March 11, 2011

PC Games - Dune

The Dune series has been one with many ups and downs throughout the years. There's no denying that the books were successful, but what about the Dune Games ?
When gamers talk about Dune they probably are talking about Dune II, a game by Westwood Studios who revolutionized (and for many, created) RTS as we know it today.
Harvesting resources, real time control of your units, building structures and crushing your opponents in campaigns with missions of progressive difficulty.

However, this surge of popularity for Dune RTS games overshadowed the original Dune, a game I would define as a mix between turn-based strategy and point 'n click adventure.

So today, in order to make justice and pay tribute to this classic, I give you the review of Dune.

Developed by: Cryo Interactive

Many of you are already familiar with the basic premise. In essence, it's exactly like in the first book, and also like in the 1984 Movie of the same name.
Baron Harkonnen... one fat badass mofo
You are Paul Atreides, the son of duke Leto Atreides, ruler of House Atreides. You are tasked by your father to collect spice for the Emperor Shaddam IV, ruler of the known universe, from the planet Arrakis ( It being the only source of spice in the known universe). Not everything is as easy as it seems though.. the House Harkonnen, sworn enemies of the Atreides, led by the evil Baron Harkonnen, already have control of a good portion of the planet.
Spice Melange is a substance known to enhance conciousness.. but it's main usage is to create Spice Gas, which allows spaceships to travel any distance almost instantaneously. This makes spice the most valuable substance in the universe.

Throughout your journey, you'll be assisted by several people (most of them also appeared in the movie) like your mentor Gurney Halleck, and the Atreides Mentat Thufir Hawat.

Dune plays out, at first, just like a point 'n click adventure game would. You can move using the arrow keys or your mouse, and you talk to people by clicking on them.
At first, you'll be tasked to do minor things, like contacting the Fremen (natives of Arrakis), and arranging the extraction of spice. Along the way though, things will get much more complicated and interesting.
To do so, you have an Ornicopter at your disposal, which you can use to travel the sands of Arrakis to find Fremen 'Sietchs' (kinda like cave houses). Once found, you can try to persuade the tribe leaders to join your cause and assist you on different matters, like taking care of Spice harvesting, or training their men to fight against the Harkonnen.

Supervizing the operation on Dune is your everday job
You may think that everything is easy, but once you're in a comfort zone, the game will make you face new and harder challenges. One of them being that the Emperor Shaddam IV will demand periodic shipments of Spice. At first, he'll suffice with a few hundred kilograms of it. But soon enough he'll be demanding tons of it, and unless your Fremen forces are well equipped and organized, you'll fail to meet his demands.

After a few hours of playing you'll realize that the game is more about strategic macromanagement rather than point n' clicking.
You'll gain psychic abilities which will allow you to contact Fremen forces from a distance.. and boy, you'll need it. When you have 12+ Fremen Forces tasked with different things, and all of them need something from you (like providing them with Harversters, supplying them with weapons, giving them Ornis to prevent harvesters being devoured by worms, etc)

Not bad at all for a 1992 game
Graphicwise, it looks great. Sure, it's a 1992 game.. so in our eyes it looks awfully dated. Yet, the animations are really good and many things (like the pseudo-realtime travelling of the desert) were cutting-edge at the time. Think about other games released at the time: Mortal Kombat 1, Wolfenstein 3D? They look like crap compared to this.

The music is fitting. The tune used for Orni travelling is quite catchy, but after hearing it for 10 hours it grows old. I feel Dune is quite lacking in the Sound Effects department though, with only the occasional effect being thrown out here and there.

The Replay factor is sadly missing here. Not much to do in the game after you've beaten it.. but then again, what game had ANY replay factor in 1992?

Still...Dune is a good game. Yet, the astounding success gained by Dune II released in the same year overshadowed it completely.
I urge you, if you like adventure or strategy games at all, and you're into oldies.. give this one a try. I promise It won't dissapoint.

Rating: 8.5/10


Colin and Nickolas said...

I havent played many pc games

Unknown said...

Great review, thanks

duffboi said...

I do have a special place in my heart for trying out old games. I'll put this on my list of maybe's.

wolvz said...

cool review dude! and i absolutely agree with the rating you gave to the game. :)

Unknown said...

ea killed the series after acquiring westwood :(

Drood said...

I actually remember this game, I used to watch my brother play it all the time.

Never got much into it myself though.

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