Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dune 2000 (1999)

Genre: Real-time Strategy (RTS)  |  Players: 1 or Multi (link)  |  Developer: Westwood Studios / Intelligent Games

NOTE: I'll mention the PC version (1998) briefly at the end, but I want to cover the PS1 port in some detail because console versions of RTS games are often frowned upon by PC aficionados and I feel that the PS1 version deserves actual praise.

Dune 2000 is a remake/update of Dune II: Battle for Arrakis (1992), originally developed by Westwood Studios, creators of Command and Conquer. Dune was first, though, so in a way it's Westwood's RTS granddaddy. (Wiki states that II was based on David Lynch's filmed version (1984) of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel Dune (1965), but you can make the transition to 2000 from the novel without needing to have seen the film, and vice-versa.)

You first choose an allegiance to one of three Great Houses: the 'noble' Atreides, the 'evil' Harkonnen, or the 'insidious' Ordos. Each campaign has ten missions, so that's thirty in all if you decide to replay as the others afterwards. Most missions will have you trying desperately to utterly obliterate the enemy or enemies and/or take control of their resources. It's far from easy.

Time will be split between fortifying your base and building an invading army. All of that costs money, and like the real world you make more money by having a stock sum to begin with. Money is attained by spice mining, so at least one harvester is essential - more if you can afford it because there are worms!

With money being tight, you'll be forced to choose what's best to build while mitigating the damage taken from the attacking enemy forces. If your forces drop below a certain level then coming back is almost impossible and it’s the slow death for you. You may just as well walk into a coriolis storm.

The DualShock does a decent job of translating the actions of a PC mouse. Both sticks move the camera over the entirety of the map while the four face buttons perform other important functions. Jumping into and out of the sidebar menu is achieved by a simple button-press. While there the left stick becomes your means of selecting what to build or upgrade. What's beneficial about the set-up is that while in the menu the right stick is then able to move the camera, effectively letting you attend to two tasks at once. You can even assign the face buttons to specific troops (up to four legions) for quick selections on the field.

Before I end I have to mention the live-action cut scenes—they're obviously green-screen, but they add much to the experience—and the excellent music that oozes the perfect atmosphere. What's more, with it being a PS1 disc you can pop it into your PC drive and play the music without needing to boot up the game!

4 deadly spice blows out of 5

The PC version will of course provide the ultimate Dune 2000 experience. Consider the GruntMods Edition. It has higher textures, supports HD up to 1080p and will run flawlessly on most Windows platforms and on Mac. The game speed can be tweaked and you can even design your own levels. Hooray for mods.

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