Thursday, 4 July 2019

FRANK HERBERT'S DUNE


There was a time when Dune could've been a behemoth of a franchise. Alejandro Jodorowsky's early treatment from the 70s became a legend in its own right and even inspired the likes of Star Wars and Alien. After David Lynch's underwhelming adaptation, the SyFy channel brought it to the small screen in the early 2000s with a small budget to match. So far, it's the best there is (that is until Denis Villeneuve gives us his inevitably awesome take) but I cannot forgive it for siring Frank Herbert's Dune, Cryo's broken attempt at a video game on PC and PlayStation 2.

Developed by Widescreen Games under the guidance of Cyro's publishing division, Dune would ultimately be the last ever game from that notorious French studio. While it came out on PC in some European territories in November 2001, other countries, including those in the English speaking world would have to wait until April 2002. Europe also got a PlayStation 2 port at the same time. It doesn't seem like anything was done in those extra five months beyond cajoling Dreamcatcher Interactive into handling some of the distribution. It remains a broken, almost unplayable mess - to the point where they couldn't even spell the author's name right on the title screen.

Who's this 'Franck' Herbert I keep hearing about? (left PC)
The PC version's "Exit Game" option won't work. Press Alt-F4 to quit (right PC)

Let's begin with the PC version. You can tell something is off from the very first cutscene. While these tiresome story beats are commendably portrayed using the in-game engine, the timing and editing is all off. Dialogue has obviously been programmed to coincide with an on-screen action but it hasn't been calibrated to actually fit. As such, the voice over will carry on and overlap the beginning of the next sentence. From what I've played so far, no other cutscenes suffer from this and the PS2 port attempted to fix it by slowing down the video but not the audio. It's a hasty fix that has the unfortunate effect of making every sentence end with a long, awkward pause. From what I can gather this is not due to an error on modern computers - I found one user review from much closer to the time (2003 to be exact) that mentioned it too. I expect the professional reviewers felt it would be fixed before release or not worth spending the time over. How IGN gave it 82% I'll never know!

When you finally get to the main menu, you have the option to play a tutorial. I recommend going through it at least to get to grips with a somewhat quirky yet functional control scheme. It will also go through a number of puzzles and situations that you will encounter frequently throughout the game, in particular, the stealth takedowns.

You can attack from behind using your knife named Krys (left PC)
or clumsily aim your laser gun to shoot (right PC)

We begin the main story on the desert plains of Arakkis - also known as Dune - where Paul Atreides escorts his mother to the safety of an underground city of the native Fremen. You see, there's a war on Arakkis between the Atreides and the Harkonnen families over control of a spice known as Melange, an elixir with mystical properties that prolongs life, and this has led to much of Paul's family to be slaughtered.

This spice is all over Dune and can be seen in the opening section of the game. Pay attention to the colour of the sand. The darker orange areas are Spice but for the purpose of the game will act like quicksand and slow you down. It won't be long before you encounter a colossal sandworm, an imposing beast that swims through the Arrakeen sands, and it is here where you'll encounter some major issues with the gameplay.

While this set piece remains visually impressive, surviving the attack will not just frustrate but aggravate. The camera is now locked into a position that initially suggests you'll have to run right but after a couple of game over screens, you'll realise you need to high-tail it towards the screen, just where any obstacles - like the molasses that is Melange - are hidden from view. First-time players will no doubt die several times before they make it to the end of this stage (I had to watch a playthrough to eventually find the right route). Their punishment: watch through every lengthy, terribly edited and unskippable cutscenes again.

You can gather mission info Sietch HQ (left PC)
Starting a new mission (right PC)

Things get a little better after this opening section. You are placed in the Fremen rebel HQ known as the Sietch where you are seen as their foretold saviour. You can explore the area freely, chatting to the residents or visiting market stalls. It also acts as a hub of sorts between missions.

Missions mostly consist of stealthily dispatching enemies with your knife before inevitably being spotted. If you are, you're knife suddenly becomes useless and the only damage you can inflict will be with your laser gun. You can't just shoot like any other standard third-person actioner, as you'll first need to lock on by holding the right mouse button. It's clunky, unnecessary but thankfully the game rarely gets chaotic enough for it to be truly an issue once you get to grips with it.

Drinking water replenishes some of your health (left PS2)
Fill up your water gauge by taking down enemies with your Krys (right PS2)

What will be an issue is the obscene lack of ammo. The game wants you to be stealthy and pick off the enemy guards one-by-one with your knife. Yet, they're so sensitive to your approach that 60% of the time you'll have to resort to a gun fight. Each guard takes 2-3 hits (in the early sections at least) and there simply isn't enough bullets for each of them. If you allow enough errant guards to spot you, it could be a long time before you realise you're stuck. There's nothing left to do in this situation but die. Or restart the level. Or quit playing, which is my prefered option.

Ammo reserves may have been botched by the development team, but the health system fares somewhat better. There are two gauges at the bottom left of the screen. The green bar is your physical health but the blue bar is your water reserves. Due to the harsh desert environment of Dune, water is scarce and can have an invigoring effect on the body. You can drink some water for some health at any time which would be commendable if the shooting mechanics weren't so weak.

Pickups are few and far between. Treasure your ammo (left PS2) and water distillers (right PS2)

There are different things to like and hate between the PC and PlayStation 2 version. The former has better visuals and framerate (naturally) while the latter is locked to a slower 50hz thanks to its European exclusivity. On the flip side, the emulation means you can take advantage of save states and a turbo feature - a godsend for such punishing trial-and-error gameplay. The PC original will only save in between missions, and some of them can be quite lengthy. Apart from some testing, most of my playthrough was on the PS2 version for this reason alone, and the support of a control pad doesn't hurt either. It lacks a dedicated walking button that's useful for the stealth takedowns. Instead, it relies on the analogue stick for speed of movement, but I found it to be overall a more polished experience by comparison. It's all relative though.

Beyond the bugs, boredom and bad design, Frank Herbert's Dune is filled with wasted potential. It was pushed to market too soon to try and recoup some money to save the struggling Cryo, but its poor sales did nothing for it. Cryo closed its doors soon after. I'm not the biggest fan of Cryo - they were always style-over-substance, graphics-over-gameplay - but they often had an off-kilter experimental streak that made for some curious oddities. Sadly, Frank Herbert's Dune is not one of them. Avoid.



To download the PC game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWnd to run on modern systems. nGlide 3D Wrapper (included) must be installed. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 391 Mb.  Install Size: 555 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


To download the PlayStation 2 version, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses PCSX2 to emulate the game on PCs. XInput (X-Box One / X-Box 360) controllers supported. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 479 Mb.  Install Size: 718 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

PLAYSTATION 2

PLAYSTATION 2


WINDOWS


WINDOWS


Frank Herbert's Dune (the game) is © Cryo Interactive
Frank Herbert's Dune (the mini series) is © Victor Television Productions Inc & Beta Film
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

http://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2019/01/queen-eye.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2018/09/men-in-black-game.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-thing.html

19 comments:

  1. I'm soooo impatient for Denis Villeneuve's Dune film that I am thrilled whenever I see a mention of Dune, even if it's in a negative way. More Dune content, more Dune content, more Dune content!

    At first, I was confused when I saw this negative review of Cryo's Dune, because I was sure I had seen a positive review of Cryo's Dune on this very site. I had to type "Dune" in the search engine to clear up the confusion. There are indeed two different Dune games from Cryo, and apparently the 1992 game is the good one, not this one. I will be satisfied with that, then. Yet, I still want more Dune content! Aaaargh, it's so frustrating.

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    1. I'm super psyched for the new Dune too! Villeneuve is perhaps the best director working in Hollywood at the moment. Blade Runner 2049 was stunning.

      There are more Dune game out there such as Westwood Studio's series of strategy games (Dune II & it's expanded Mega Drive game, Dune 2000 & Emperor: Battle for Dune). I'm saving them to coincide with the film's release whenever that may be.

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  2. Yes on Blade Runner 2049, and I just watched Arrival and Sicario again too, to remind myself of Villeneuve's talent. He has assembled such an impressive cast for Dune that it's bound to be a success. (No Feyd-Rautha in the first half though, strangely. Perhaps he was afraid the character would distract attention from the young Paul, as Sting did to Kyle MacLachlan.)

    It's a good idea to save the other Dune games until the film's release, since they probably contain story spoilers, and many people try to avoid those. We only have to wait till the end of 2020. Not long...

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  3. Thank you so much for this man!! I played this briefly back in the day when it came out, but my PC at the time wasn't able to run it for crap. I know it's not the best game by any means, but I've always wanted to play thru it anyways!

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    1. You're welcome! There are some neat ideas in there. I think it needed an extra six months of development and several rounds of effective testing to be good. In its current state it's too broken and uneven to be enjoyable.

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  4. Utter rubbish.

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  5. Hi Biff,
    When you find time, please look at these games;
    Master Of Dimensions : https://www.old-games.ru/game/download/5737.html (not working)
    The Pagemaster : http://www.legendsworld.net/site/download.php?mirror=2316 (CD change problem)

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    Replies
    1. I've not played either of them but Master of Dimensions looks interesting. I've added them both to my request list.

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  6. Here are some items you could remove from your request list. I am the person who complained on this site a while ago that the adventures from Kheops studio don't work on modern systems. I have now accidentally stumbled upon a solution online, so I have an obligation to inform people about the fix:

    They should go to http://downloads.fdossena.com/Projects/WineD3D/Builds/ which apparently is a Wine build for using DirectX on Linux, but happens to work on Windows as well. The main clash in these games seems to be with Microsoft's DirectX 9. So, people should download the WineD3DForWindows_3.0-staging.zip folder. It is important to choose that version, and not anything before or after it. They should then extract the folder. They should then add the d3d9, libwine and wined3d dll files into the installed game folder of any later Kheops game which uses DirectX 9. The games should run perfectly smoothly now.

    This fix has been tested as working on all the newer Kheops titles, from the late 2000s: Nostradamus, The Secrets of Da Vinci, Dracula 3, Safecracker (2006), Cleopatra: A Queen's Destiny, Destination: Treasure Island + Return to Mysterious Island 2.

    This fix is not meant for the earlier Return to Mysterious Island, Egypt 3/The Egyptian Prophecy, Echo: Secrets of the Lost Cavern, or Voyage: Journey to the Moon. They are from the early 2000s, and still run imperfectly on Windows 10.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Good find James! A lot of Khoeps titles are still sold on Steam or elsewhere which is why I've stayed away from them. Don't know how good they are on Windows 10 though so this is excellent info. I wonder if any other games will benefit from it

      Delete
    2. PS, I had to delete a post from PC Games Collection as it contained a download link for a game still sold, but he seems just a grateful :)

      FYI: Return from Mytherious Island 2 (and the first one) can be bought on STEAM

      https://store.steampowered.com/app/277110/Return_to_Mysterious_Island/

      Delete
    3. Awww, sorry Biffman, I did not know that, sorry.

      By the way, when this old issue was solved, suddenly there was a hope with another game...

      Look guys, I'm very obsessed with making an old game archive. I'm not interested in new games. Maybe that's why I'm using a fairly old system. Here it is;

      https://mypcgamescollection.blogspot.com/

      You can see my obsession is top notch but this is another story, he he...

      ... one game, just one game in my archive is unplayable. This game is Kane And Lynch: Dead Men.

      Why is it still in the archive? Because it works, but it's unplayable under Windows XP. The game is running smoothly on all other operating systems but not on my XP. The game appeared in the XP era so the system requirements are perfectly fit. It freezes every 3-4 seconds and this is a video card driver issue. I know that but no driver support to my video card anymore and I don't want to change my system. I am a man of standards and I don't like changes.

      I have tried virtual machines, old drivers etc, but nothing works. Now, is there any solutions for my problem?

      Sorry for my english, I'm using Google translator.

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    4. For Windows XP users,

      You must use "WineD3DForWindows_1.8.6-staging.zip" not "WineD3DForWindows_3.0-staging.zip"

      ...and thank you again James B. You will always be remembered.

      Delete
    5. You are right that a lot of Kheops titles are on Steam or GOG, but not all of them. I can't find Echo: Secrets of the Lost Cavern or The Secrets of Da Vinci there, for example.

      I don't know if any other games can benefit from this WineD3D tweak. You can experiment, though! I notice you are looking at games from the 2000s now, such as this Dune game, which is great.

      Delete
    6. DxWnd and DgVoodoo has opened up a lot of doors! Hopefully this will lead to more! I always have to check if a game is sold - don't want to tread on the toes of developers. If only some of them did a better job supporting them.

      Delete
  7. That's truly an amazing collection. You've got everything that could be played on Windows XP, it seems!

    I don't know how you can fix your old driver problem. Maybe Biffman knows. I tried to hang onto my old Vista computer for as long as possible, too, but eventually I was forced to give it up and get a newer system. I fear you may eventually have to do the same. As well as receiving no more official updates, you are also more vulnerable than us to virus attacks. You may suddenly lose everything at any moment, unless you have backups of all your games on a cloud or on another system.

    Most old games ARE playable on Windows 10, so you shouldn't fear upgrading. Many will require some kind of tweaking, but a solution can usually be found, if one searches for it. The whole point of sites like Biffman's is to make old games playable on newer systems. At a glance, I see the top of your list includes Black Dahlia and Blade Runner and The Gene Machine and the Discworld series and Chewy and Fable and The X-Files, all of which have packages on this site. Chronomaster and Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller have packages in Zomb's Lair. Most of the rest have modern packages on GOG or Steam.

    If you want to hang onto your Windows XP system, then that's fine. Just stay offline, and perhaps you'll last for years, who knows? Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reply James.

      All of my games on quality physical CDs and DVDs as in the good old days. They are not HDD iso images and all proper patches into that separate CDs or DVDs. Ready to play as in youngest times. BTW I'm 45 years old...

      These are collected since 1997. If you ask to me about non PC games on my archive, they are embedded emulation games and perfectly working as the other native PC titles. So all of them are PC games for me. I have updating my collection almost every week or month.

      Good luck with your life.

      Delete
  8. Ah, that's perfect. One big drawback in my modern laptop is that I don't have any CD or DVD drives! The makers of these modern systems just assume that everyone downloads everything. You have a big advantage in that regard.

    45 is still classified as young... Well, in fields such as politics, at least.

    ReplyDelete