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Have You Played... Emperor: Battle For Dune?

Dune 2001

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

2001's Battle For Dune was the first time I remember being consciously nostalgic about games.

I was a big PC gamer in the early-to-mid 90s, but took something of a sabbatical in the last years of the decade, as life + no money got in the way (some cause and effect there, yes). Somehow I wound up working on a computing and games magazine in 2001, and very quickly had to learn PC games again. Just a couple of months in, Emperor: Battle For Dune code landed on my desk, and, in an instant, I reverted back from someone who liked PC games and into someone who adored them.

Not because of Emperor itself, you understand. It was a bit of a clunker, and killed its developer Westwood's long-running real-time strategy hot streak (albeit already harmed by its 1998 predecessor Dune 2000). With the exception of an expansion pack for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Westwood never made another RTS before owners EA tragically closed the studio down in 2003 - although the ill-juged FPS-RTS mash-up C&C Renegade was the smoking gun there.

But it was a new Dune game, and Westwood's first Dune game, 1992's Dune II, was the first game I had ever really, truly, absolutely loved. Listless remake Dune 2000 was released during my PC gaming dark ages, and so Emperor was my first shot at returning to a universe and a style I'd so adored. There I was, 21, thinking a game sequel was a way to commune my childhood. It seemed so novel then. I look at the sea of remakes and sequels we get now, and I feel so numb.

I'm curious to play Emperor again now, to see how it really feels now I am no longer quite so vulnerable to calculated nostalgia. I'm sure it gave it some free passes because it had familiar vehicles and Sandworms, but I'm also sure I kicked it harder than it deserved because it wasn't exactly the same. I imagine that, if I did play it, what I would feel most strongly is that we don't really get RTSes like that any more. Oh look, here comes the nostalgia again.

About the Author
Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer

Contributor

Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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