A beginning is a very delicate time. So, how to start? With some dunes, which shall be stabilised by planting grass on them? With megalomaniacal visions for a cinematic realisation of a highly sophisticated science fiction novel? At the source of a flood of real time strategy games, or one step further at the archetype, which got copied ad nauseam? All of this led, on more or less direct ways, to Dune 2000, a remake of its predecessor Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, with an updated interface, strongly inspired by Command & Conquer, and aesthetics that look like taken right out of Lynch‘s take on the space opera. A melange of many great examples, but does it live up to them? Does it dare to step out of its source’s shadows? Does it offer anything new? Or is it just an unoriginal rehash, simple cash cow cosmetics for a classic game? Let’s take a look!
A strategy game set in the D&D universe. A sequel of Stronghold? No - Fantasy Empires follows the futuristic footsteps of Cyber Empires. On the surface, not a lot has changed in the gameplay: Competing armies are strategically shuffled around a world map... until they meet, which is when the games zooms into a real-time battle screen on which the player can even control one soldier himself.
Nevertheless, there have been quite a number of noteworthy changes in the details. Just like in Stronghold, the player can create his own 'character': The class and the attributes of this commander will influence the playing style. For example, chaotic characters have the benefit of strong necromancy spells with which they can build up large undead armies quickly. On the other hand, their provinces don't generate as much income. Magicians can weave global spells more easily. Dwarves command stronger conventional troops of their own race. And so on.
This is an action game which is commonly seen as the great-grandfather of all ego shooters. It was the year 1992 when this virus, disguised as Shareware, was travelling across busy schoolyards and noisy scene parties, spreading from drive to drive. The shooting orgy by American star programmer John Carmack had an irresistable appeal to the teenagers who hadn't yet been cauterised by mass-produced imitations of this ego perspective, and the extra episodes which were available for sale made John Carmack a millionaire overnight.