com. January 7, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- "Homeworld 2 MetaCritic Reviews". gamerankings.com. January 7, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- Curt Feldman. "THQ discloses Relic purchase price". GameSpot.
- Justin Calvert. "THQ to acquire Relic Entertainment". GameSpot.
- Robert Purchese. "THQ Does Own Homeworld". Eurogamer.
- Johnny Minkley. "Relic "definitely looking" at Homeworld 3". Eurogamer.
- Sliwinski, Alexander (2013-04-22). "THQ auction results: Nordic Games takes Darksiders, Red Faction; 505 Games is Drawn to Life". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
- Edge Online
- Official homepage, archived on WayBackMachine
- Homeworld 2 at MobyGames
- Homeworld 2 at the Open Directory Project
- Homeworld Shipyards, Ship Database archived on Relic