Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis logo

In search of a little something to spice up your life? Maybe Virgin have the answer...

I never saw the film Dune. Perhaps that was because when it came out back in 1984, it was in the middle of Star Wars fever. Being a cheeky young nipper-type person at the time I didn't care for strange sci-fi films with seemingly incomprehensible plots when I could marvel at the stunning special- effects masterpieces pouring out of Lucasfilm Productions on a regular basis. For me, Tatooine was the ultimate desolate desert planet, and Dune was merely an inferior imitation.
Apparently, the film was very strange and very long. Nearly two-and-a-half hours, in fact, and perhaps the reason for its strangeness was that it was directed by a certain David Lynch. Well, you learn something every day.

Of course, whether or not this was a fair assumption I can't honestly tell. But now, a decade on, Virgin have seen fit to produce a second computer game based around the Dune universe. Unlike the first one, which was an adventure, Dune 2 is very much a strategy game. Despite never having seen the film or read the books, I was the obvious choice to review Dune 2. Why? Because I'm the gullible chappy around here. It must be said that neither Biff nor Simon wanted to have the task of reviewing this, for some reason.

To be quite frank, I don't think they've got the necessary noggin to cope with it. You have to be prepared to spend time learning how to play games like this, although the lengthy manual is very helpful and easy to digest. Or perhaps they were put off but its initially unappealing nature.

Dune 2 is set on the world of Arrakis, commonly known as Dune. It appears that the situation on Arrakis is nothing short of critical. The planet is the only source of the spice which makes interstellar travel possible and can prolong human life. It's also a component of dermal unguents, if anybody cares. Anyway, the point is, you need the spice desperately. The problem is that you're not the only one who wants it. You represent one of the competing houses, and it's your job to make sure that you get the spice and they don't.

This desert planet boasts only two indigenous lifeforms: fremen and sand worms. The latter pose a threat to the average human, taking any opportunity to scoff them and their vehicles.
Basically, the ultimate objective of the game is to take over the planet, although your first mission is simply to fill a spice quota.
Gameplay basically consists of constructing new buildings, repairing any existing and damaged buildings, scouring out new areas of the planet, harvesting spice and destroying the opposing forces.

The screen shows a section of the map, which is several screens in size. The map is not revealed until you have scouted out the area with a vehicle or person. Exploring is necessary to find new spice fields to harvest. You will also find sandy areas (beware of Sand Worms here), sand dunes, rocky areas and mountains which are impassable for vehicles.

The vehicles available include trikes, quads, tanks, ornithopters (a type of weird aircraft) and so on. Some are well armoured and effective in battle, whereas others are designed to be fast and are subsequently less well armoured.
You move your vehicles about by clicking on them, clicking on the action you wish them to perform in the command window on the right-hand side of the screen, and finally clicking on the place where the action will be performed.
For instance, if you wanted to attack an enemy vehicle, you could click on one of your own trikes, then on ATTACK, then on the enemy. Clicking on your construction yard brings up the relevant menu in the command window. From there you can construct concrete foundations for buildings (this lessens the amount of repairs that will be needed later), and a variety of buildings.

Different buildings perform different functions - for example, a Wind Trap acts as a power plant, a Light Factory produces small vehicles, and so on. Later in the game, buildings such as starports and research centres can be constructed, and this opens up new possibilities, such as trading and special new weapons.

The entire game can be controlled by the mouse, or by some well-thought out key-presses, if you prefer. Throughout the game you can call upon this bloke (or bloke-ess, depending on your house) called a Mentat who bestows pearls of wisdom upon you and gives you updates on your progress.

The graphics aren't wonderful but they are functional enough. The digitised sound effects, however, saying things like "yes sir", "affirmative" and "enemy unit destroyed" complete with radio clicks, are really well done, and some atmospheric music plays away in the background when it's not deafened by laser blasts. The soundtrack enhances the gameplay considerably. When you first begin, you may find it to be slightly confusing or dull, but as you play it more you'll find it becomes quite addictive.

It's not perfect, however. It can become a bit repetitive after a while, since the objective for each level is pretty much identical and the technique required to achieve it doesn't vary. It also seems to lack that certain indefinable something that truly classic games have. Beneath the rather dull facade there is actually quite a lot of depth and challenge, it's just that the challenges don't change as the game progresses - it's always just a race to build the best buildings and protect yourself against the enemy.

While this may all sound very similar to MegaLoMania, there are two significant differences. Firstly, MegaLoMania had better graphics and humorous sound which made it instantly accessible.
Secondly, in MegaLoMania, as the game progressed and the tech level changed, the methods of gameplay required to succeed changed considerably, whereas in Dune 2 the method stays the same.

Despite this, Dune 2 is a very competent attempt at the genre, but not up there with the classics. Were there a little more variety it could have been a Gamer Gold.


Dune-know what this icon does?
If you're going to get anywhere with this game, you've got to know what all the little icons do when you click on them. So here, courtesy of Gamer (the top magazine for the discerning spice harvester) is a guide to what does what on the screen:
Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis
  1. Click here to speak with your advisor.
  2. This lets you save and load games and change the speed of the game to suit your taste.
  3. This is how much cash you've got.
  4. When you click on a vehicle, something like this will appear in the command window. It shows you the vehicle's damage status and allows you to give orders.
  5. The radar scanner.
  6. The main map window which scrolls around.
  7. Various messages appear here giving you news and information.


Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis logo

When Virgin produced Dune a year ago, it received lukewarm reception from reviewers. Can it do better the second time around?

As if the situation on Dune was not bad enough. The Ordos, the Harkonnens, and the Artreides have been battling it out over the valuable spice Melange for years now, and quite frankly the galaxy is getting sick of it. So what does the Emperor do? He sticks his oar in with a challenge to the three families, offering full control over the planet Dune, and its rich supply of Melange, to the prevailing House: "The House that produces the most spice will control Dune... There are no territories, and no rules of engagement". Very clever.

Typical of a governmental leader to poke his nose in where it is not wanted. Anyway, it sets a good scene, and Westwood Studios - producers of the Eye of the Beholder games and Legend of Kyrandia - have taken advantage of this and created a crackingly good game.

Nurturing nutmeg
As far as complexity of game the game goes, Dune 2 beats most others hands down. Although the plot is pretty basic - mainly 'Wipte out the enemy' or 'Make X amount of credits', the strategies required get incredibly complicated. This is partly because it is up to you to build up your base from scratch, and to begin mining spice to create money which you can then spend on making new structures, military vehicles, weapons and armour.

In Dune 2, in a similar way to Syndicate, the latest game from Bullfrog, it pays to invest money in armaments and instruments of war. With roughly 10 levels for each House, the enemies just get harder to beat - so you really need the extra equipment to keep your army on top. Actually, 'on top' could be the wrong phrase, because from the start of the game you are up against armies which are stronger than yours.

In fact, you often feel like giving up after the ninth or tenth go at completing a level, but then you think of a different strategy, try it and it works. It is all a case of keeping a clear head, and never admitting defeat until the enemy have knocked out your final tank.

Although the missions do seem a bit repetitive, each is quite different from the last - with new technology becoming available each time. Once the enemy begins attacking, there is no let-off period until the battle is won or lost. The best strategy is to build as large a base as possible, and as many troops as possible, before you attack. This means that you maintain a steady flow of credits throughout the battle, so the inevitable casualties (and there will be many of them) can be replaced fairly quickly.

On level four, you will find the Emperor's troops, or the Sardaukar (known as 'purple sleems' by the Amiga Format staff) joining forces with the enemy and attacking your base. It seems the Emperor has a sense of humour. Oh, and the sand worms appear on this level as well, so make sure you do not wander across sand for too long, or you may find yourself swallowed into a gaping, sandy maw...

The great escape
Sometimes, during a long battle, you find yourself wishing there was a way of running away and hiding for a bit, to catch a breather. Eitehr that or some kind of 'smart bomb' which kills all known enemies within 100 paces, or something - but that would be cheating, of course. (Mind you, if you play as the Harkonnens you get the chance to develop a beast called the Devastator, a nuclear-powered nerve gas-firing battle tank, and this does have a self-destruct button which takes out everything around it).

With a game of this quality it is difficult to find anything bad to say. I could mention that sometimes your vehicles refuse to move when ordered to the opposite side of a structure. Instead you must lead them around the structure step by step, which can be quite annoying. Also, if you only have one floppy drive, you have to complete a silly number of disk swaps before you get into the game.

Dune 2 is addictive. If Syndicate could be described as Populous 2 with guns, then Dune 2 is Sim City with heavy artillery. Dark, moody, atmospheric, addictive. Brilliant.



Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis logo

Im Zeiten wie diesen kommt Virgin ein besonderer Stellenwert zu, gilt die Company mittlerweile doch als Garant für hervorragende PC-Umsetzungen. Und die Engländer werden ihrem Ruf auch diesmal gerecht!

Erneut bekommen wir es mit einem Werk aus dem Programmierstudio des Westwood-Teams zu tun, dem wir bereits "Eye of the Beholder" und "Legend of Kyrandia" verdanken.

Mit dem vorzüglichen Vorganger hat das kriegerische Wirtschaftsstrategical außer der Qualitat und dem "wüsten" Szenario aus Frank Herberts SF-Saga allerdings wenig gemein, auf Adventure-Elemente wurde diesmal komplett verzichtet. Im bombastischen Intro erführt man, worum es tatsächlich geht:

Der galaktische Imperator veranstaltet einen Wettbewerb, bei dem der beste Spice Produzent als Siegesprämie die Herrschaft über den Wüsten planeten Dune erhalt. Es bleibt dem Spieler überlassen, für welche der drei teilnehmenden Dynastien (Atreides, Ordos und Harkonnen) er sich ins Rennen um das futuristische Wunderelixier begibt.

Die einzelnen Sippen unterscheiden sich durch ihre militarischen und wirtschaftlichen Fähigkeiten, aber die Aufgabenstellung ist für allen gleich:

In 27 Einzelmissionen muß die an "Sim City" erinnernde, aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigte Ernte landschaft beackert und gegen die beiden Digi-Konkurrenten verteidigt werden.

Zunächst erfahrt man dabei das jeweilige Etappenziel, welches anfangs einfach aus der in Credits ausgedrückten Menge an Spice besteht, die man in die Silos schaufeln muß. Dann setzt man ganz ähnlich wie bei Maxis' Stadtebauklassiker per Maus seine Kraftwerke, Lagerräume, Raffinerien, Fahrzeugfabriken und Militarbasen in den Wüstensand; im weiteren Spielverlauf kommen dazu noch Radarstationen, Raumflughafen oder Forschungszentren, die für teure Credits gebaut und unterhalten werden dürfen.

Während die Erntemaschinen weitgehend selbstandig arbeiten, erfordern die diversen Infanterietruppen, Panzer, Sandbuggys und Trikes etwas mehr Aufmerksamkeit. Mit ihnen "erfährt" man sich das a la "Civilization" erst nach und nach sichtbar werdende Gelände, außerdem braucht man seinen Werkschütz dringend zur Bekämpfung der von Mission zu Mission immer aufdringlicheren Mitbewerber.

Daneben sorgen zufallsgesteuerte Sandwürmer fur ärger, aber unlosbar sind die Aufgaben deshalb keineswegs selbst wenn die jederzeit befragbaren Berater nun wirklich keine große Hilfe darstellen. Der Sound war bereits bei unserem Pressetestmuster von gewohnter Gute, die Verkaufsversion soll gar eine deutsche Sprachausgabe enthalten.

Was Grafik und Menu/Maussteuerung anbelangt, hat sich gegenüber dem PC-Original wenig geändert, die (32 farbigen) Intro-, Zwischen- und Menubilder machen immer noch wesentlich mehr her als die eigentliche Spiellandschaft. Die Animationen sind nicht weltbewegend, und das Scrolling ruckelt wie eh und je, ein flotter Turbo-Amiga wäre daher sicher angebracht.

Aber derlei kleine Schwächen nimmt man gern in Kauf, wenn das Gameplay so ausgefeilt ist wie in dieser interplanetaren Stratego-Wüste! (C. Borgmeier)



Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis logo

Have you ever been a spice harvester before? Either way, this sci-fi strategy wargame should win you over.

Nature can be weird sometimes - it's like it just knows exactly what's going on in my life. Take this game, for example. No sooner have I loaded it up and watched its intro in all of its moody, atmospheric glory, than the sun's blasting down on the entire country in general and the AP office in particular. Through a combination of solar radiation raising the ambient air temperature and a complete lack of air conditioning, everyone's been getting really ratty and irritable, resulting in an mood that's been tense, aggressive and incredibly sweaty.

So what's my reading of this situation? Well, I reckon it's a lot to do with Mother (or Ms) Nature wanting to increase my enjoyment of a violent, fightly sort of game set on a desert planet by providing a suitable atmosphere of blood, sweat and tears. Or maybe it's that summer's here at last, and I've been rating my position in the cosmic scale of importance rather too highly. Again.

Apart from the obvious link of the title, Dune 2's got nothing to do with the original Dune game, which was an adventury sort of affair. This time it's kick-ass wargame action and face-stomping all the way, with the only let-up in killing and dying being a spot of heavy construction. Regular readers will no doubt have noted by now that this game's got all hallmarks for getting some sort of gold award for mass destruction, and you'd be right, not because I'm hypersensitive to the appeal of wargames, but because this is one incredibly good game.

Set on Arrakis a good few millennia before those famous Frank Herbert books kick off, Dune 2's based around the premise that Emperor Frederick IV has been an inordinately bad boy with his credit cards, and consequently needs several million tonnes of Spice pretty quickly, or the guys from Galactican Express are going to pay him a visit and break his legs. Or something like that, anyway. (Spice, as you may or may not know, is a mind-altering substance that allows humans to navigate through hyperspace, and so is a massive valuable commodity. It's also unique to the planet Arrakis - the eponymous Dune - and so whoever controls the planet Arrakis, controls the galaxy).

Acting for their own selfish ends (but still answerable to the Emperor) are the Houses, feudal powers ruled by Barons and Counts. Dune's usually controlled by a single House, but in a bid to increase Spice mining levels to a previously-unheard-of level, Freddy boy's worked out a unique incentive scheme. He's set three rival Houses down on the planet and given them the simple choice - work, or die!

This is where you come in, and if you hated the movie, never read the books and are completely uninterested in science fiction in general, then it doesn't matter in the slightest, as the game stands up strongly on its own merits as a war/strategy game. The aim, as with most war things, is total world domination for whichever of the three Houses you choose.

With 22 battles for each house (that's a grand total of 66 scenarios to play through, stat fans) you're going to have your work cut out. The Houses have access to varying equipment, which affects the tactics and gameplay for each scenario. House Artreides, for instance, relies on motorised armoured vehicles for instance, whereas the evil House Harkonnen uses mainly infantry shock troopers.

The game's split into two parts, and it's important to work out whether it's successful combat or Spice harvesting that's required to complete the level. These two parts are connected by the fact that Spice is money, and money's required to build both installations and weapons, so if you spend all your Spice reserves on tanks when you should be harvesting the stuff, you're on open sand without a thumper (Dune joke, ha ha.)


The game stands up strongly on its own merits

SOME SANDY TALKING
At the start of each game, you've got a building site protected by a small force, surrounded by an expanse of uncharted desert. This area remains black until you send troops to investigate, which is vital as you've got to discover Spice fields as well as your enemy's positions. To get your base up and running, you've first got to build a wind generator for power, and then a Spice processing plant. At this point a roving harvester will be flown in and you can send it off to the nearest Spice outcrop.

Round about this stage in most scenarios, you come intro conflict with one (or both) of the enemy Houses, and you get down to the serious business of killing people. In later levels you have the choice of using huge battle tanks and missiles, but in the first few it's a desperate struggle between small groups of infantry and armoured cars.

Combat, like everything else in the game, is controlled using the mouse, and is as simple as clicking on a unit, clicking on a command (attack, retreat, move or guard) and then clicking on the given area that you want it to attack, retreat to or guard. The unit then responds with a cheery and particularly well-sampled 'acknowledged' and will carry on doing whatever you told them to do until you tell them otherwise.

Overriding the 'order' mode is an automatic self-preservation mode, so if a unit is attacked, it'll fight back without being told to and retreat when the odds get too great. This is vital, as once the battle swings into top gear, there's far too much happening to bother about girly infantry units who can't hack it on a real man's battlefield.

With damaged units lurching about pouring smoke, and destroyed infantry screaming with their dying breath before becoming crumpled corpses in the sand, fighting's hugely entertaining, but there's the base development and Spice harvesting to cope with as well. Two or more processing plants are vital for most missions, especially when sandworms start emerging from out of the gritty deep and swallowing your harvesters, but what to build after that depends on you. Radar posts are good for surveying the battlefield, silos are essential to store Spice, and factories can churn out vehicles to replace battlefield losses.

On later levels, you can add armoured towers and walls round your bases, and even buy roving construction sites from off-planet to set up several different bases.

The planning involved is complicated further by each power plant being able to produce a finite amount of energy, and also by the appearance of missile weapons, which can trash an widespread area in one go. To counter these problems, you've got to spread out over a wide area and have lots of little independently-powered sub-bases.

It's a sort of Sim City meets Battle Isle, only I found it more fun than either of them. Being a bit of a Dune fan, I really got into the setting, but even without any background, you'd be hard pressed to not be completely wowed by this. I'd personally go and buy it, and I'm stingier with money than a Fremen is with his bodily liquid waste. (Another Dune joke, seemingly. Don't worry, he's fired. - Ed)


WHO'S IN THE HOUSE?
Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis
  1. They're not going to win any prizes for stylish architecture, but each and every building is vital to your campaign against the other blokes.
  2. These streamlined babies cruise (extremely slowly) around Arrakis and harvest the Spice. It's a bit of a dull job, but so essential you wouldn't believe.
  3. Even as we watch, men in hard hats are standing around in the construction site preparing to build one of these on that spare bit of concrete.
  4. The radar base lets you see all of the battlefield, well, all the bits you've explored anyway. The box shows the area displayed on the main screen.

Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis logo CU Amiga Screen Star

He who controls the Spice... Controls the Universe. We thought that this sounded like a job for Tony Gill, so we gave him a bucket and spade and sent him outing digging for worms in the sands of Dune!

If you ever thought that war games were boring, be prepared to change your mind. Beneath an alien sun on a far-off planet, the elite troops of three rival houses are preparing to hurl themselves against each other in deadly combat. You may pick which of the houses you wish to command, and then you must manoeuvre your troops and plan your overall victory.

Once the enemy finds your base he will keep you under constant attack, and you will find that events will accelerate and hours will pass in a flash as you frantically juggle with all of the options available to you.

The desert world of Dune first appeared in the book of the same name, written by Frank Herbert. The book became a beloved classic for all sci-fi fans as it conjured up a world that was both unbelievably fantastic and yet convincingly possible.

It was a world of unending sand dunes with no trace of water. Here the fearless inhabitants harvested the spice and wore airtight clothes which trapped their sweat and recycled each precious drop. These Fremen tribesmen knew how to survive on this blistering ball of heat and dust, and to prove their manhood they would take part in the sport which men marvelled at throughout the galaxy.

Moving out from the safety of the rocky outcrops they would stand in the open dunes and thump the ground, deliberately attracting the giant worms which moved beneath the sand as effortlessly as sharks in the sea, causing them to rise up out of the depths beneath them. Then with hooks tied to ropes, they would ride these horrors across the desert using their own strength and makeshift reins to prevent the terrifying mounts plunging back into the depths.

The worms of Dune have a mouth whose teeth-ringed maw is capable of swelling men, tanks and aircraft. From the moment man or machine moves onto the surface of the sand the resultant vibrations act as a dinner gong to any passing monster. The prize that the spice gatherers seek is great, but the danger is equally high.

ROOTS
Dune II has its roots in games such as Powermonger, Empire and Sim City. As with all empire building games, your task is to use the income from your money-making enterprises (in this case spice gathering) to fund the creation of new weaponry which can be used to attack your rivals and hence increase your sphere of influence.

This is a well-worn and popular game genre, but it tends to be played in a sedate way and involve lots of tables containing endless facts. There have been some attempts to inject some passion and excitement into the basic idea and they have had their successes (e.g. Mega-Lo-Mania), but this is a serious attempt to turn up the excitement control to fever pitch. The game controls are simple to understand, and the first few levels of the game provide an easy introduction which anyone should be able to complete without giving more than a glance at the slim game manual.

The beauty of this game is that there is no one strategy which must be followed to conquer the opposition. You are free to replay levels continually until you devise a strategy which works. You could choose to scout the surrounding desert and find the enemy camp before they can build up their forces, then risk an early strike and hope to overwhelm him; or you could hold back, bide your time, and wait until you have built up enough heavy weapons before you risk poking your nose out behind your fortifications.

Whatever you do, you can be sure that the computer-controlled opposition will give you a real run for your money. Once you wake the sleeping tiger he will harry you constantly.

The game has a similar objective to that of Powermonger, but there the comparison stops. Powermonger may have looked good, but it was an awkward and ultimately frustrating game. Dune II has the looks and the depths you will want, but the gameplay and the controls are as smooth as silk.

The interface has been carefully designed to be easily understood and used intuitively.

SEEKING A FIRM FOUNDATION
A further complication to your plans for world domination is that you can only build on firm foundation. Rocky outcrops crisscross the sands of Dune and it is on those that you must lay the concrete platforms and erect your factories and Spice Refineries.

Simple rules let you know where you can and cannot build, but even these can be ignored - at a price. A fool builds his house upon the sands, and you may join him if you feel you must, however, you will suffer a constant drain on your money as you pay to repair the foundations.

You may only expand your base by building cheek by jowl with existing buildings, however that means your troops have a long track back from the war zone for repairs and reinforcements. What you need is a mobile construction site which you can drive across the desert, (watch out for Mr. Wiggly!) and set up shop within shelling distance of the enemy. Once you have a forward post in operation you can hopefully churn out heavy units faster than he can replace them.

BUILD IT, OR TAKE IT?
You may decide you joined the expedition to be a soldier and not a construction engineer. Why spend your time, and valuable credits, building a spaceport when there is one for the taking just over the next hill? If you use your forces to pound the opposition into a position where they are on their knees, your troops simply have to move onto the occupying area for it to become your own. Of course you will have to spend a bit of cash on redecorating, perhaps a lick of paint and some new curtains, but after all you would expect some outlay after your Devastator tanks have spent an hour lobbing 190mm shells through the windows.

Smash and grab tactics work well unless you have managed to persuade Fremen tribesmen to act as mercenaries for you. These tribesmen are fanatical fighters and will serve you well in any battle, but they do have the teeny-weeny problem that once they get their teeth into something, they won't stop while one stone is still standing on top of another.

This is the game old-time war-gamers would have died for. It has real-time action with intelligent troops. Place your forces strategically and then leave them to do the business while you are occupied in another corner of the battlefield. The pace is frantic once the balloon goes up, and the addictive gameplay makes it very difficult to hit that Save Game option and leave the battlefield until another day.

It is the deceptively simple gameplay, coupled with the atmospheric sound effects and maddeningly calm voice of the computer which lifts this game out of the war-gamers cul-de-sac and onto the motorway.


DUNE ON THE BIG SCREEN

It fell to cult director David Lynch to attempt the seemingly impossible task of bringing Dune to the big screen, and it is generally agreed by the book's devotees that he failed. He had Agent Cooper from the Twin Peaks series play the part of the hero, Paul Artreides. And who could not forget (or forgive!) his decision to cast the pop star Sting as the villain? (Ah well, not every story can have a happy ending). However, that ill-fated attempt is not quite the end of the story.

When George Lucas had to shipwreck the robot comedy duo - R2D2 and C3PO - he picked a desert planet which had more than a passing resemblance to Frank Herbert's creation. Watch the movie again and you'll see huge skeletal remains of what can only be a sand worm amidst the dunes. When we first meet Han Solo he is heard boasting that he had served his time on the Spice Run. Compare the description of Emperor's Sardaukar Troopers with the similarly heavily armoured troopers under the command of Darth Vader.

Our heroes returned to the same desert world in the Return of the Jedi, where they almost became lunch for a sandworm which surfaced under their floating 'ship of the desert'. More than one poor soul disappears down that ghastly mouth during the action.

THE NOBLE HOUSES

Three ancient Houses have entered the battle for the control of the planet.

House of Artreides
Intelligent and noble, they have an unusual devotion to duty. They are noted for their skills in diplomacy and tend not to strike the first blow. They are about to discover that turning the other cheek only gets you a broken jaw.

House of Ordos
Noted for their trading and merchandising skills, the ruling princess of this clan have little conscience and gain their power through subtle and underhand moves involving sabotage and terrorism. Only their great wealth has protected their reputation being smeared by their long history of trickery and deception.

House of Harkonnen
The terrible Harkonnen House is a dynasty of cruel people, led by a ruthless princess. Promotion is not awarded in the Harkonnen society, it is taken. If a subordinate kills his superior, then he assumes that position and is respected for his action. This house does not appear to be attempting to win the contract by simply harvesting more spice than the others, they have decided to annihilate the opposition.

For each of the three houses you select, there are 10 campaigns, giving a total of 30 war games. Each house has a preference for certain weaponry and you will usually have a sprinkling of their favourite armoury to get you started. The skill levels are graduated to lead you gently into the gameplay, so you won't have to fight the game controls as well as the enemy tanks.

A MENTAT IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED
A veritable Napoleon you may be, but you can't be everywhere at once. Luckily, whichever house you choose to command, each has its own fairy godmother, known as a Mentat, who is always on hand to offer advice and keep you updated on the latest developments on and off the battlefield. The evil hissing voice of your computer is just right, and it is a dead ringer for the late James Mason.

Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis: Cyril, mentat of the House of Artreides
Cyril is the Mentat for the House of Artreides. Golden haired, and with a book under his arm that he has got brains as well as looks. This is the sort of guy your mother wanted you to be.

Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis: Radnor, mentat of the House of Harkonnen
The twisted brain of Radnor is at the disposal of the House of Harkonnen. This guy has no hair at all which means he is either a mad scientist or soemeone who has playing Dune II for far too long.

Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis: Ammon, mentat of the House of Ordos
Ammon is your guide from the house of Ordos. Dark haired (which is never a good sign) he is obviously a bit of a smoothie and very sneaky.