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The GoodCataclysm is both an improvement and a degradation of Homeworld. The goods:
The control system. Barking Dog Studios obviously took a lesson from the feedback Relic got about Homeworld, and were quick to add lots of nifty features. They added a waypoint system (one of the most-praised aspects of the game, although I don't use it much), moved special functionality to the right mouse button (in Homeworld you have to double-click, do it too slow and you end up selecting the target ship), made the game far more compatible with multiple commands (one thing I HATED about Homeworld was giving dock orders to repair corvettes, since double-clicking on the Mothership was always interpreted as a repair command), and made it possible to view the movement orders of strike craft. The mission timer is a wonderful tool, and the in-game message system is neat as well. In Cataclysm, unlike in Homeworld, you can easily customize your screen while in-game, and you can "filter" stuff on the sensors manager.
Anything else? The graphics are a slight improvement over the original Homeworld, and the cinematic sequences are a novel feature that I have not seen in the original game (the closest thing to them in Homeworld is the Mothership launch sequence). Some of the background music is great, although the same could be said for the original.
Some of the ship ideas were interesting, notably the Mimic and Linking technology. The mutability of the Somtaaw Command Ship and the self-allocating abilities of the Beast are equally novel.
The BadThe bads:
The plot. Some people are planning to make a "Rebel Alliance vs. the Borg" mod. Enough said. I would have preferred a continuation of the original story over a digressing plot involving an assimilationist creature. The entire idea, as well as some details (the Beast "mutates" ships instead of "upgrading" them) smack of unoriginality.
The balance. Unlike Homeworld, which emphasized strategy and ship combination, Cataclysm seems focused on super-ships. The multi-beam frigate is a notable example (it can beat most ships as large as itself or smaller) of ship interactions receiving less priority than new ideas. Likewise, the final mission is entirely based on destroying two super ships, and you beat it by using a super-ship of your own (I can't say more). Compare this to Homeworld, where the final mission was a showdown between two large and diverse fleets (although, to be honest, your fleet by then is so huge that only the first wave is any trouble). In addition, the game's technological advances eventually render some ships useless. Once your enemy implements advanced sensor technology, for instance, all your Leeches and Mimics go overboard. Homeworld also had advanced sensors, but they were either limited in range or limited in sensitivity.
Another complaint is that the game, especially in single-player, is heavily geared towards micromanagement, so there are problems when going from single to multiplayer. The Mimic, although it is a very neat ship and presents some different angles from Homeworld's traditional cloaking, usually requires a menu for its special ability. Imagine the problem in carefully selecting a ship to imitate just when you need to orchestrate an attack on multiple fronts!