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Published by:
Westwood Studios

Game Genre:
Real-Time Strategy

Game Cheats:
Not Available

Requirements:
Pentium 90, 16 Megs RAM, 4X CD-ROM,
16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, and DirectX.

Retail Price:
$36.95
Our Ratings:
Features

Graphics

Sound FX

Gameplay

Overall

Screenshots:
Dune 2000


Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
Ever wish they'd chucked the whole alternate-Earth scenario for Command and Conquer and set it someplace else? Like Arrakis? Except without all those messy details about authentic setting? Well, they have. Dune 2000 is as derivative a game as I've ever seen come down the pike. If I were a programming teacher, and one student handed in C&C and the other handed in Dune 2000, I'd flunk the Dune 2000 student for copying off the other student and file academic dishonesty charges.

Storyline:
The story is pretty basic. In a Deadlock-style scenario, the Padishah Emperor (big cheese of the known universe) has declared that the planet Arrakis (aka Dune) is to be given to the House that can prove its worthiness. Said worthiness is to be proven by prevailing over the other Houses in combat on the planet. It's a winner take all situation and you're given the choice of which House to be in charge of.

The honorable Duke Leto runs House Atreides. You have the only flying craft in the game, the nimble Ornithopter and its dreaded bombing runs. Your ace in the whole is your relationship with the Fremen, allies of your son Paul Atreides and feared desert warriors.

The vile Baron Harkonnen runs House Harkonnen. You have the heaviest tank in the game, the hard-hitting but ponderous Devastator. You ace in the hole is the Death Hand Missile which allows you to launch devastating atomic attacks from a safe distance.

House Ordos isn't run by much of anybody, as the developers just made these guys up so they'd have three sides. Of course they'd know that if they'd ever read the books, but I imagine they didn't want to get any of that yucky creativity on them. Ordos runs a lot of their military through mercenaries, giving you a seemingly strong army at first. Mercenaries have a tendency to run away when things get tough, and they fight as badly as the computer's AI (since that's who controls them) so don't trust them. You have two aces in the hole. The first is the Deviator - a tank that fires confusion gas, turning the enemy against themselves. The second is the saboteur - a special ops unit that can destroy a building just by entering it.

In the background the Emperor lurks, legions of the near-mythical Sardaukar waiting to tip the balance in his favor. What could the Emperor have planned, with the fate of Dune, most important planet in his empire, in the balance? His power depends on his ability to keep the Spice flowing.

Dune itself is a desert planet. Miles upon endless miles of merciless sand stretch before the would-be conqueror. The sands shift so frequently that construction is only possible upon a single large expanse of rock surface, surrounded by high cliffs to keep the scouring winds at bay. The Emperor finds safe haven behind the Harkonnen Shield wall certain that no vehicle can stand the desert, any human scale the cliffs; no aircraft survive a Dune sandstorm. And there are always the worms.

Of course, none of this is in the game. In the game rock outcroppings are pretty frequent. They're the only place you can build bases. A frequent occurrence is laying down concrete (to help withstand the weather you'll never see) and putting various building on top. Laying concrete in just the right pattern and organizing buildings can be a challenge. It can really stink to run out of space when you need that Ixian research center.

Sound FX:
One of Dune's main highlights is the Sound FX, the Acting in the FMV, is some of the best I've seen. Mixed in with some familiar faces from older movies. The story line fits and makes sense. Thanks again to that excellent acting. The regular in game sounds is pretty good as well. Decent Explosions and laser sounds. As for the Musical Score, it was kind of slow and dramatic; it did a fairly good job of setting the tone for the game.

In between the rock outcropping lies sand, Spice and worms. Sand is pretty much a beige carpet. Spice is collected by Harvesters and forms the basis for the construction portion of the game. It's pretty much just those crystal things from C&C, all over again. Worms are these huge worms that prowl around under the sand, looking for rhythmic vibrations. They're huge and can eat entire city blocks for lunch (actually, the game does the unbelievable and makes the worms look like teeny earthworms. I'd have never believed it unless I'd seen it with my own two eyes). They're out on the prowl for Harvesters to eat.

And also hand around battle scenes looking for appetizers. Having a Harvester eaten by a worm can put a serious dent in you cash flow. It's worth having a Carryall or two around to make emergency pickups.

If you've ever played C&C you already know all the good parts (and the bad parts) of Dune 2000. Since I figure most of my audience has, I'll make my comments about actual mechanics brief. There are a couple of bright spots that should be pointed out, and I'll give the game its due.

Dune 2000 follows pretty much the standard C&C model - get a bunch of resources, build a bunch of stuff, and send it all in a giant rush. Make sure you've got enough power to drive all your buildings. There's not a whole lot in the way of tactics here. Just buy tanks and overwhelm the other guy.

Gameplay:
The game itself is fun to play. C&C-style controls are easy and fun to use, action is fluid, graphics are about average, and the entire experience is enjoyable. The interface allows many adjustments to things like game speed and difficulty level. It's easy to tell units apart, to judge terrain, situational awareness is good, unit control is adequate (although there are no formations), and units generally act like you'd imagine they would. The retreat key is particularly handy.

Overall:
The basic problem is that Dune 2000 has nothing to do with Dune. I'd just re-read the book and watched the 4-hour version of the movie (another point for the game - it has better acting than the movie, and makes more sense). The universe of the Dune series is perhaps the richest one out there, and I'd hoped to get some deeper feeling for it from the game. It was very disappointing to find C&C-Dune Alert inside the box.


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