Frank Klepacki
Dune 2000


4.0
excellent

Review

by Aeri USER (36 Reviews)
January 11th, 2020 | 8 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “He who controls the spice, controls the universe!!!”

Navigating the disappointingly limited catalogue of Dune video game adaptations, especially considering that a new title hasn’t seen the light of day in nearly two decades, has always been a rather frustrating affair.

Starting positively, 1992’s Dune was generally well received, with the following real-time strategy Dune II often hailed a pride and joy of the Westwood Studios’ era (outside of Command & Conquer entries, of course), but following titles were often considered lacklustre. Despite drawing from one of the most brilliant science fiction universes of all time, Emperor: Battle for Dune’s new and improved 3D graphics did little to prevent criticism towards AI and RTS gameplay issues, and the less said about 2001’s adventure game-esque Frank Herbert’s Dune, the better. We are potentially due one or two more modern releases with the hugely anticipated Denis Villeneuve film on the horizon, but this isn’t for some time now and as such is highly susceptible to disappointment or change. Truthfully, it’s very possible another official Dune 2D RTS will never appear, which ultimately leaves Dune 2000.

Technically a remake of the acclaimed Dune II, Dune 2000 was something of an oddball of the series: neither innovative or anything particularly memorable in the eyes of fans, the game really only served to expand the franchise’s market through Playstation and Windows 95/98 release, and this shallow prerogative really showed at times. Gameplay-wise, it was mostly cut-and-paste Dune II, and (compared to other titles of the same era) didn’t really meet 1998 player expectations in terms of quality. All in all, Dune 2000 was forgettable, except for one wonderful thing: the Frank Klepacki soundtrack.

American composer Frank Klepacki should be instantly recognisable to any real-time strategy player, if not by actual name then at least by his unmistakable catalogue. Joining Westwood Studios at a mere 17 years old, Klepacki’s work on the Command & Conquer franchise and other endeavours has been met with overwhelmingly positive response, effectively considered staple of 1990’s PC gaming history by modern genre enthusiasts. Mostly working within the comfortable boundaries of electronic and rock-orientated material, the likes of ‘Hell March’, ‘Act on Instinct’ and ‘Mechanical Man’ are certainly memorable and pack plenty of punch, but they’re not exactly what you’d call cinematic. Dune 2000’s soundtrack? It’s very cinematic.

Perhaps taking certain inspiration from the critically acclaimed orchestral soundtrack to 1997’s Total Annihilation, 1998’s Dune 2000 soundtrack is loaded to the very brim with equally theatrical numbers at every turn. Opening piece ‘Harkonnen Battle’ immediately sets the tone with huge, smashing brass instrumentals and a constant sense of urgency through militaristic marching band percussion, extremely befitting the villains of Herbert’s classic novel. These elements are mirrored in the similar ‘Fight For Power’, again relying heavily on massive bursts of orchestral climaxes, before backing down to simmer briefly and rally the necessary energy to again continue the attack. Elsewhere, one of the most “Command & Conquer-esque” tracks ‘Rise of Harkonnen’ is certainly more electronically infused compared to others, but the same sense of urgent scramble to accumulate as much as possible before impending attack is at the very forefront.

That’s not to say that the entire album is centred on intense battle anthems, however. In fact, compared to the amount of tense downtime, these feel few and far between. Again similar to Total Annihilation’s brooding, mysterious material, ‘The Ambush’, ‘Enter the Ordos’ and ‘Plotting’ feel constantly thick with calm calculation, ominously letting time pass by whilst still never feeling at ease. In other words, perfect for feeling stuck on an alien planet filled with giant killer worms. Speaking of which, ‘Spice Scouting’ is absolutely stunning: want to imagine sinking despairingly into the sand clogged jaws of a sandworm, whilst confined within the claustrophobic metal shell of a harvester that should protect but will ultimately kill you? ‘Spice Scouting’s gut wrenchingly desperate choral and strings section is exactly what you’re looking for.

Now, admittedly my own experience of the Dune 2000 soundtrack is probably heavily biased: my father was an avid fan of most real-time strategy titles of the era, with Dune 2000 being chief among them. As such, I cannot honestly disassociate Klepacki’s soundtrack from the memory of seemingly endless occurrences that I would spend watching over my father’s shoulder, perched on the sofa arm with studious attention as House Atreides battered the villainous House Harkonnen into submission. That being said, it does stand out as an excellent soundtrack. Despite conjoined with a release generally considered underwhelming, even the thrill of seeing your base beginning to thrive with ‘Under Construction’s electronic pitter-patter was extremely satisfying, and fan favourite ‘Rise of Harkonnen’ easily remains one of Klepacki’s most signature tracks. Should another Dune RTS never see the light of day, Dune 2000 at the very least offered something worth remembering, and always an absolute pleasure to revisit.

”Long live the fighters!!!”




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user ratings (1)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Aerisavion
January 11th 2020


2771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The second part in my three part RTS soundtrack reviews series. I absolutely adore Dune and cannot wait for Denis to do us proud.



As always, feedback appreciated.





Side note:

UNIT LOST

UNIT LOST

UNIT LOST

UNIT LOST



JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2020


27265 Comments


Love the level of detail here, really clear read.

My only experience of this franchise was that terrible David Lynch film with Kyle Maclachlan looking adorably gormless and Sting starring in a knife fight because why the shit not - didn't exactly draw me into the mythos ;]

Digging: Coaltar of the Deepers - Come Over to the Deepend

Aerisavion
January 11th 2020


2771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Johnny



Haha yeah unfortunately that was a pretty damaging film for the franchise, but give the book a go if you get the chance. It’s honestly one of the best sci fi releases out there

Snake.
January 11th 2020


22312 Comments


not a strong reader tbh should i give the books a shot anyway

Aerisavion
January 11th 2020


2771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I’d honestly say give them a go, at least the first one if not the whole series

Meridiu5
January 11th 2020


3132 Comments


The books are legendary. The sci fi miniseries isnt bad either

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Supercoolguy64
January 12th 2020


9517 Comments


just picked up the original book the other day, pretty dope

Aerisavion
January 12th 2020


2771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Niiiiiice



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