Emperor: Battle for Dune

URL: http://westwood.ea.com/games/emperor/english/html/news.shtml

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Rating: Very good

Review:

If anyone has ever played Dune 2 or Dune 2000, you will find little in the way of new concept to this game. I have loved the previous games, and Emperor equally as well right now. It is definitely harder. I really can’t understand why other reviews say that it’s easy. I’ve been playing the game on medium/normal difficulty all this time and the game has bee grinding my nerves to the bone in difficulty. I’ve spent the last couple of missions just trying to keep my defense up as the enemy continuously throws wave after wave of troops against me. And he’s learning.

To give you a good example: I’m Atreides, attacking Ordos – Hate them, must kill them first! Each house has unique units. At one point and entry I’m guarding an entrance to my controlled plateau with a couple of machine gun towers, kenja AP rocket guys, and snipers. Initially, Ordos would rush right in and get slaughtered, which was good for me. About 2 mins later, he started attempting to mortar my Machine Gun turrets, but since my kenja was cutting the mortar troops to shreds, 2 mins later he’s attacking them, but since the snipers are protecting them, they attack the snipers. Its a slow learning curve I would guess. but you would get the point. There is a definite AI involved. Thankfully, it seems that after every mission the AI gets wiped out and you can re-use older tactics successfully again.

This game is quite graphics intense, the more detail you select the rougher the game will get. Right now I’m running 800×600 with max graphics settings. The time when I see the most slowdown in the game is when moving large number of units (20 units plus). It may not seem like that’s large, but if you’re moving in 10 units and the computer pushes 20 to defend, you’re gonna be moving slowly. The zooming feature is ruminant of WarZone 2100. You can rotate the camera left and right, and the zoom feature is more like changing the angle of view from 10 to 15 degrees off the surface to 90 degrees.

There are 4 discs to the game. 1 for installation, and 1 disc per House (Atreides, Harkonnen, & Ordos). The game has some intermittent problems with Windows 2000. In my case, I can’t even install. From what I’ve read on forums, it ranges from inability to play after install to frequent crashes while in Win2K. So far, I’ve run this game in Win98 with no problems. Tech support via phone in my one call in was excellent for a change.

I wouldn’t know how to rate games very well, so I’ll just try to explain what my thoughts are:

  1. Very similar in concept to previous DUNE games from Westwood.
  2. Game play runs and looks like a new version of Command and Conquer.
  3. Unique tech and abilities per House.
  4. There are 5 SUB Houses in the game that can aid, assist or battle against you (IX, Thelauxu, Sadaukar, CHAOM Spacing Guild, and the Fremen)
  5. Very little New Concept schema
  6. Progressive AI
  7. AI that forgets each mission (Maybe because I keep winning and I don’t let them run away)
  8. The ability to retreat from battle.
  9. Granted, most of the game is straight up “go out and destroy the bad guy”, but there is a little bit of strategic planning in which territory to expand/take control over.
  10. Not only are you fighting to take territory, but you’re fighting to defend territory when another house attempts to take it from you.
  11. Reinforcements can help or hinder. Playing against house Ordos, and allowing reinforcements to gather in one location without thinking about them is very very bad when Ordos uses Chaos Storm on them.
  12. The graphics are stunningly beautiful
  13. I always believe the movies make the game, and in this case Emperor has not been a disappointment.

The only reason this game does not get an excellent rating is the game concept is almost identical to Dune 2 and Dune 2000. This game could have been built upon much better than WestWood has.

Submitted by: W@KK0

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