Well the wait is finally over. After many delays, Dune2000 has
finally arrived. A quick history lesson for all you kids who think
that Command & Conquer was where real-time strategy games
were born: back in 1992 Westwood released a game based on the
Dune books called Dune2. This game used a revolutionary new
style of play that focused on collecting resources to build units and
buildings in order to overwhelm your opponent. Thus the
real-time strategy genre was born.
It's understandable why Westwood would try to cash in on this
classic and do a remake - it's a sure sell just based on name
recognition alone. But it's a double-edged sword because they
also risk committing a travesty by "ruining a classic" and
alienating some of their oldest fans. I was expecting big things
from this game when I first heard it was in the works. I can
remember many a late night cursing my computer as I fought
against hopeless odds on the last level of Dune2 (you know what
I'm talking about if you have played that game). Needless to say
after a quick and painless install it didn't take me long to realize
that Dune2000 was NOT what I had expected.
The Dune story goes something like this: three different groups
(called "houses") compete on the planet of Dune for precious spice
(read : tiberium) which is harvested and used to build or buy units
and buildings. The planet is ruled by an emperor who decides to
settle the matter of the arguing houses by declaring a free-for-all
with the winner gaining control of the entire planet and
subsequently the spice.
A visit to Westwood's D2K site (http://www.dune2000.com) provides
a breakdown of the features of the game, so I decided to break
down their list and translate their marketing gibberish into plain
[Three distinct Houses to choose from]
How the hell do you come up with "distinct"? Yes there are three
houses to choose from but they all have the EXACT SAME UNITS
for the most part. The only difference between the houses units is
the inclusion of 1 or 2 "special units" that are unique to that
particular house. Now back in 1992 this wasn't a big deal, but it's
not 1992 anymore... WAKE UP WESTWOOD! You think people who
have played Total Annihilation, Starcraft, and Age of Empires are
going to be satisfied with the same small handful of identical
units? Having said that, the units that you CAN choose from are
easily identifiable and you will be spotting all the classics in no
time. I guess Westwood wanted to be able to put a "ALL NEW
UNITS" sticker on the box so they went ahead and added C&C's
engineer and artillery units to the mix.
[LAN and Internet multiplayer modes]
Hi, welcome to the 90's. Network play is no longer a "feature", it's
a basic part of any game, especially a RTS game. Dune2k forces
you to use Westwood chat for TCP/IP play. Of course Westwood
isn't the only company guilty of this, but that's still no excuse.
Don't they ever consider that not everyone uses IPX on their
LANs??? I wasn't able to test WChat play because D2K isn't a
"supported product" yet but based on past experience with it, I
think it's safe to say that once you go through the hassle of
downloading and registering their special chat program the
gaming should be lag-free and relatively easy.
[New game interface]
Uhhh, new to who? This is the exact same interface that's been in
every single RTS game since Dune2. Overhead map on the top
right, unit selector on the lower right, map view on the left. Same
mouse cursor and unit selection system as C&C. Nuff said.
[Completely revised graphics (16 bit high color and 8 bit for faster
On the same note as game-interface, these graphics are 100%
rehash. It's C&C Gold all over again. Even the animations of the
little soldiers shooting looks like it's been totally recycled from the
C&C series. The one thing that I did notice that had changed was
the explosions... They've added a nice glow effect that looks
pretty good. Sound is also standard C&C fare, nothing new here.
[All missions have been updated and refined with new script and
story to enhance the game]
OK, Westwood was smart to take a cue from Starcraft and put
some effort into storyline. D2K uses a similar system where you
see cutscenes between each single player mission. Instead of
Starcraft's 3D-animated scenes, they chose to go with live actors
instead. Personally, I'm not big on the cutscenes anyway - it's the
action that counts. From what I did see of the single player
storyline, it was definitely adequate but nothing to really get
[New cinematics, special effects and music]
The one feature I really liked was the new music. The tracks were
very well suited and did a great job creating atmosphere. As in
C&C, you can play the tracks anytime you want through the game
menu system. By "special effects" I can only assume they are
referring to the "3DFX-like" coloured glowing explosions and
projectiles. As I mentioned earlier, these are fairly well done and
are certainly a welcome departure from the weak explosions
(more like implosions) in C&C.
As a whole, there is nothing particularly *BAD* about Dune2000.
On the other hand, there is really nothing outstanding or
innovative about the game. This isn't 1992 anymore and the RTS
category is very competitive nowadays; you really have to do
something significant to stand out from the crowd.
Westwood, I sincerely hope you pull out all the stops for C&C2
because this effort just doesn't cut it.