Title Dune 2 (Second Review) Publisher Virgin Developers Westwood, 1992 Game Type Management Sim Players 1 HD Installable Yes Compatibility All Amigas Submission John Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org) Profiled Reviewer Review Okay, so the game is based on the classic Sci-Fi book by Frank Herbert but unlike it's predecessor Dune, an RPG, this is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game. So forget what you've read, forget the film, (no, really do - it was abysmal), for apart from the names of the units etc. that's about where all similarity ends. Although not the first RTS game Dune 2 is generally credited with being the original of the genre and was certainly the main inspiration for Command and Conquer (also written by Westwood) and all it's clones. I won't bore you with the story behind the game since, like platform games, this is not it's main strength or raison d'etre. No this is a game in which gameplay reigns supreme and that is reason enough for me. Gameplay can be split into two distinct though linked parts. The first is a sim city like construction part in which you build up a base, harvest spice (the resource required for credits), and build military units. The second part is obviously the attack of enemy installations and units. So on to the game itself... At the beginning you get to choose from 3 houses (sides), each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses and of course special weapons, but more on these later. The actual game itself takes place on a screen which is divided into three main parts a bar at the top which gives you two buttons; Mentat and Options and a counter telling you how many credits you have available. The Mentat button gives you access to a encyclopedia of the units and buildings available in the game whilst the Options button gives access to the usual load/save etc. game options. Below this bar is the main game screen, showing a viewed-from-above game world, and on the right a smaller vertical bar which shows the selected unit/building and the relevant orders available to you. Once you have chosen your house you are given a briefing on your first mission; and so begins the mayhem. The first mission itself is merely a simple affair in which you have to harvest 1000 credits and the enemy is limited to a few troops which is just as well since your forces are pretty weak too. On this mission you are only able to build two types of building and are not able to build any military units. Of course this is intentional and reasonable since it gives you the opportunity to get used to controlling the game without having to worry about serious enemy attack. Don't let this mission delude you though as things soon hot up in later missions to the point where it is more a case of attrition than strategy. As you progress in the game you are given the opportunity to build more facilities at your base which in turn allows you to manufacture bigger and better military units, but of course the enemy also has the same sort of stuff so there is no advantage here. I mentioned earlier that each of the houses have special weapons, these only become available in the later missions and are specific to each house. I won't detail what these are but let you find out for yourself, personally I found some of them to be more useful than others. I should mention here that there is a fourth side in the game though this is always computer controlled and only appears in later missions. Missions themselves vary from the first simple mission with virtually no enemy to your battling against all three opponents. Of course the enemy is not your only consideration, there is also the need to harvest spice, for without it you will soon run out of credits and be unable to build anything. There are other dangers which can destroy your units but I'll let you find these out for yourself. The game mechanics are simple enough, with movement and control being mouse driven, and though maybe not perfect it is pretty good and easily learnt. Graphics wise the game cannot compare to the modern RTS games but that isn't to say they are bad either. Okay so there are no sumptuous explosions but units and buildings are clearly definable and identifiable even when the game is run on a TV. The game can be run on any Amiga with at least 1Mb RAM though on A500s it will slow down on later missions when there is a lot of action on screen. People also report that the game speed may have to be slowed down on accelerated A1200s to help your rocket turrets shoot down attacking ornithopters (air units). I can't say I've ever tried this method and you can certainly win without doing so but if your having trouble with this element of the game it's worth bearing in mind. Sound effects and game music are good without the latter ever becoming obtrusive or as so often happens annoying which is just as well since you can't switch it off. Another plus is that the game will readily mode promote to run on VGA monitors. So far everything has certainly fallen into the pro camp but like everything in life there has to be some cons. Well, there are but thankfully not many and I would venture not that major. My first and perhaps biggest criticism is that the game maps are always the same so once you've played through each house's missions a few times you will know where all the spice fields lie and where the enemy bases are. This obviously detracts from the overall game since this knowledge can make it far easier to deploy your units for maximum effect. Other minor quibbles I have are that enemy bases are always fully established at the start of the game although it must be pointed out that they don't expand, thank God. Also the fact that once you have destroyed the enemies spice storage and production facilities he is still able to produce units and repair buildings despite the fact that this should mean he has no credits available. Not strictly a fault of the game itself but it is a pity that there were no scenario disks ever made which would obviously have increased the game's longevity. Another failing and one which can often be levelled at this type of game is that a mission can degenerate into a war of attrition rather than strategy Overall though my verdict is a resounding thumbs up as this is a game which despite a few faults is overwhelmingly geared towards gameplay and enjoyment, these it delivers in abundance. I would recommend this game to anyone and even though it may not be your favourite genre it is worth having in your collection.