This is not a new game, I picked the thing up for $5.99 at BigLots in Maine. Since I have a pokey PC for internet, I thought it might be good for a laugh. It was certainly worth the price of admission, providing me with a few hours of enjoyment while I waited to have access to the “real” machine. How any could even think of paying full price for the game is beyond me.
It is clearly dated and one wonders if it was not at the time. It has all those RTS quirks, including idiot AI functions and illogical behaviour of units. Quite often units stand around clueless as the other side of their base is flattened. At times, your forces stand around while getting attacked, if you have not set them to guard. Your spice (resource d’game) machine will head off into the middle of enemy territory even though there a decent amount a stone’s through away from your base. Oh yes and this game is pre-rally points, so units stand around gormless outside their spawn point oblivious to all around you.
There is not much variety between units or missions. Not much of an advantage one over an other. The cut-scenes especially the ones with John Rhys-Davies, of Indiana Jones fame, for the House of Atreides are rather good. It is clear the house that the designers are expecting you to play. Your Harkonnen over-seer is about as camp as they come, prancing about like a Rocky Horror cast member. Ordos’ minder is very mechanical and so has a bit of Stephen Hawking about him. The cut-scenes are amusing and quite frankly one of the highlights of the game.
As with many RTS games of the era, you mostly watch sprites, vaguely resembling the figures in the docs running around about the place. Most levels are based on mining as much spice as you can (think gold) and then amassing as many troops as possible before obliterating your enemy. Nothing wrong with that but the game is a bit simplistic and really does not do the Dune legacy much credibility.
Having said that if you can get the game used or as cheap as possible it is a good laugh on a slow laptop when you are bored. It reminds us all of how far RTS has really come in the last 5 years. A comparison of C&C Generals or Age of Empires II with those would completely unfair. It is amazing the crap we put up with back in the day. But hey, not everyone has a bleeding edge laptop, and the requirements for Dune are certainly low, running on a Pentium with 32 mb RAM no problem. It doesn’t need much drive space either.
A nice diversion but I wouldn’t want to spend too much time here.
Rating: 2.5 (.5 for value)