HomePlanet

HomePlanet

Preview - our first peek at the new Russian-made space combat sim

The space combat genre is traditionally a rather stagnant one, with the likes of Starlancer and Freespace offering remarkably little progress over the venerable Wing Commander series apart from bigger explosions, flashier weapons effects and higher resolution backdrops. Now Russian developer Revolt Games is trying to break out of the space sim straitjacket with a novel sounding new game called HomePlanet. There's No Place Like Home Several centuries from now man has conquered not only the stars but also his own body, with biotech implants commonplace. Human nature being what it is though, battles have broken out between rival warlords looking to corner the market by capturing cutting edge technology, which in this case belongs to the Troiden clan. Following a bloody massacre sparked by a group of their soldiers hopped up on the latest brain stimulants, the Troidens are forced to flee their world, pursued by a host of other clans seeking to steal the formula for their lethal product. Which is where you come in. Taking on the role of a Troiden pilot, you must help defend the survivors as they search for a new home, fighting off a variety of persistent enemies along the way. Not everybody you meet is hostile though, and you will cross paths with a neutral faction called the Confederation en route to your new home. Thanks to the game's non-linear campaign their reaction to you will depend on your actions; they may decide to aid you .. or to aid your enemies against you. Wing Commander As is often the case in such games you will gradually rise through the ranks during the course of the single player campaign, eventually giving you command over an entire squadron of AI controlled wingmen. Rather than simply ordering them around with a basic voice comms menu though ("attack my target", "follow me" etc), Revolt are going the action-strategy route by allowing you to give more complex orders on an RTS-style map. Exactly how this will work in practice remains to be seen, but it's a novel idea which should make for a more tactical approach to space combat, with dozens of ships battling it out around you. HomePlanet also boasts a rather unusual flight model, using basic Newtonian physics rather than falling back on the World War II inspired dogfights of most space combat sims. As a result your ship will have two modes - cruise and acceleration - with the former presumably allowing you to rotate your ship while it continues to float along in whatever direction you were travelling in at the time, something which is sure to get any Babylon 5 fan's heart pounding. Conclusion While it might not be the most graphically spectacular space combat sim we've ever seen, HomePlanet is shaping up to be a welcome breath of fresh air for the genre. And with a May release currently on the cards we should know soon whether it can live up to that promise. In the meantime, you can view a two minute HomePlanet trailer (in Russian) on Revolt's website, and those of you going to the Milia trade show in Cannes next month can find the game on display at publisher Russobit-M's stand. - HomePlanet screenshots