Review by spiceworm
Dune II: Battle For Arrakis -- Good For The Time
In 1993, I remember first getting my hands on the disks to this game and playing the life out of it. This game was labelled as the follow on from Dune also on the Commodore Amiga. Introducing a more RTS feel to the game along with another House, the Ordos. I have many fond memories of this game as at times the missions could be so hard that simply completing them made you feel proud and gleeful. I especially liked this game as one of my more favourite developers, Westwood Studios had a major hand in the production and programming.
Gameplay was mainly a top down RTS style of commanding individual units and vehicles to eventual mastery and victory over the other Houses battling for Arrakis. The unit types and variety was pretty good for the age of the game and the limitations of the Amiga system in general. The plot was fairly solid, conquest and complete domination over Arrakis. The choice to play as one of the other Houses was interesting even though I was always chose the Atredies over the other Houses. The characters that the player came into contact with were clear and blunt with no messing around that would have been rather unnecessary.
The Graphics for this game were pretty cool using the same style and artistry of the Dune RPG. With the 3D element skimmed over and the units and environments made into 2D while still having 3D movements was a pretty novel and idea for the time. The combat animations were pretty good with mostly individual sprites and sound bites for the different combat forces. While not the cleanest they could have been the environments were clear and simple in a functional beauty that seemed to work nicely with the unit drawing. Buildings were okay as they used the same 2D rendering as the units and vehicles. This was effective and with their own look from structure to structure things had a pretty tidy appearance again. When in discussions with your Mentat the fact that they would blink and motion was rendered to their mouths was a pleasing touch. That and the player could fiddle around with their eyes and expressions was a fun little Easter egg to find.
The A.I for this game was never going to be all that much to write home about. The Amiga was more of a simple system that played the arcade and repetitive style of games far better than the CPU intensive ones. So lag was a major issue as was the limits that were placed onto the amount of buildings and units that the player could have control over at any time. The path finding was sometimes very slow with units often forgetting the task assigned to them which was annoying. Still though I did find that the game was still enough of a challenge to make me want to push on and complete the missions.
There are flaws for this game but again age has to be factored in while picking at these issues, hence my being a little soft on this game. Some of the biggest ones were down quite simply to system limitation over any programming or game failure. I found that the unit and building caps were very irritating but again without them the game would have lag crashed or failed all the time. It was still annoying though, as the amount of units you could build was limited by the number of CPU ones. Meaning that once the cap was hit you had to destroy the CPU units to build more. This issue also went the other way so if the CPU pinned you down it would eventually be able to out build and out muscle you and I know that fact put a lot of gamers of the time off of this game completely. There was a number of other issues but for the most part the ones that I have listed are the main creators of anger.
Well, my final thoughts for this one?
I liked it a lot when I was younger and playing through again is quite nostalgic. Would I like to play it more often than the simple casual mess around?
No, there are quite frankly better games to play even from the same era of gaming.
3.0 - Fair
Leonardo A.K.A Spiceworm
Product Release: Dune II: Battle for Arrakis (UK) (EU, 12/31/93)
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