Emperor: Battle for Dune
Windows - 2001
Description of Emperor: Battle for Dune Windows
Haven't We Met Before?
Although it's odd to start a review with a history lesson, such an approach is entirely appropriate when you're dealing with a new game as archaic as Emperor: Battle for Dune. For while the title in question is just hitting stores today, the gameplay concepts are as old as dirt. Or at least as old as the dust blanketing that closet-consigned P75 you once used to play Command & Conquer. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.
But they have. And someone should tell the good people at Westwood. While the rest of the gaming world has moved on to bigger and better things, this formerly innovative company has simply been repeating the real-time strategy past. Their latest looks all the way back to 1992's Dune 2 (often cited as the first RTS ever developed) for its inspiration. All of the basic concepts that fueled both that classic and the subsequent Command & Conquer series have been recycled again and again. Emperor adds a true 3D engine to the mix for the first time, but aside from that and a few other noteworthy and not-so-noteworthy tweaks, this is the same game as Dune 2, Command & Conquer, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun, Dune 2000, and last autumn's Red Alert 2. Swap the cornball commies and Kari "Sliders" Wuhrer's patented breasts for Sandworms and Michael "Worf" Dorn's patented glower and you'd be hard pressed to find any significant differences between the last two Westwood efforts.
Emperor certainly looks the part. The game comes dressed up in all the expected full-motion video accoutrements that Westwood has been using since it was still acceptable to do so, in the middle 1990s. Like Red Alert, the plot is detailed in lengthy, gaudy film clips featuring a number of professional actors. Some are recognizable stars, such as the aforementioned Michael Dorn of Star Trek fame, while others are nobodies, but they all share the same uncanny ability to chew the scenery. Almost every scene has a few unintentionally hilarious moments, due to hammy acting, poor scripting, or a combination of the two. Everything is rendered even more ludicrous by the way that the actors address the gamer directly, breaking the fourth wall during mission briefings to inform the player that, yes, all is riding on what he or she is about to do. This isn't any more effective here than it is in the Red Alert games. The video sequences are so unlike the actual game that you have to make a conscious effort and remind yourself that the two are supposed to be related. Most of the time, however, you'll just sit back and gawk at how much better Michael Dorn looks without that rubber turtle on his head.
Other visual aspects of the design take Emperor into the present, however. As noted above, this is the first Westwood game to feature a gameplay engine that works in all three dimensions. It may be a little behind the times in this regard -- particularly considering that just about every other RTS developer hopped aboard the 3D bandwagon last summer (Activision with Dark Reign 2, Sierra with Ground Control, SSI with Earth 2150, etc.) -- though the implementation here is quite good. Visual quality still isn't up to that on display in the likes of Dark Reign 2 and Ground Control. Units seem a little jagged in comparison to their cousins in those rival titles, and animation is also a touch stiffer. Another damaging factor when weighing the pros and cons of sheer beauty is that the camera here cannot be focused directly on an individual unit. Where you could go so far as to zoom in on the glutes of the curvaceous Psitech covert ops specialists in Dark Reign 2, here you're stuck at a distance where it's often difficult to tell who's who, at least where infantry units are concerned.
Map art is also bland. Terrain features are typically lifeless and dull. While the simple fact that most of the game takes place on the desert world of Arrakis explains this somewhat, there's still no excuse for the topography to be so uniformly blah. Each map is usually made up of narrow shelves of rock and hard-packed earth separated by seas of sand. Aside from the odd bit of abandoned wreckage, there isn't much to distinguish one area from another. This sameness remains a problem later in the campaigns, when the scene shifts to more interesting locales, such as the verdant world of Caladan and the frigid wasteland of Draconis IV. About the only difference between these worlds and Arrakis is the predominant color of the turf. If Caladan weren't green, and Draconis IV white, you wouldn't know that you were no longer in the desert.
Dynamic and Intriguing
Some aspects of Emperor are more intriguing. The plot, set immediately after the events of Dune 2 and some 200 years before Frank Herbert's famous novel (disconcertingly called "the movie" in the press docs, I might add), details the War of the Assassins fought between the three Great Houses of Atreides, Harkonnen, and Ordos. This conflict takes place on Arrakis, the only known home of the Spice Melange, the most powerful substance in the universe. The leader of the victorious party not only will take charge of Arrakis and the spice, but he will also become Emperor of the Known Universe. So the stakes are extremely high.
All three races feature lengthy playable campaigns. These of course differ in terms of plot, although there aren't as many differences between the races themselves. While the Atreides are noble warriors, the Harkonnens violent and cruel, and the Ordos rapacious aliens who use hideous biological technology, there is little to separate them tactically. Basic units have counterparts that are nearly identical in the ranks of their opponents. For example, where the Atreides boast Kindjai Infantry with pistols and rocket launchers, the Harkonnen have Troopers with missile launchers, and the Ordos field AA Troopers, also with missile launchers.
This is reflected further up the ranks as well, though there are certain overall characteristics that can be taken advantage of, such as the strong Harkonnen armor and the Ordos' hit and run capabilities. About the only truly different units in the game are those used by the rather creepy Tleilaxu, a smaller house that uses flesh vats to grow Contaminators that infect opposing forces and turn them into copies of themselves, and Leeches, that fire larvae at foes. All houses share the same buildings, with the exception of gun turrets that slightly differ (the Ordos turret launches poisonous gas, the Harkonnen model shoots flame, and the Atreides version features machine guns).
Where Emperor truly stands apart from Westwood's earlier efforts is in the design of the single-player campaigns. Instead of fighting a series of must-win battles until the final showdown, here you wage war on a dynamic map. When the game begins, Arrakis is evenly divided into sectors controlled by the three houses. From there, you decide how to proceed, which sector to attack in order to best advance the war. At the same time, you'll be forced to defend your territory against enemy invasion. This adds a much-needed jolt to the standard RTS style, though it's not quite as freeform as you might believe.
For starters, your choices are generally quite limited. There are usually just two or three sectors controlled by each opposing house that can be attacked at a time (and at least two are typically off-limits due to severe storms). These often feature fairly similar enemy forces, so it's not as if these selections represent vastly different tactical plans. Also, there are certain elements of the story that seem to be set in stone, even the alliances with lesser houses and other independent groups. As an example of this, I was never able to form an alliance between the Atreides and the Tleilaxu, even though it was specifically noted in one of the cutscenes that the choice of ally would be left up to me.
Even when you are given varied mission objectives, the route taken to victory is almost always the same. Just like Red Alert, you always start off with a small group of forces and must immediately set up a base and start collecting resources (in this case, the Spice Melange) and constructing buildings and military units. Repetition is the watchword here, as you'll spend much of your time building the same structures over and over again. There are some episodes that break this trend, though they're few and far between. After leaving the campaign map, the gameplay here is very traditional and without much in the way of surprises.
Sensing a Trend
There are a few worthy tactical elements, though. Ally yourself with the Fremen tribesmen and you'll be able to summon mighty Sandworms to crush the opposition. The value of high ground is emphasized more here than in perhaps any other RTS in recent memory. As bases must be established on the rock that towers over the sandy seas below, you have to take advantage of this by building in the right areas and fortifying that position with long-range units such as mortars and snipers. Unfortunately, this emphasizes the relatively poor AI granted to your computer opponents, who will often assault such solid encampments from the sand below rather than flanking you in an attempt to launch an attack from a level playing field. If you work quickly and fortify your structures properly, you can expect little serious challenge from the opposition while you build a massive offensive force.
About the only obstacle to victory is the sub-par pathfinding. Your units will bump into one another and stop, wander into the range of enemy gun turrets, and so on. Large-scale battles should be micro-managed for the best result, which of course gets a little annoying at times. And infantry units are so dumb that they'll often allow themselves to be crushed by oncoming vehicles that could easily have been avoided. It's nice that they put direct firing orders ahead of self-preservation, but still.
Additional gaming options might provide players with further entertainment value, but again, there really isn't anything here that hasn't been seen before. Skirmish mode features some interesting ideas involving alliances, Sandworm activity, prebuilt bases, and crates with goodies inside, though there isn't a map editor or a random map generator. That alone will limit the replay value. Multiplayer is handled through the dedicated Westwood Online service. One helpful frill here is that you can go online to play a campaign cooperatively. It's good to see that, despite everything else, the designers realized the value of a cooperative mode.
Good points aside, Emperor: Battle for Dune is a tired game based on a limited concept that was beaten to death in 1998. Dynamic campaign and true 3D engine or not, the essentials of gameplay still come down to the very same basics that have dominated such titles for going on a decade now. Even though Westwood has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink to make this arguably the ultimate traditional RTS, it's still hard to contemplate playing the actual game without yawning.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
stever 2019-12-31 -1 point
the guidance says run initial install in compatibility mode for xp pack 3
BattleForDune 2019-11-07 4 points
Hey, i made a video about how to install the game : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Yu7Re2Cok
See you ^_^
Dune 2019-10-05 2 points
respong to Arpeggi "DUNE, I've tried your editing of the resources cfg file but I'm still being prompted"
You need to mount the iso to a drive letter in precise order so CD1 is Disk 1 CD2 disk2
so if you mount disk 1 iso onto Drive H :\ your entry in the resource file must be
repeat for all the disks you mount matching each disk number to the CD number and the Movies number
then run the game after the edit
I have written a script that automates it in powershell i am not sure this site allows scripts so will not paste it here
mntaur 2019-09-30 0 point
This game is fantastic, however the AI is abysmal if you use a rush strategy. Very low challenge and no one to play in multiplayer.
Arpeggi 2019-09-20 0 point
DUNE, I've tried your editing of the resources cfg file but I'm still being prompted to "Insert [House Name] Disk" when I try to begin campaigns. And I can't figure out how to make the game recognize the other mounted ISOs. At least I can play skirmish.
Dune 2019-09-14 0 point
In that resource.cfg file there is a movies section so also edit the place you mounted the ISO into that like this
resource.cfg file ….
for those struggling to run the game you will need to patch the game before you can play it to the latest version
Emperor: Battle for Dune Patch Information
September 6, 2001
Dune 2019-09-13 -2 points
This game originally had four CD's. in those days you swapped them in and out of your CD drive. So the game still expects this.
But you can Mount all four ISO's of the 4 CD's
Edit the resource.cfg file to tell the game where thy are mounted.
if you have mounted disk 1 to 4 in D: E: F: and G: drives
you would change the file like this
resource.cfg text file found in the dune program folder
'''''' other stuff in the file ''''''
save it and run the game
it will never ask for a disk mount any more
I have a powershell script i wrote that mounts the drives and edits the file and runs the game all at once. when the game finishes it unmounts them and quits
if anyone is interested i can paste the script in so you can try it
Fading Light 2019-07-05 0 point
if ur having issues with the .mdf files use anytoiso to convert the mdf file into an iso so that u can mount it. windows 10 users dont need the nocd crack due to being able to mount the required disc iso to run the game
Fedaygin 2019-05-15 -2 points
Can install client without probs, but after exit the client then it won't launch at 2nd time :/ Win 7 X64 SP1 OS.
Please Assist :)
Fedaygin 2019-05-14 0 point
How to apply patch file ? Do i just double click the file and then find the install location ?
Fedaygin 2019-05-13 -1 point
So need to DL "Any to Iso" software like (Madzenon) wrote above ^^ ? I have Win 7 x64. ISO Client DL is at 0.3/2.2gb and says 30mins left :/ I have 50mb/s DL connection so i guess Upload Bandwith at this site is boggled now :/ Sad cause Emperor: Battle for Dune hasn't come for sale into GOG yet.. Or in Steam :/
Kindly: Dune fan since early 90's when played Dune 1 & 2 with golden Amiga 600. Love Dune Movie, Mini Series, Books & games.
PST: Happy to support, share the good word & hope that Funcom would release some news soon about their Dune Gaming project. Rumor is that they're developing open world Dune adventure.
sprinter 2019-03-20 -1 point
You can still play this online... I do not know if you need a Orginal CD key to play online, I say this as I have a key from when I brought the game long time ago. So please do not shoot me down if the keygen keys do not work online for you
How to get online http://xwis.net/games/emperor/
sancio 2019-03-13 -3 points
i've windows 10 e don't install direct x, end the game setup don't start. help me!!!!
alien6429 2019-01-28 -1 point
I can't typing cd-key in installation procedure :(
does anyone have same issue? thanks!
Leifu Song 2019-01-22 2 points
It's quite a while since any epic "true" RTS were launched. The Dune series are definitely the epitome of that beautiful era of Westwood RTS. I think a new Dune RTS made with heart will be a great hit! I prophesize that it will happen in 12 months' time. Pray with me, brothers. ;)
Steven 2018-11-07 1 point
I have the original and it Works perfectly with higher resolutions using dgVoodoo2 D3D. Make sure you install the latest 1.09 patch.
Try this game fix if it still won't work.
sky 2018-10-05 1 point
daemon tool says can not access files ... hmm i have it working on my other pc but only cuz i have had the game originally installed on that pc from over 15 years ago and that pc had a celeron D processor and an r100 in it lol for anyone who doesnt know r100 is radeons first card haha but works on there just wana play it with my son on his pc but i lost the old disks so trying this method but cant figure it out
Malkor 2018-09-19 0 point
So happy when I found this site. Have installed the game and patched. Cant get the game to boot. Tried running from "CD", tried from root directory in compatibility modes xp and win 98, running as admin. Still nothing. Anyone had same problem?
pat 2018-08-17 1 point
I was able to download and patch the game on windows 10 but now im scouring the internet to try and find a way to get it to work. I try to run it but nothing happens.
sabretooth 2018-07-13 0 point
just uninstalled c&c 3 tiberium wars and decided to play dune instead.
Zoiu 2018-06-28 2 points
Works fine on win10 with Virtual CloneDrive, just dont use the nocd patch if you want to keep the FMV.
Game ON 2018-06-13 4 points
One of the best RTS games I've ever played.
This statement comes from someone who played over 30hrs per every! week since 1983 (on C-64, Amiga, PC-DOS, PC-Win, OSX)
So yes, 35 years x 52 weeks x 30+ hrs, I think I've seen every good game there is to see.
Wish they would do a modernised re-release for OSX 10.12 and later, I'd happily drop 100 bucks on that one.
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