Dune 2: The Building of a Dinasty
AKA Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis, it’s for sure one of the most popular Real Time Strategy games. It’s the first pure RTS (as we know the genre) but the simplicity made it fun and interesting.
- The gameplay is simple and a bit slow (for an RTS) but it does a good job on engaging.
- Building concrete slab adds a “rush but lose money on repairs” or “go slow but save money” choice, which is nice when you unlock 2x2.
- The game ambient, loosely based on Dune universe (particularly on David Lynch’s film), is very cool.
- The ambience music is very good and it’s situational (attack vs quiet).
- There are three great houses (instead of just two).
- It’s a easy game to get into (Command&Conquer is harder), difficulty curve is ok.
- Carry-all unit help babysitting damaged units, which is amazing. Also speeds up harvester’s return, good too.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad game at all. But it’s a classic game and, because of that, there are many limitations and flaws.
- There is very little mission variety. Two get spice missions, the rest just destroy all enemy buildings (turrets and walls don’t count).
- Story is a bit simple and isn’t following the Cryo’s Dune story.
- Campaign isn’t very replayable. Few FMVs.
- The enemy attacks are mostly lame. Only ornithopters are a threat, during later missions, unless you prepare your base accordingly with many r-turrets.
- AI isn’t good on either defending or attacking. Also it cheats (unlimited money, see all map, build unconnected) to improve its otherwise low survivability.
- Sonic tanks range depends on Game speed.
- No unit group movement.
- Unit balance could be better.
- The Ordos great house isn’t canon.
- Starport can bypass unit limits, which is great but also easy to abuse.
- Lack of custom maps/scenarios.
Why to play?
Because it’s a RTS and because it’s Dune.
How to acquire
I don’t think this game is actually sold, probably because of the strict Dune IP license. Also, Westwood studios is dead so that may play a role too. So you’d need to search of abandoned software websites. Just try to get a patched game.
It’s fun they’re so strict with the IP and still they messed it so much with Frank Herber’ts Dune.
Version / Platform
I’m reviewing the patched game up to version 1.7, which is mostly bugless and slightly harder (which is good). Older versions are fine too.
There are many fan-made remakes. Those make good use of the sprites but they may lack other sound effects or music. Also, they improve the interface (so you can group select like in C&C). Even if those changes are nice, I’d only recommend them after you play or try the original game:
- Dune Legacy: it tries to emulate original game while improving the interface.
- Dune IV: there is a custom campaign, so try it if you look for new missions for Dune 2.
As I mentioned, this is a strange IP: it’s very popular but it’s hard to see anything new about it (other than books). Anyways, I don’t think there is going to be new Dune games coming soon. There will be a new film on 2020, which is good news… probably.
At least, there are other Dune RTS games like Dune 2000 or Emperor: Battle for Dune. Those are very nice games.
Games like Dune 2
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Amazing RTS, with better missions and videos than Dune 2.
- Warcraft Orcs & Humans. If you enjoy Dune 2, this is a good alternative. Another old time classic, with fantasy theme and great story/lore.
- Warcraft 2. A fun and balanced RTS game.
- Starcraft. Sci-fi theme and excellent multi-player.
- Tzar. Unknown but good fantasy RTS game.
Other RTS games:
- Age of empires 2. Probably the most popular RTS out there.
- Empire Earth. A rought jewel. Fun to play.
- Settlers 2. A nice mix between city building, resource management tycoon and RTS.
- Warcraft 3. Ingame cinematics and a powerful scenario editor made this a great game… particularly because of the thousands of custom made maps that can be downloaded when playing on internet.
Yet another classic game thrown into review. It may be old and the interface is bad, but still Dune 2 was a popular game and the proof is there are lots of open source remakes.
- Infantry units aren’t too useful because lack of mountain on scenarios and low firepower.
- Trike/quads are just useful to scouting and still rocket launchers do a better job because of vision range.
- Deviators are just disruptive but not too useful, sonic tanks and devastators do a better job.