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SummaryLame cash-in attempt
The GoodDune 2000 is a remake of Westwood's classic PC game Dune 2, the game that launched the real-time strategy genre. With Westwood's notoriety for re-packaging and re-releasing games it was inevitable something like this would happen. Sadly, many opportunities were wasted when Westwood put down their copy of How to Butcher Classics 101 and crapped out this instantly forgettable game.
Like in Dune 2 you can play as one of three factions (Atreides, Harkonnen, and Ordos, although there are many other nonplayable factions) and must fight to control the precious melange spice. Dune 2000 is mostly the same as Dune 2, and a few elements have been derived from Westwood's later games like Command & Conquer: Red Alert. There's the same kind of interface and graphical engine, and many of the classic Dune 2 gameplay conventions have been scrapped in favor of a more C&C-ish design (for example, the way the radar works). Dune 2 purists may not enjoy these changes, but overall they're for the better. C&C was little more than an expanded version of Dune 2 anyway, so there's nothing unfamiliar here.
The original Dune II is crude by present-day real-time strategy standards. Mounting a large-scale assault was a cumbersome matter of individually selecting each unit and ordering it to proceed to the enemy's base. Westwood was kind enough to implement band boxing to make Dune 2000 a little more modern, although unit production queues remain absent. Otherwise, the game plays much like it did in 1993: You lay foundation for a base, build structures, mine spice to earn cash, avoid the sandworm, build a lot of units, and attack the enemy. It's true that several gameplay elements of Dune 2000 remain rather interesting - particularly the starport, which allows you to pay up front for reinforcements at the fluctuating market price, usually less than what you'd pay to build your own. But for the most part, Dune 2000 is a simple game.
Production values on Dune 2000 are very good. In the original the story was told through simple animations and text messages, but in Dune 2000 we have full-blown FMV cutscenes that seriously could have passed as deleted scenes from the David Lynch movie. The revised artwork is for the most part good, and also with a lot of effort spent on making things look like the movie. The units and buildings could have been taken straight from celluloid. The sound effects have all been resampled, and there's some good professional voice-acting (including the guy who would later play Gimli in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies). And native Windows and TCP/IP support is always welcome.
The BadDune 2000 is very disappointing. I don't know what I expected, but it had to be something better than this.
Quick question: what's the point of remaking a game? To update a classic experience to modern times. Then why does Dune 2000 feel so much like a game released in 1995? The graphics are dull and repetitive (there's only one bland desert tileset, and the three sides in the game look almost identical), the AI simply sucks (trike rush = guaranteed win), the controls are skeletal (you can group-select units but there are no waypoints or anything like that). Whatever opportunities a remake may have presented Westwood went the lazy route and produced a game that feels dated and tired.
That sums up the main problem behind Dune 2000, it was dated before it even got out of the gate. Even the trifling revisions to the graphics and interface seem almost like insults. It would be like if id Software released an update of Doom using the Quake 1 engine and said "Hey look guys, now you can enjoy your favorite game with slightly better graphics AND THE ABILITY TO LOOK UP AND DOWN! Now give us 20 bucks!" I call this a cheap and blatant attempt to to exploit one's devoted fans, or anyone else who falls for this particular brand of snake oil.
Now, this wouldn't matter so much if Dune 2's gameplay was amazingly good to begin with. But despite it's historical significance Dune 2 has not aged well. The game is clunky, difficult to play, and horribly unfair. The new multimedia elements can't hide the fact that this is a 1992 game in 1998 clothing.