Have You Played… Dune II Remake Dune Legacy?

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.

45 Comments

  1. JiminyJickers says:

    Oooh!! multiple unit selection, that will surely make a bit of a difference. I played the original in the PC as well as the Sega Mega Drive version. Always took forever to move units around. May have to give this one a go, if I can find the original somewhere.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      That’s the very first thing I thought as well. Dear lord was it tedious to each-click together an offensive.

      • Paul B says:

        I remember painstakingly lining up my troops in a line, then moving them one by one, all while keeping them in formation. Early signs of my OCD. Good times.

        • eightohnine says:

          No! OCD is short for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s a nasty mental illness that has to be diagnosed by a professional and needs years of therapy and medication in the worst cases. Whoever told you that it’s an adjective for being overly tidy or feeling slightly uncomfortable around messy things, is clearly wrong (although I know that it’s a common misbelief on the internet and has been used in this context way too often before). This can (!) go hand in hand with the disorder as one of the symptoms but even then it’s everything else than mild and more of a burden that fucks up your daily schedule and let’s you suffer over and over again.

          • Hawkseraph says:

            Colloquialism, mate. It’s a thing.

          • Stardog says:

            Actually, he was being obsessively compulsive. Fact.

          • Paul B says:

            Hi, eightohnine, I actually suffer from schizophrenia and dislike it when it’s used as shorthand to mean in two minds. So I’m sorry if I caused the same feelings to arise in you. I meant OCD in the collaquial sense – I do suffer from an almost obsessive need to create order from things, and OCD does run in my family – I didn’t mean any harm. So, sorry, and I’ll endeavour to use the term correctly in the future :)

          • Jay Load says:

            I’m very fastidious about order, too. I tell people its just me being very anal about stuff, but it gives me a real sense of pleasure….then amuse myself watching them find the obvious joke. :)

  2. Drumclem says:

    This is such great news at the (relative) start of a week end! I fired up the original recently and was fascinated by all the busywork required to organize a sizeable attack: “You, there, you, there, you, there, you attack him, you attack him… NO, HIM. NO ! Oh b******…”

    Multiple unit selection is great but I’d wager it’s going to make the game way easier, despite changes in the AI. Having to micromanage everything was one of the difficulties (flaws?) of Dune II, and with that removed, I don’t think the other houses stand a chance!

    Also, it’s really funny how the higher resolution makes the maps look really tiny: at 1680×1050, I can barely scroll around on the first map of the game, which removes a bit of the mystery generated by the whole fog of war + scrolling combo.

    Anyway, this is great. And I think a good proof of that is that I have NEVER EVER posted so long a comment on RPS; or on any other website, for that matter. LONG LIVE THE ATREIDES!

    • Sin Vega says:

      I dunno, every house will still eventually get those (spoiler) random unstoppable rocket attacks from the Emperor towards the end, potentially wiping out a quarter of your base every time, forcing a reload. And if you’re not the Harkonnens, you get two of them.

      • Asurmen says:

        Ah Dune 2. I remember so many things from it, such as units on screen moving faster than units off screen, differences between Amiga and PC (Freman only attacked units on PC and Palaces cost spice to repair) and if you were Atredies or Ordos who you attacked in first mission determined whether you had dreaded double missile last mission.

        Always frustrated me that Ordos AI got heavy trooper squads but player Ordos didn’t.

        • Sin Vega says:

          But on the plus side, the Ordos … insidiator? I forget the name, but the mind control missile launcher did a wonderful number on those heavy Harkonnen tanks. “Oh, you have heavy nuclear tanks with a self destruct function mixed among your troops, do you? Yoink!”

    • Drumclem says:

      Ok, strike that. The new AI is WAY more productive than the old one, and as early as mission 3, I just got my ass uber-kicked by an enemy which, although not very aggressive, was INCREDIBLY numerous. As in:

      “-Ok I have about 10 quads and a few infantry units, that should do it… Wait he’s got… 5 harvesters ? Oh there’s a quad there, let’s destroy it as a warm-up… OH SHIT THEY’RE EVERYWHERE, WE’RE SURROUNDED, RETREAAezgrghgjlkllll…” *static noise*

      An absolute tidal wave of quads.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, this is my problem with this and other community RTS remakes; they ramp the AI (and speed) up to a level for the kind of obsessives who haven’t stopped playing them since release. OpenRA has the same problem.

        • Drumclem says:

          There is the option to use the original AI though. Might just turn that on :)

  3. Oakreef says:

    OpenRA has a Dune 2000 mode. Other modes are Tiberian Dawn and, as the name suggests, Red Alert.

  4. Zekiel says:

    Cripes, that’s a blast from the past. The very fast RTS I played, one of the first computer games of any kind that I played. I recall it being brilliant. I suspect it’s probably for the best that I don’t replay it (even this version).

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      Well, for me revisiting my very first computer game experience was worth it. The new convenient features make the game somewhat too easy, but the old formula of giving you a new toy to play with each new level still works. I still can remember how exited my brothers and me were when we built our first devastator tank, sending him straight against the enemy base and being somewhat disappointed when it was killed within seconds by the Ordo’s rocket turret batteries….

      Also the midi soundtrack is just incredible!!!

    • carewolf says:

      You and everybody else, it was the first RTS.

  5. int says:

    Thanks for this, I didn’t even know it existed. It’s a shame there hasn’t been a Dune game for so long, and I wonder who owns the rights now. Is it still EA?

  6. tiltaghe says:

    The first and the very best.

    Personally I like the Golden Path remake very much ( link to drackbolt.blogspot.fr )
    It’s focus is on multiplayer though, the campaigns are not there.

    Like you said the world of Arrakis is so brilliant. It inspired the whole genre! Westwood were beasts!

    The Golden Path is awesome because it removes all unit micro-management from battles. You give the order to your units to attack or to retreat, but once engaged in the fight, you can’t tell a unit to specifically target something.
    But this is not all. I think it really is a great version for those interested in multiplayer. Sensible factions reworks and ultimate units.
    I love the sandstorms clearing the radar vision. Was it in the original game? It felt like a good addition.

  7. Dachannien says:

    Can the computer still build its buildings right on top of your buildings if you build a base next to its base? Because it wouldn’t really be Dune II without it.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      That’s been fixed. Although I’m not sure it was because of the improvements to the AI, or the fact that they changed the whole game logic to not be anymore dependent on the human player viewport.

  8. Sin Vega says:

    It looks crisper and moves faster on PC (especially now I’d imagine), but I could never love that horrible 90s PC music. Even if there’s much more music on the PC version, I prefer the sad, lonely winds of the amiga theme: link to youtube.com

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Agreed.

      In fact, I wouldn’t even attempt to play this without a way of inserting the superior Amiga music and sfx. It really added to the experience.

    • Bfox says:

      Aw Amiga always got the best music

  9. ribobura osserotto says:

    I’m sorry to break this down to you Alec, but Dune Legacy is perhaps the crappiest of the open source Dune II remakes. Dune Dynasty is the one more prominently known, well maintained and modded by the community, and I recommend you to try it instead.

    link to dunedynasty.sourceforge.net

    • buzzmong says:

      Just had a play with Dynasty, seems well made, but the sounds are completely different.

    • Asurmen says:

      What’s difference?

      • buzzmong says:

        Shooting sounds for one, the lovely crunch sound has gone.

        That said, it may be more to do with the pak files I’m using rather than the fault of the mod. I’ll investigate.

  10. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Multiple unit selection, maybe even right-click?
    I should try, I spent so many long hours with the original.
    Also they might have invented tower defense.

  11. Houghtezo says:

    Wow, Dune 2 was one of the first PC games I had, and loved it back in the day. I hadn’t heard of this modernisation; It used to be one of my favourite games, but I probably haven’t played it since about 1995, so I’m quite excited/worried to try it again.
    I suppose if you no longer have to select each unit individually to issue orders it’ll be fantastic!

  12. chris1479 says:

    I played this on the Acorn A5000 – those were the days…

  13. Eclipse says:

    nice! and who remembers Dune 2000? it was a cool remake by westwood. And it’s sequel, Emperor: Battle for Dune was interesting as well

  14. Iajawl says:

    Now if only someone could rewrite the novels to drag them into the modern age. They don’t really stand up as well as they could.

    • tiltaghe says:

      What?! oO

    • king0zymandias says:

      The first one is still really great. The sequels do tend to get a little silly. But then again that’s really a problem with pretty much every fantasy and science fiction series.

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        Risingson says:

        No. Because as a reader of sci fi you should be able to put a context to the novels. They don’t “age”: you are just being lazy reading them.

        Unless we are talking about sexism and xenophobia, which are tougher to swallow nowadays. But Dune is a very fine book that talks about the society and international politics in usa at that time (hints: colonialism, feudalism, drugs, guerrillas…) and mixes that with different kinds of classic adventure narratives. I mean, it is pretty blatant about that…

        The style full of paranoid stuff with mind control and such is another nice 60s pop culture treat that then sounded very real.

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          Risingson says:

          Other thing, of course, is if you consider these books as masterpieces of literature. They are not, sci fi usually isn’t and books in any genre don’t need to be perfect to be interesting or enjoyable.

        • Asurmen says:

          It’s more the way it’s written just isn’t up to modern writing. Descriptions and dialogue is rather dry and doesn’t seem natural.

          • krynoid says:

            Tell you what, when you win a Hugo and Nebula you can criticize the writing.

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    Risingson says:

    Dune2, which I played at release time, was the first sign that I would suffer a lot in the following years as I was completely dumb at RTS from the beginning. I mean, at RTS among many other non video game things.

  16. pizzapicante27 says:

    Oh, nice I played the original on an emu… err I mean a totally legal borrowed console, and enjoyed quite a bit despite its age, might give it a go… or not, my backlog is HUGE.

  17. iMad says:

    Ah Dune, how I miss the spice, wind tunnels, harvesters swallowed whole by sandworms and the good/bad/ugly factions.