While we're on the subject of 3D, let's talk about how this game's biggest change goes over. At first, the game seemed kinda tricky, and the units didn't seem to look very good. Of course, they have to be relatively low-poly to keep from slowing the game engine down, but some of them looked just weird. Once I zoomed out a bit, though, I had a much easier time managing the playfield, and everything looked just right. Tanks looked like tanks, infantry looked like infantry, and buzzsaws like…um…buzzsaws.
The landscapes are very well done, with beautiful textures making the scenes look almost sloped and pre-rendered, when they're done in real time. Units explode realistically, and some units, mostly Harkonnen, even do splash damage causing everyone around them to feel the shock. The buildings for House Atreides bear a very similar resemblance to the buildings in Dune II, while Ordos and Harkonnen have been given structures with much more appropriate features to them. Harkonnen buildings are all dark red and look as if they were made from the stones of Hell itself, with a very sinister purpose. Flame-cannon guard towers and gallows complement the Harkonnen building assortment, while Ordos' buildings vaguely resemble those of the Protoss from Starcraft, with an esoteric feel to them that suits the Ordos well.
I don't think we're on Arrakis anymore, Toto…
Last but not least are the special effects. Carry-alls leave shadows on the ground that change size as they hit tall buildings, sandworms have crackling static electricity around them as they move through the ground, and tornadoes even toss about on the surface, whipping up sand and garbage and…um…debris, as you can see in the photo above. Tornadoes cause damage to structures and units, but if infantry get too close to the vortex, they get sucked right up and tossed about in the twister for a minute or so. How's that for weather effects?
Sound effects and music are pretty good. The music gets repetitive after a while, and I really miss the dynamic music that Dune II used which was based on your situation in the battle. The Ordos music was decent enough with a sci-fi feel to it, but as music goes, just wasn't anything terrific. Harkonnen and Atreides, however, have much more fitting and worthwhile music to listen to. The sound effects are really good, but they have a distinct flair of Command & Conquer leftover in them. You can almost hear the "k" pronounced when the Ordos troops say "moving", as if the Ordos were Russian. The Atreides and Harkonnen have what I would consider to be "funnier" voices, giving the game a slightly more lighthearted feel, a la Starcraft. It was great to be mired in the middle of a rough battle and then mildly selecting a Vulture only to hear "WHADDYOU WANT?" in your ear. The Harkonnen Buzzsaws have a similar feel, while the Atreides units all have a D&D lawful-good feel to them.
We have wormsign, the likes of which God has never seen!
The movie clips are excellent, in standard Westwood tradition. Voice acting gives the game's plot a very dramatic feel, and the props and images used are right out of the classic movie, giving the game a great amount of continuity and alignment. The game even features some well-known talent for the movie actors, with Michael Dorn of Star Trek fame playing the Duke of the Atreides, and Michael McShane (Friar Tuck in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), playing the Baron of Harkonnen. The other actors and actresses are no less than excellent, and conveyed great performances.