"You will die on this planet. We have seen it," is the prediction that comes from the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood as the game, based on the epic novel, begins. Instead of sure death, it is more likely that players will just get addicted to the game.
Missions can be played from the perspective of three races, the noble Atreides, the insidious Ordos, or the treacherous Harkonnen. The main objective is harvesting the rare spice and gaining favor with the Emperor while eliminating the other races.
Dune 2000 is an update of one of the original real-time strategy games, Dune 2, and has spawned many a whole genre. In each mission, players must build up a base and work to eliminate the other powers. The update has also added Command & Conquer style missions including capturing space ports, rescuing captures units, and other extras assignments to keep the game interesting.
In many ways Dune 2000 is more of an update. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been greatly improved, new units have been added, and the game flows better. Scenes to heighten and embellish the story include performances from live actors like John Rhys Davies and the in-game graphics have been updated and improved while the game should remain true to fans of the series and game genre.
Where the game play does suffer is in the setting. Because the battle is on this desert planet, all the missions seem quite similar. There are no rivers, no woods, just endless screens of tan-colored sand. But for fans of the original game, or those who like a real-time challenge, Dune 2000 is an instant classic.
Graphics: It is all desert!
Sound: Redundant but good.
Enjoyment: Real-time gaming like it should be played.
Replay Value: Three sides to play and lots of missions!
Dune 2000 is one of several games based on the Dune series of books by Frank Herbert; the basis of the story is that the most valuable substance in the galaxy is known as the spice, which can only be found on the planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. Whoever controls the spice controls the fate of the whole galaxy! The game itself is a remake of Dune II, also made by Westwood Studios, whom you may remember from the Command & Conquer series. The latter series has a great influence on this remake, with various game mechanics and the control system being very noticeably the same.
The concept is fairly simple, as with most RTS games: You begin by choosing your side between one of the three main houses - Atreides, Harkonnen, or Ordos. The story and missions are different with each house, so it does give you a certain amount of replayability which is always welcome. Each house has different strengths and weaknesses, with Harkonnen units often being stronger but slower than the Atreides equivalents, for example. The emperor announces that whoever produces the most spice will gain control of Dune, and to win this contest you will need to drive out your competitors. The missions mostly consist of gathering spice (which doubles as your money supply), and fighting the other houses, much the same as you would in Command & Conquer or in similar RTS games.
Each mission is introduced by a mixture of live-action and CGI scenes, with the same quality as you may be used to from other Westwood Studios titles. There is also a notable appearance by John Rhys-Davies, as the House Atreides advisor. Music is provided by a long-time Westwood Studios collaborator, Frank Klepacki, and the music is good, if perhaps not as memorable as some of his other work.
The game itself allows a choice of difficulty levels, so players new to the genre shouldn't be put off, as the Easy mode is exactly that on the first few levels. For those in need of a challenge, the normal and hard modes should provide a bit more difficulty. The strategic challenges are a little on the weak side, and overpowering your enemy with superior numbers is often the quickest route to victory. Whilst the various units have their strengths and weaknesses, in reality quite often the use of only one or two unit types is more than enough for many of the missions.
In the missions, the usual course of action is to build a base on the rocky parts of the map. You cannot build on sand, and in order to prevent your buildings from being damaged, it is best to first lay a concrete foundation. Once you have your base and are harvesting the spice, it's time to explore the map. When first in an area, the parts of the map unseen by your troops will be covered in a black shroud. By scouting ahead with your units, you can clear this from the map and allow yourself to see what your enemies are up to.
A constant threat to your vehicles (and usually your harvester) is the sand worm. These giant creatures travel through the sands of Dune and can consume large vehicles in a single gulp. When signs of the worm approaching are seen, it is best for your vehicles to find safety on the rocks and wait for it to pass you by.
In general, this is an enjoyable strategy experience, raised above other RTS games of its time by the setting and colorful art direction of the Dune universe. For many, this will be an exercise in nostalgia, and in that you will not be disappointed. Dune fans may also enjoy this, especially if you're a fan of the 1984 film, the style of which is mimicked in the cutscenes. However, hardcore strategy fans may wish to try something with a bit more depth to it.
People who downloaded Dune 2000 have also downloaded:
Emperor: Battle for Dune, Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis, Dune, Dune 2, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Warcraft 2, Command & Conquer, Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
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