Book Review: Dune II - Insider's Guide

Note: Dune II is one of my all-time favourite videogames.


Dune II - Insider's Guide cover

Title: Dune II - Insider's Guide

While not really a book, I wanted to write about this guide because of two reasons: a) It contains an insane detail about units, mission (maps included), mechanic, AI pattern, and even bugs and limitations of the game engine b) The last chapter narrates the history of Westwood Studios, the game, and of course why it is "Dune II" if it was really the first Real-Time Strategy (RTS) title, both in the genre and in Dune's setting.

This is a labour of love: 328 pages of precise details of each and every unit and building from all factions (including the non-playable ones), going so deep so as to even mention differences between the original retail version and the 1.07 patch when they apply (regarding bugs, changes in unit attributers, map fixes...). If you were to recreate/remake the game, apart from playing it, this should be your main reference material.

We have nice screenshots of all the items present in the game encyclopedia, plus maps of every mission for every faction, and extra diagrams to explain attack damages, blast radius of area weapons, recommended placements for turrets, and other tactical strategies.

There is a generic tactics section, and the appendices are as interesting as the main chapters: bugs, a technical description of the game map format, some exploits and hacks you can do (including making the beta demo playable), and of course the history lesson, called "The Battle of Dune"; ~28 pages explaining the history behing both Dune games released in the 90s (Dune, and this title, Dune II), the why, and the early years of Westwood Studios.

A must read both for those who like the game and for those who wish to learn how the first PC RTS with mouse and keyboard came to be.

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