Dune 2K

Yes, those two eyes are looking at you, and yes, it is the icon for Dune 2000, and no, they did not get it from the Mona Lisa.

Here's the box hype for the game:

Dune 2000 is a real-time strategy game that requires gallant leadership, cunning tactics and formidable military prowess to win the Emperor's challenge: Be the first to harvest the most spice and take control of Dune.

Three Houses have arrived to claim the prize: The honorable House Atreides, the insidious House Ordos, and the vicious House Harkonnen.

Whichever House you choose to lead, remember­the balance between power and efficiency will lead you to victory. Wage successful strikes to interrupt your opponents Spice production, while protecting your own.

But beware, the untamed desert holds challenges beyond that of your enemies. Giant sandworms can devour your army with little warning, greedy merchants of CHOAM will plan to interrupt your Spice production, and the back-stabbing Emperor may provide aid to a House that is not yours.

Sure sounds spiffy doesn't it? Most box hype try to make their own products look very good, and Dune 2000 was not an exception. What I found in the game, while playing, however, was that it was just another RTS clone. Westwood released Dune quite a long time ago, before the days of Command & Conquer (also by Westwood) and the Warcraft series. It was before Real Time Strategy became THE HIT for computer gaming. Following Dune on its heels is Dune 2, released sometime during 1993, I believe, althought there is a good chance I'm wrong. Anyways, Dune 2 proceeded to sweep the gaming crowd off its feet and immediately gathered a large fanbase. Many RTS "clones" were developed, and all used the basic framework structured in Dune 2. The few that were successful became the best known games for the computer, such as Warcraft, Warcraft II, Command & Conquer, Red Alert, and recently, Total Annihilation, and Starcraft. Althought that may seem like a lot of titles, numerous failed to achieve the glory those games received, and died trying. Now, with the glory years of Dune behind, Westwood attempts to re-create the magic, with an updated game engine borrowed from Red Alert. This is by no means a cutting-edge graphics game, instead merely a tribute to the fans of Dune 2 that have been begging Westwood for a remake since Command & Conquer.

I ran into a little problem when I fired up the game. It seemed to freeze my mouse in place, and I wouldn't be able to move it, thus forcing me to swap out and restart Windows. It was not until I got an updated driver for my mouse that Dune 2000 worked. The game includes new cinematics and musical score while you are in a mission. The layout is simple, very similar to Command & Conquer, such as the Mobile Construction Unit, refineries, and Silos. Using the mouse was a piece of cake, since unlike Dominion where there were 17 billion different functions, Dune 2000 lays it out very simply with one button doing virtually every movement. If you want to move your unit here, click on the unit with the button, and click on the destination with the same button, and if an enemy is nearby, click on the enemy with the button and the unit attacks. If you are even remotely familiar with military/modern day RTS games, Dune 2000 should provide a very lenient learning curve. In addition to the familiar structures / units, Dune 2000 adds three distinct houses to choose from, the Atreides, Ordos, and Harkonnen. Most of the time during the missions you fight each other, but 3rd party nuiscances are present in the game, such as the giant sandworm, which, when I played, ate two of my spice-carrying truck and a raider... very bothersome indeed. The story moves along fluidly, and you can always chose the mission you would like to go through, by a map interface. Most of the missions are similar to Command & Conquer, such as "collect X amount of spice" or "eradicate enemy presence". Character animations are not ground-breaking, but very solid, and sound effects & music are also very solid. Multiplayer is also present, via modem, LAN, and internet (similar to Blizzard's Battle.net).

All in all, Dune 2000, even though it is just another RTS clone, it is proved to be a very solid clone. No particular area in the game that was very ground-breaking, and the graphics are well designed. If you are a Command & Conquer fan, you might decide to try this one out. It should provide you with plenty of hours of fun, single player or multi player.

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