Emperor: Battle for Dune
When Westwood and Electonic Arts announced that they were busy with a new strategy game based on the Dune-license, alot of people were thrilled. Even more when they heard that the game would have a real 3D engine (a first time ever for Westwood) and that the game would be released in just a few months after the announcement.
Now, Emperor:Battle for Dune has been released for some time already and although sales aren’t bad, they are not what some people expected.
Let’s see why…
Emperor:Battle for Dune gives you the power to command the armies of the Ordos, Atreidis or Harkonnen, just like in the first Dune RTS by Westwood. Of course, as time evolved, also your units have changed a bit. Depending on the house of your choice you get engineers, footsoldiers, tanks and airplanes with enough variety to get you going to destroy your opponents by every means possible. A nice touch is that several units like the Sonic Tank, Devastator and Ornithopter have come back from the original Dune game and I must say that the Harkonnen’s Devastator is one hell of a machine to play with
The story is pretty nice although not really original. The spice is still the most precious thing in the universe and of course everyone wants to be in control of Arrakis where the spice can be found.
The Guild (some kind of church dudes that rule like the Pope does) decides that all three houses should battle each other to gain control over Arrakis, and so the war begins.
During your missions you’ll have the chance to allie with native tribes giving you some extra options for building units, but you will not get spared from backstabbing and treatury. I’m not going to enlighten the storyline any further, otherwise it won’t be much fun.
Westwood has created a 3D engine that can give you an isometric view on the battlefield, but to be honest you won’t use it much if you want to keep a good overview of the fighting. The way you’ll play it will be just like how you would play Command&Conquer or Red Alert and it seems the 3D aspect is purely aesthetic beauty.
What Westwood did with Emperor:Battle for Dune looks like putting their old game concept (Dune 2, C&C, RA, …) in a new jacket of a 3D engine and see wether it becomes successful so they might use it again for future games.
Does that make Emperor a bad game ? No, it doesn’t.
The storyline is pretty nice, the graphics are cool and and the overall game is nice to play. However, it does feel less compelling than for instance Red Alert 2. Why ? Not so simple to say…
It’s just a feeling actually. I was really looking forward to Red Alert 2 and when I finally got my hands on it I was really nicely surprised by the units, the way the game played and the storyline. With Emperor, I feel like I’ve seen it all before. The units are nice but nothing extraordinary. Also the mission types are almost always the same : defend base, destroy other base.
With RA2 you had at least some sniper missions to give you some diversion.
Also, you can forget about putting your units into a certain formation. That’s a “no-can-do”. Pathfinding AI is not so good aswell. For instance, if you’ve got about 25 units heading for a certain direction, there’s a good possibility that half of those units will not choose the best route but take a longer route, making your life alot harder if you’re sending them into battle…
I haven’t really gotten into the multiplayer part of Emperor, but from what I’ve seen, I would say you shouldn’t buy it for that. It’s pretty dull and doesn’t give much variation.
All in all, Emperor:Battle for Dune is a nice real-time-strategy game built by the crafty people from Westwood, but it looks like they’ve tried to do some tests with a 3D engine (which you hardly use, it only makes the system requirements alot bigger) and put a nice robe around it to get it sold.
If you’re into RTS and are looking for a game that will give you some hours of enjoyment, then Emperor is a good game to buy. If you’re looking for some really unique features, it’s better to keep your wallet in your pocket.