Mentatal: Dune 2 Fan Remake Gets Multiplayer

By Alec Meer on July 29th, 2011 at 5:18 pm.

He who controls the spice controls slightly more resources than the other guy

When in company I want to impress, I’ll always reach for X-COM as the definitive game that made me. When I’m feeling a little less self-conscious, I’ll admit that really it’s the less celebral but no less landmark proto-C&C Dune II: The Battle For Arrakis. (I’m told it was called Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty in the US. I just can’t tell you how outlandishly wrong that sounds. Dynasty? Who cares about my legacy and offspring – I just want the Spice). I played each of its three campaigns multiple times, I drew ornithopters everywhere, I told my confused parents wild stories about sandworms and Fremen over dinner. No-one cared. I was alone in it. If only Dune Legacy had been around then – a fan remake/makeover of the seminal RTS, which has just added LAN and online multiplayer. Ooh, fancy a bit of that.

I’ll definitely have to experiment, though the game does require some files from the original Dune II so I’ll have to think up some kind of way to get them. Some kind of way. And no, it is not legally classified as abandonware and free from copyright, so don’t you dare link to a download in comments. Should be worth the effort required to find it yourself, of course – Dune Legacy also features a redone UI and higher-res graphics, while remaining faithful to the original look. Here’s a video of a slightly older build:

Ah, memories. Much lower-resolution memories. I’d probably have gone mad if the game had shown me so much of the level at once back in the day.

The latest version, v0.96.2, is available here. You chaps should definitely arrange some face-offs. I’ll try and take a fuller look next week.

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67 Comments »

  1. Ovno says:

    Ace, now I must dig out the floppys….

    Though I do need to know if they’ve added multiple select and rubber banding?

    • Hematite says:

      Indeed, I don’t know if I could tolerate such a departure from canon!

    • LionsPhil says:

      That was a killer for me ever getting into Dune 2 (although looking at the video, it’s in). I’d touched C&C beforehand and couldn’t go back.

      Ah, memories. Of the C&C demo off a magazine coverdisk somewhat lacking in instructions and thinking it was kind of rubbish because how could you possibly take down that laser tower and why won’t this big beetle-like vehicle with tons of armour I had to build a whole refinery to get attack anything aaaaah.

      Bit of a 180 in opinion when the harvesting aspect twigged, that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I think they may have meddled with the AI. I don’t remember getting horribly, horribly brutalised on Harkonen mission two.
      Also I’m pretty sure Westwood didn’t have Skirmish-grade AI until Red Alert—C&C was all scripted (which is why computer players got no bases in multiplayer). This thing is growing and expanding its base and infantry swarming me—my own attack force was doomed. Aaaaa.

  2. razlebol says:

    I really love old game remade with huge resolutions like this. Fallout 1 and 2 are so great like this.

  3. aircool says:

    Those dreaded words… ‘Harkonnen Ve-hicle Approaching’. The building on rock and risk of sand worm attacks is something that, as far as I know, has never been re-used in subsequent RTS games. Marshalling units for a massed attack took quite a bit of planning.

    Definately one of the grandaddy of games.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Well, apart from Dune Wars for Civ IV. And Alpha Centauri, kind of. And Perimeter.

    • evilbobthebob says:

      Also Dune 2000 and Emporer: Battle for Dune. Though technically Dune 2000 was a remake of Dune II.

    • WPUN says:

      (Dreams of a Dune makeover for Alpha Centauri.)

    • frenz0rz says:

      Emperor people, Emperor! One of my favourite games of my youth; comparable, if you will, to Alec’s obsession with Dune 2. At the age of 13 I was also scrawling ornithopters all over my textbooks and doodling images Harkonnen tanks being swallowed by sandworms. It’s brilliant and hilarious Westwood FMV cutscenes even convinced me to pick up the novelss, which then taught me the stark difference between the games’ Lynch-film type Dune and that which is actually described in the books.

      In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise I owe Emperor a hell of a lot. It inadvertantly got me into sci-fi novels, brought me hours of joy and solace through some pretty dark times at school, and lead me to read what I still think is the greatest book I’ve ever read. Honestly, I’ve read it virtually every year since my early teens and I still love it to bits.

      Plus, Emperor had the best music of any game, ever. I’m not exaggerating, its undeniably Frank Klepacki’s best work. And there’s literally dozens of completely different songs. A little something for your ear-holes:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2Y36lHX0Fg
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0CIw6vYSpY
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU–XmPKA2U

      (I have no idea why the nice bloke who uploaded all that wonderful music has assigned a random anime character to every song, but I’m not complaining).

    • Stense says:

      Ahh I’d forgotten how good the music was in Emperor. I loved that game, and I loved Dune 2. Then again, I’m something of a Dune-a-holic so its no surprise I love those games. Good times.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      Emperor was a great RTS which was kind of unfortunate in coming along during the C&C-hate period; the time when everyone was getting a bit fed up of Westwood not innovating enough. Shame because Emperor did a lot of cool things.

      Except the final level. Uncool Westwood, uncool.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Yeah, the final level was a bit rushed. And difficult. And wierd. The easiest tactic I recall was as Ordos, and simply rushing the ‘objective’ with all your super fast units. Ixian infiltrators were handy in blowing the ‘objective’ up, and those elite units were great for converting enemy units. I never bothered building a base as Ordos though.

      I seem to remember Atreides being the hardest for me. I’d invaded Draconis IV instead of Geidi Prime, so the Harkonnen were still on the planet defending the Guild’s project. The Atreides were too slow for the Ordos rush tactic, so I tried building a base instead. A few minutes later, a fleet of Harkonnen advanced Carryalls dropped about 6 Devestators into my base, and I died a fiery death. Tried it a few times, but eventually I just couldnt be arsed.

      On an entirely different note, ALL HAIL THE PADISHAH EMPEROR, GUNSENG HARKONNEN! Because Copec was a right tosser.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      I don’t know if it was rushed as back in those days the final level of an RTS was meant to be ball-crushingly hard. But usually they have a tipping point where you finally gain the upper hand and are guarenteed the win (short of last-minute, scripted dickmoves). This final level didn’t have that: the only way to win was to charge with fast units early on and hope you could find somewhere behind the worm to stand and shoot it where the hundreds of enemy couldn’t get you (also known as the “Mephisto~Amazon tactic”). Which is why, as you say, the Ordos are the best to try it with.

      What I really liked about this game was it (last level notwithstanding) made the 3 sides very balanced. I’ve always been a Harkonnen fan myself just for the extra killing power, but the Ordos and their regenerating shields made them a really interesting side to use. The Atreides I never personally got on with, but they always gave a good fight and didn’t seem underpowered.

      The extra Faction concept was great too. Being allowed to supplement your forces with extra units from the Fremen, for example, meant you could use tactics otherwise unavailable to your House. Such as having fast units but playing Harkonnen.

    • The Sentinel says:

      On the subject of good music in RTS games…while the dune stuff is good I preferred the music in Perimeter. Good and otherworldly:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP7lFSD0_mM

      You can download a few of them here:

      http://www.kdlab.com/eng/music/music.php

      “Scourge” is brilliant, as is “Construction”. Worth a few moments of anyone’s time.

  4. zipdrive says:

    The graphics would fit an indy game today, barely. But those sound effects do bring back memories…
    and yes, drag-and-select is a MUST

  5. doubledope says:

    I really liked Dune 2000. And years later I realized it was a sort of remake of Dune 2, which I haven’t played, until this. However, I can’t figure this out: Why not make a remake of Dune2000? You could even call it Dune2011 if you want, but these graphics aren’t as sexy as those of my beloved Dune version.

    • Langman says:

      Dune 2000 was a bit underrated IMO. Had an absolutely incredible soundtrack too.

    • evilbobthebob says:

      Frank Klepacki working his magic. I did love Dune 2000…it came free with my first desktop PC and introduced me to strategy gaming. It’d be nice to see a CnC3 mod that would bring Dune II/2000 into the 3D age properly. (I say CnC3 because its engine is probably the best choice)

    • cubed2d says:

      Im of the opinion that Emporer: Battle for Dune was the best dune game, and one of the most interesting RTS games ever made. You dont need to brink 2000 to the 3d era, emperor was already there.

      It did lots of interesting things for the time, but my favorite feature was that it didnt matter too much if you lost a mission. The balance of power over the world map changed and the game went on. Try a different route.

      Have any recent RTSs done something similar? i tried to replay it a few months back, but like all early 3D games it hasnt aged well. In particular, the camera is way to low. Ive been spoiled by supreme commander

    • doubledope says:

      Now I come to think of it, Dune2000 might be my first RTS game I ever played. Hmm, not sure..
      @cubed2d: Emporer: Battle for Dune
      Yeah that’s the main reason I haven’t played that one. I never knew it existed until a year of 6 ago, but looking at screenshots it didn’t really push me to play it. I love the early 2d games, the new ones too, but the early 3d is really, really hard to pick up and play. I played a lot of those games when they were the closest thing to realism, but playing them now just doesn’t do it for me.

      [edit] On the topic of bringing dune2000 to the 3D era: The first things I made as a 3D modeler (2003?) were the trike and missletank-thingy from dune2000. Sadly I have no pictures as I lost my early work on a HDD crash. Otherwise we could have a good laugh at my puny 3d skills back then…

    • evilbobthebob says:

      Funny you should say that, because some of my first 3D stuff was Dune 2k-based as well. I think I attempted to make a mod for the freeware Glest (www.glest.org) based around Dune…but it didn’t really get anywhere.

  6. djbriandamage says:

    Oddly, although Wolfenstein 3D opened my eyes to a lifelong love of first person shooters, Dune 2 is the only RTS I ever really enjoyed. I made it to the last mission and just couldn’t beat it. Rebuilding my base from scratch over and over was too much for me. I’ve had no patience for the genre since, and I can’t say I’ll pick up a remake either.

    As far as I’m concerned, Dune 2 is “the RTS”. The only one.

  7. jay35 says:

    Dune: The Battle for Arrakis was the title on the Sega Genesis version here in the US. The PC version was the only one with the aberrant title. I loved this game on the Genesis. Westwood was so amazing back then. The original Command & Conquer on the PC was equally as enthralling.

  8. Batolemaeus says:

    Oh wow, how did this escape my radar?
    I’ve sunk so much time into wz2100 and earth 2150, and now those people just renovated another part of my childhood.
    Mandatory play for me to be honest.

  9. sonicblastoise says:

    SPLOOOOOOOOOOGE!

    And now, I’m going to harvest it all up

  10. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Hmm this makes me want to read Dune books again. Its been like 10-15 years

  11. Mr_Hands says:

    I just got all wobbly.

  12. WMain00 says:

    The beginning is a very delicate time. Know then that it is the year 10191. The Known Universe is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, my father. In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the spice Melange. The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness. The spice is vital to space travel. The Spacing Guild and its navigators, who the spice has mutated over 4,000 years, use the orange spice gas, which gives them the ability to fold space. That is, travel to any part of universe without moving.
    Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you — the spice exists on only one planet in the entire universe. A desolate, dry planet with vast deserts. Hidden away within the rocks of these deserts are a people known as the Fremen, who have long held a prophecy that a man would come, a messiah who would lead them to true freedom. The planet is Arrakis, also known as Dune.

    • sinister agent says:

      Nooo! Film = terrible. Book = bestest.

      “Oh yes, I forgot to tell you”? Such clumsy, cringeworthy writing, and in the introduction, no less.

    • DeCi says:

      A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Muad’Dib, then take care that you first place him in his time: born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. And take the most special care that you locate Muad’Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was born on Caladan and lived his first fifteen years there. Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place.

      The book is so much better ;)

  13. Dachannien says:

    Can the AI in the remake plop buildings down on top of your buildings? Because they could in the original.

  14. Ginger Yellow says:

    If I did a Gaming Made Me, this would be top of the list. I first played it on a friend’s Amiga, but getttnig the Megadrive version was what first got me hooked to strategy games. I played it for months and months.

    • KillerB says:

      Was just about to write this comment about ‘Gaming Made Me’! It was the first real game that Me and my Dad both played religiously, i must have only been about 13 at the time and we FINALLY had something to talk about i.e. “blowing stuff up” strategy and how fun it was to squish the Evil Harkonnen in tanks! Mwaaaaaa ha ha haaaaaa!!!

  15. Tei says:

    -Dune2- I am your father!
    -Starcraft – Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

  16. sinister agent says:

    I loved Dune 2, but I only ever completed it as the Harkonnens, because if you picked anyone else, the last few levels would have you fighting against the absurdly powerful missile they used, which could literally wipe out half your base every 15 minutes or so. Coupled with the finite amount of spice (money) on the level… yeah. And on the last mission, you’d have TWO of them coming at you. Erugh.

    That said, the Ordos side-switchy missile launcher was wonderful for taking out Devastator tanks. Take control of a massively armoured enemy unit… that has a self destruct function? Why yes, I believe I will.

    • Hematite says:

      There was a bug where if you took control of an enemy unit and readied the attack cursor, you would ‘keep’ the attack cursor for the unit even after it reverted back to its original side. You could still order it to attack, and it wouldn’t change orders until the target – say, the enemy construction yard – was dead.

  17. Namos says:

    One question: Do the Ordos still suck?
    Oh, and do heavy tanks still kiss?

  18. Hybrid says:

    Required link to the Iron Maiden song “To Tame A Land” which is based on Dune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS4-1UCXvcA

    • frenz0rz says:

      I love you for posting this, as my two favourite things in the universe are Maiden and Dune. Awesome song that, although IIRC Steve Harris wanted to call it Dune, but dear old Frank Herbert wouldnt allow his ‘Dune’ name to be used by any of that new fangled heavy metal stuff. I think I actually prefer ‘To Tame a Land’ though.

    • Hybrid says:

      The new title works, that’s for sure. I think I was listening to a bootleg of a concert during the Piece of Mind era and remember Bruce telling the crowd about the name change. Funny that Frank Herbert wouldn’t have anything to do with Maiden, and yet Patrick McGoohan let them use a few seconds of audio from The Prisoner for a song.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I think Frank was just very protective of his series and its name, since Dune is critically acclaimed as one of the best sci-fi novels ever written, and one of the great pieces of 20th century literature. The Lynch film leaps to mind. Which makes me wonder what he would think of his son’s prequels. Personally I quite enjoyed House Corrino etc. when I was growing up, but I never read the Butlerian Jihad series, any of the post-Chapterhouse books, or any of the [Character] of Dune books.

    • skurmedel says:

      Ah yes. This song is awesome. The Dream Theater cover is nice as well if you like prog-metal.

  19. ColOfNature says:

    Oh man. That was one of my first obsessions. I think I’ve still got the Amiga disks somewhere – maybe they’ll work.

  20. Lobosolitario says:

    Also worth highlighting:

    Dune II: The Maker
    http://dune2themaker.fundynamic.com/

    Dune II: The Golden Path
    http://drackbolt.blogspot.com/

  21. Daniel Klein says:

    Seriously? THAT harvester AI in a PvP situation? Screens will get punched. Trust me.

  22. wererogue says:

    I’m not posting a link, but the abandonware usual suspects seem to think that it is abandonware.

  23. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I wouldn’t mind purchasing the original through good old games or the like. But, seriously, it’s still being sold somewhere?

  24. danimalkingdom says:

    There was a fan remake made a few years ago called Arrakis, which featured three extra factions: the Sardaukar, the Mercenaries/Pirates and the Fremen. It’s good but still retains the original’s UI shortfalls.

  25. cw8 says:

    Spent so so much time on Dune 2 last time, oh the memories of Sandworms swallowing my Harvesters and Devastators whole come flooding back.

  26. mod the world says:

    Beautiful memories…Dune2…. they just don’t make RTS that good these days. I blame the internet.

  27. Zagzagovich says:

    Oh god. I haven’t heard the words “Atreides” and “Ordos” in 7 years. Harkonens on the other hand are still quite popular. Dune 2 was one of the games I constantly played on Genesis but never wanted to actually do objectives, I just loved to build a base and a crescent moon of defenders (also like the first tactic for anything ever that I figured out). Huge thanks for posting this. Got a good nostalgia bump.

  28. rocketman71 says:

    Ohhhhhhhh, fantastic. Such good memories, when EA was old EA and still hadn’t fucked up Westwood (obviously, since they hadn’t bought them yet).

    Gotta try this.

  29. Inigo says:

    What always bothered me was the lack of melee combat and the emphasis on tanks in the Dune games. Shouldn’t they all be using crysknives, blades and footsoldiers to avoid attracting worms?

    • DainIronfoot says:

      The dune games have always been incredibly far removed from the books.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Even Dune 1, the weird adventure-y thing?

    • Ashen says:

      Dune1 didn’t follow the book verbatim, but it was mostly true to the setting (unlike the RTS games). An excellent game on it’s own right and also shockingly beautiful for its time – I remember being quite stunned by it back in 1993.

    • frenz0rz says:

      One thing that has always annoyed me in the games ever since I read Dune – Atreides colours are red, and Harkonnen are blue. Not vice versa!

    • Zepposlav says:

      Really? Are Atreides red? I have read the books and can’t remember such thing. :P ATROCITY!

    • Coillscath says:

      He is absolutely correct. Atreides were always red. It’s just that blue was the standard “good guys” colour in Westwood’s games.

  30. Butler says:

    It warms me to see a Dune 2 screenshot on RPS. WARMS ME I SAY.

  31. Ashen says:

    This brings so many memories. I particularly loved the ‘Mentat’ screen detailing all the weaponry. Must have spent hours in that thing. Also, making the ordos mentat squint by moving the mouse cursor around him always made my 14-year old self giggle for some reason.

  32. sinister agent says:

    My word, that music is vastly below the quality of the sound. Now I remember why it wasn’t until 1998 that I even wanted a PC. The amiga’s music was much more fitting.

    The sound effects are oddly identical, though.

    • Ashen says:

      No way. The music was excellent (it was Frank Klepacki after all), you just needed a proper general midi sound card, much like with most games of that period.

  33. iphone repairs says:

    I really miss these types of games. I haven’t played a PC game in over 10 years. Steve

    • The Sentinel says:

      Oh you poor sod. Not too late to come back to it, you know…

  34. c-Row says:

    Runs fine on my WinXP machine, but launching on OSX (Lion) just crashes me back to the desktop. Hmm.