Note to the readers: The point of this review, as opposed to the review by
Dtoxr, Prolix and Ned is to present Dune 2000
in the view of two original Duners, people who look at this game not from the
point of view of how it compares to Red Alert or Total Annihilation, but how
it plays as a Dune. If you wish to acquaint yourself with the point of view
of people who look it from the contemporary gaming theory, please click on
the link above to be taken there. The reviews below represent somewhat more
of a nostalgic outlook on it. - Pseudo Nim, Jackal
By: Pseudo Nim
'Dune. The land of sand... home of the Spice Melange'. You've
most definitely heard of Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty,
released back in 1992 by Westwood (unless you've been living in a
trailer park and using smoke signals to communicate with the
world). The infamous ancestor of all RTS games, Dune II: The
Building of a Dynasty has recently been recreated by Westwood...
and it's a really mixed bag.
Much can be said for and against the new Dune, but one thing's for
sure - it, unfortunately, is not the same ground-breaking game as
Dune II was. Many things in Dune 2000 are straight derivations
from the Command and Conquer series (for those of you who'll
argue C&C is a Dune ripoff, you're right - but so much more shame
for ripping off a ripoff). However, there's much more to it than
might seem from the first impression.
The concept is the same as that of Dune II. You control one of the
three Houses that came to fight for the Spice on Dune - House
Ordos, House Atreides, or House Harkonnen. The choice of
weaponry is rather similar between all the houses with a few
subtle differences. The insidious Ordos, helped by the smugglers,
mercenaries and other for-profit organizations, posess the Raider
Trike, which is a vastly improved version of the normal Trike. They
also have the evil Deviator, that is a sample of banned, illegal
biological weaponry provided by the friendly grey-area
marketeers. Its action is to psychologically afftect the targeted unit
and let you gain control of it for a certain amount of time. The
Harkonnen are a heavily domination-and-destruction-tilted House,
with the weapon power far exceeding that of the other houses -
and they have the Elite Troopers, the Sardaukar, and the
Devastator Tank to prove that. And the Atreides ... the Atreides is
the only House in the game to possess the Ornithopter (heretoforth
referred to as the 'Thopter), which is the only flying offensive unit
in the game. The Atreides also have the Sonic Tank - a tank that
emits a high-amplitude sound wave which shatters armor and
There are more interesting units, one of which is the Carryall.
Contrary to the name, it doesn't 'carry ALL' - you can't transport
arbirtary units to arbitrary locations, however, you can use them to
transport Harvesters to and from the spice fields, as well as pick up
units that are to be repaired. Given that they travel by air, it's a
truly great companion to the Harvester, since they're just about
indestructible from ground and travel at very high speeds.
On the complaint side, I find the game was somewhat 'dumbed
down' from the original. For example, no longer can you build the
Heavy Troopers on the Harkonnen side; no longer do you have the
different building names for different Houses (or specialized
buildings, such as the Wor for the Harkonnen Heavy Troopers).
Also, the buildings no longer get damaged by wind and the
environmental factors - you're no longer forced to check on your
base every five minutes to see if a light infantry unit can take it out
in one shot. And on the cosmetic side, I find the Quads look a
slight bit too small compared to the Trikes and the general infantry
units, and dammit, what did the Westwood people do to the
original cute-looking Harvester?! It looks like a damn ... harvester
now! It used to look like some sort of cute insect before, though,
befriending you and making you want to protect it from the enemy.
The gameplay in the game is great. Though some may complain
about the graphics or lack of difference of units, I believe that's a
high point for the game in this case, given a) the historical values
and b) the simplicity of play. No longer do you have to experiment
with Templars to see how many Zerglings can eat it alive, or with
Stealth Bombers to see how many of them you need to take out a
Plasma Cannon - provided you played the original, you're set to
go. And the graphics... they just match the style of gameplay.
You're not on some lush green landscape, or on some ice-covered
obscure planet - you are on Dune - The Land of Spice, and the
sandy look and feel is but one of its properties. Were you playing a
game with a North Pole setting, would you complain that there
were no lush green landscapes with critters jumping around,
chirping and trying to bite your leg off? Didn't think so.
The missions are very thoughtfully designed. Although parallels
can be drawn between the three Houses' paths to power, the
challenges are different and the conditions of victory are different.
The AI is a bit lacking, though - too often did I find myself swearing
at the dumbness of the Combat Tanks that'd go around to the front
entrance, which is usuually well-protected - rather than waiting for
my 200 units to go through the narrow passageway that I opened
up in the back. A neat feature is, though, that you can select many
units at the same time. And by many I mean many - so
many in fact, that I didn't see a limit yet, and I'm absolutely sure I
had at least 60+ selected at a time. And it's not slow, either - on my
P200 the speed's just right.
A few disappointments to mention, when drawing parallels to the
original, which I'm sure some people would find to be pluses
instead, and some people wouldn't even notice. One is the
interface: it's 100% derived from the C&C games. That doesn't feel
right... I want the old status bar that would tell you what was
happening; I don't want the Construction Yard toolbar to be
available (I still prefer the old way), and, most of all, I don't want
the Power Meter - I'd rather appreciate being able to click on the
Windtraps to get the accurate output/used reading from it directly.
I understand that the C&C interface is a trend, but, in a way, it's
similar to a console Unixer who just doesn't want a GUI - he loves
his command prompt, and so I love the old style of Dune. I'm sure
it wouldn't have been too hard for Westwood to have a menu
option to switch interfaces... oh well.
On the sound note, it's a mixed bag as well. The music is
incredible - while being somewhat quiet it has this epic feel to it,
and somehow adds to the atmosphere of the game. However, the
speech, at least that of the House Ordos, is simply appalling. The
speaker has a British accent, which is usually a great asset, since
it's stereotyped as either a speaker of the aristocracy or a speaker
that possesses high power - but it has been completely screwed up
in Dune 2000. The voices sound like they're coming from a well -
and like the person talking has a metal bucket over his head. Not
only that, but an echo/noise effect has been added to them in
SoundForge. Result? Totally metal voices, without any life or
emotion to them whatsoever, and sounding like, well, voices from
a well covered with a metal bucket. The other houses are
somewhat better, at least.
Some more differences with the original (I keep jumping from this
topic to general description and back to this topic): you can no
longer select sandworms to see how much you've damaged them.
They're still destructible - but you don't know how close you are to
killing one. and it doesn't give you much benefit to kill one, either -
as another will come in a few minutes from the neighboring war
A word has to be said about videos. It seems that the tradition of
Westwood has become to, no matter what the gameplay is like, to
spice up the game with incredible cinematics (Blade Runner,
anyone?). It stays true for Dune 2000 - the videos are filmed, with
just the right balance of acting and computer animation. The
acting isn't bad; however, I didn't find it to be the film-quality
acting of the Wing Commander cast. It is, however, worlds beyond
the Crusader acting, which remains, so far, the absolute worst
acting I've ever seen (in a game that I totally adore, that is - I'm
sure there are lots of budget titles with crappy cinematics
and crappy gameplay). And the intro... it's the original,
great intro redone using fancy computer graphics and spiced up
with artistic-sounding voice acting... which absolutely broke it for
me. The voices in Dune speak much too fast, without paying due
respect to the graveness of the story, without pausing at statements
that should raise thoughts, fears, anger, sadness, happiness, joy -
all that is absent, as the only real feeling you get from the videos is
that the actor wants to get his speech over with. On the other
hand, even the original Dune's speech sounded with a PC speaker
(read: off), especially in the intro, where the only way to hear the
beautiful intro music was to switch to PC speaker mode.
It's hard to rate Dune 2000. More so, given this is not a review per se,
no rating is attributed to it - some people would rate it at 40, some at
one star, some would give it a 90, some five stars, and there'll be zillions
of reviews in between (all according to the almighty Bell Curve). I
believe it's a mid-80%'s game, but then again, I might have some personal
bias towards it. It's a
great Dune follower, but it's not an amazing technology breaker
like the original was. It has its fortes, it has its weaknesses - for
example, the whole C&C interface idea really saddened me. On
the other hand, I don't know if the idea of Westwood was to create
something groundbreaking or just to create something with
nostalgic value, or just a usual cash-in, which wouldn't be too
much unlike Westwood, given the long line of C&C games.
The technology breaker will, most likely, be C&C2, but... I still
believe that Dune 2000 is a great game, given the fact that it's a
Dune. Period. For the kiddies who want the flashbang graphics,
Aureal 3D sound, 3Dfx-accelerated tanks, and colored lighting, go
look elsewhere - this belongs to the category of games which you
play out of plain love and respect to the series. And in that respect,
Dune 2000 most definitely succeeds.
Dune 2000: Is it worth your while?
Ned's answer: no. That's a reasonable response, Ned raises some
pretty good points against Dune. It offers nothing new in
gameplay or game engine. The graphics are good, if this were
1997, but they look dated out of the box. The sound is adequate,
but nothing special. There are already a pile of clone and
conquer games out there, so why add another to the heap,
especially since seemingly has nothing new to offer? All true. Yet
I say there is value in Dune 2000. It may seem derivative, but that
is only because it is a remake of the proto-typical RTS game.
When Westwood produced Command and Conquer, which I'm
sure was, for most of you, your first real time strategy (RTS) game,
it was originally going to be Dune III, but it was decided early on
in development that there wasn't enough to the dune franchise to
warrant the game, not when C&C could potentially be a more
mainstream product. So what did Westwood do? They took the
basic game design, and added the Dune II wishlist- multiplayer,
bigger armies, more units, more maps, better graphics and sound.
And they had a hit, C&C, as we all know.
Dune II was a great game, for its day. It is also the first real RTS
game out there. Imagine all the fun you've ever had, playing RTS,
in a single package - well, that was it back then. Some of us
played it to death, much to the detriment of real life, which had to
take a back seat. Some of us learned all the nuances of the game,
the way the music would pick up in intensity just before a big
attack came down on you, how to kill a harvester or tank with just
a single rifleman, how to sneak and divert the enemy forces, how
Following the success for C&C the industry responded with clones.
Every publisher had to get a product out in this new genre, and
much crap was produced. Some of us, the early adopters of RTS,
became somewhat jaded, and refused to get fully on board the
RTS bandwagon, just as many of you have now hopped off.
While I haven't played Dune II for a few years now, it did stay on
my hard drive for at least three years, which puts it up there with
other classics, like Railroad Tycoon and Civilization. Classics can
be dated and still be fun.
Whatever Westwood's thinking, and Ned is probably right, I expect
this is a quick cash grab since they had a now redundant engine in
Red Alert sitting on the shelf, Westwood has hit a certain niche
with Dune 2000. Dune 2000 answers most of my complaints with
Dune II. It has multiplayer, the starports work correctly, the screen
is larger, the army/base size is unlimited. Give me the same old
game, the fixes above, and suddenly I'm a happy guy.
There is much that is unchanged - thankfully; and most of the
changes are positive. The game itself is, for the most part, the
same. The level maps are pretty much the same, the strategic
map is unchanged. The units, the buildings, their characteristics
are all the same. I'm glad Westwood resisted the temptation to
add new units, if they had done so, they would have robbed Dune
2000 of it's raison d'Ítre - to be what Dune II should have been.
The music quality is better, but the composition has suffered. I
was happy to hear some of the original music re-scored but there
isn't enough of it. The new music lacks the intensity of Dune II,
and music really is part of the Dune 2 experience. When battles
occurs, the music would pick up, during a lull, the music softens.
Dune 2000 fails to do this - what a shame.
If you are looking for a cutting edge gaming experience, with wiz
bang graphics and sound, new gaming concepts, new things to do,
this is absolutely not the game for you. It has nothing to offer that
has not been done to death already.
If however, you are looking for a bit of nostalgia or are curious to
see what started the RTS gaming trend, check this out. It certainly
is not worth the shelf price, but it's worth your while to give it a try.
I welcome your comments.