Homeworld’s rebirth begins

Borderlands and République find new audiences through remasters

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      Some great games are finding their way to new audiences thanks to recent remasters, which put the titles on new systems. Take, for example, the Homeworld franchise.

      Originally developed by Vancouver’s Relic Entertainment, the Homeworld series is being rejuvenated by Gearbox Software. The developer acquired the rights to the franchise during THQ’s bankruptcy (while Sega bought Relic).

      At the same time, Blackbird Interactive was working on Hardware: Shipbreakers. Blackbird was formed by Rob Cunningham and Aaron Kambeitz, both of whom were part of the group that founded Relic and worked on the Homeworld games. Their new game was a space-based real-time strategy game that was, in essence, a spiritual successor to the Homeworld series, which had been idling.

      Not long after landing the franchise, Gearbox an­­­­nounced that it had signed a deal with Blackbird to turn Hardware into a proper Homeworld game. While no time line for Shipbreakers has been announced, Gearbox has started the rebirth of Homeworld by remastering Homeworld 1 and 2, and releasing them, along with their classic versions, for Windows, in a package called Homeworld Remastered Collection (rated everyone 10+).

      Also from Gearbox are PS4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands 2, one of the best games of the previous console generation. Published by 2K Games, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (rated mature) includes Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, and all downloadable content for the two games. Gamers can play local co-op with four-player split-screen. And saves from PS3 and Xbox 360 can be imported to PS4 and Xbox One, respectively.

      Another game getting a chance to find a new audience is République (Camouflaj), originally developed as a mobile-game serial and now remastered and available for Windows. In a surveillance-state, players become Hope, a teenager in an indoctrination centre who’s part of a resistance movement. She uses the ever-present cameras to navigate through the facility, called Metamorphosis, avoiding the Overseer and his guards. It’s a compelling exploration of totalitarianism, privacy, and censorship.

      Here’s a look at some other games on shelves now.

      Battlefield Hardline (Electronic Arts; PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows; rated mature)

      Battlefield Hardline is presented as if it were a TV series with 10 episodes.

      Titles within the Battlefield series of video games created by DICE in Stockholm, Sweden, are first-person shooters anchored in a military context. Until now. Coming from Visceral Games, Hardline shifts to domestic policing set in Miami. The single-player story mode is presented as if it were a TV series, with 10 distinct episodes. As vice detective Nick Mendoza, you’ll be able to operate differently from a soldier, using stealth and your badge for nonlethal takedowns. What hasn’t changed in Hardline is the Battlefield focus on multiplayer gaming: groups of players turn the city streets into a battle zone.

      The Order: 1886 (Sony; PS4; rated mature)

      Not as short as some have suggested but certainly not an endless, epic experience, The Order: 1886 is a dynamic adventure game that delivers on the promise of an interesting world populated by characters that at least try to stretch cliché. Ready at Dawn led the development of this game, which was designed to showcase some of the strengths of Sony’s PS4 console. Visually, it’s stunning. And the plot, which mashes up a steampunk Victorian England with characters like Nikola Tesla and the Knights of the Round Table with werewolves, is quite the accomplishment. Some of the action gets a bit tedious, and the timed button presses are a tired mechanic, but for a straightforward romp, The Order gets at least a passing grade.

      Ori and the Blind Forest (Microsoft; Xbox One, Windows; rated everyone)

      Don’t let the cute, cartoony artwork in this game deceive you. Ori and the Blind Forest is not a happy game. The platformer, from indie developer Moon Studios, is filled with melancholy. It begins, in true Bambi style, by orphaning the title character. The story is likewise emotionally manipulative, and your job, as Ori, is to bring light back to the environment—by running and jumping, yes, but also by defeating the creatures of the dark. The maps are designed so you’ll retrace your steps as Ori accumulates more abilities, and because the game only saves your progress when you want and when the power to do so has regenerated, you’ll need to be strategic with your saves.