War of Assassins
Gene Roddenberry, Chris Carter, Arthur C. Clarke, and Frank Herbert, what do all these people have in common? They are all visionaries who's inspired works are science fiction universes which are as timeless as they are intriguing. In this instance, however, we're only concerned with one such universe, the one created by Frank Herbert in his now-classic book: Dune. Perhaps one of the most diverse stories ever written, Dune has inspired at least two major cinematic reproductions, and no less than five video games, a board game, a card game, and various other iterations of Dune.
Dune dates back pretty much as far as RTS (Real Time Strategy) games go. Some argue that, in fact, Dune was the very first base/unit building and resource gathering RTS ever made, beating WarCraft by a short while. Whether this is or is not correct is irrelevant, the point is Dune is one of the games that have set the rules by which all other RTSs are judged, and thusly is held under a larger microscope than many other games. As the fourth installment of the Dune RTS series (Dune, Dune II, and Dune 2000 were its predecessors), Emperor has certainly come a long way from the days of the first game. Featuring a fully 3D engine and a game of a much larger scale than the previous three.
Since I'm sure we all know the storyline by now, I'll elaborate a bit on where the game focuses. In the game, you fight for either House Atreides the noble house, House Harkonnen the vile house of destruction, or House Ordos, the deceitful "stealth" type house in the War of Assassins to gain control of Arrakis ("Dune") for the presence of the spice Melange. Gameplay follows pretty closely along the lines of a standard Dune game, with a bit of that Westwood flare that makes Command & Conquer such a beloved series. Anyone that played Dark Reign should be fairly familiar with it, since Dark Reign was something of a clone of Dune. Base construction involves erecting your construction yard which enables you to construct your buildings, and building out your tech tree from there. The top unit of your tree is the palace for your house which features a map-length air based weapon of mass destruction, though, in reality, it can be argued that the sub-house buildings are the best. Sub-houses, though found sequentially in the single player campaign according to the storyline, play their biggest role in multiplayer. Each sub-house can produce a few special units which give a major advantage, though you can only select two sub-houses to have during a multiplayer game. Some of the sub-houses include the Fremen (an elite infantry group native to Dune) and House Ix (provides anti-cloak mines and holo-projector tanks to make your army appear larger than it is.) But this is boring background info; onto something a bit more exciting.
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