Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I spent a few hours playing Dune Legacy, a fan-made remake – well, more modernisation than remake – in work time a while back, couldn’t think of a great excuse to write about it then felt horribly guilty. Now I have an excuse! If you’ve long wished to revisit Dune II: Battle For Arrakis, the beloved grandparent of the RTS as we know it, but feared its archaic nature and appearance would break your heart, Dune Legacy is the answer.
Better mouse, squad and camera controls, high resolution support and compatibility are what Legacy primarily does: it’s not exactly dragging the old dear into the 21st century, but it’s enough to make a profound difference. With the worst ravages of age removed, the wonderful wargame at Dune II’s heart makes itself so much better known. It also adds in multiplayer and a map editor, but I don’t need those things myself: it’s all about the campaigns for me, those three warring houses slowly escalating their offensive capabilities, with those conniving mentat screens before each level.
Some things don’t, can’t, and perhaps shouldn’t change. Those blimmin’ concrete slabs still need placing one by one if you don’t want your buildings to decay rapidly, which on the one hand is very much a relic of its time, and on the other forces a painstaking approach to construction which is perhaps lost in the modern paradigm of go, go, go hotkeys.
It’s Arrakis, the original spice world, which is the star of the show, of course. So good to see its alien terrain, smatterings of orange and those random sandwork attacks looking crisper and grander. C&C, as much as I loved it to, always seemed overblown and garish compared to Dune II’s lonely ambience. Arrakis is a place and a state of mind, still. I won’t pretend it doesn’t show its age, but I do recommend a revisit, thanks to the wonderful work of the Legacy team, to reassure yourself that your fondness isn’t simply nostalgia.
Dune Legacy is free, but you’ll need the original data files from Dune II to make it work. I’m sure you can find them somewhere.