The reign of House Corrino is ended. Another House must take its place. (...) Under the terms of the Great Convention, a limited form of warfare, known as the War of Assassins, has been declared by three factions: House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Ordos. (...) The war will be limited to the planet Arrakis. Use of atomics is forbidden. So long as these rules are followed, the Guild will not interfere. But understand this: during this conflict, and following it, no matter what the outcome...the spice must flow.
- Shafla of the Spacing Guild, opening narration
A Real-Time Strategy game set in the Dune universe.Released by Westwood Studios in 2001, Emperor: Battle for Dune is a sequel to Dune II and Dune 2000 covering the War of Assassins as the three fractions House Atreides, House Ordos, and House Harkonen fight for control of Arrakis and various subfractions, the Fremen, the Ix, the Tleilaxu, the Sardaukar, and the Spacing Guild add a level of customization and move the plot along.The Padishah Emperor is dead, and the Spacing Guild presents the three great houses with a challenge: A War of Assassins for control of Arrakis, with the victor being crowned the new ruling house.
Abnormal Ammo: While their equivalents in other houses simply use automatic rifles, the basic Ordos trooper in employs a chemical projector. Also, the Inkvine Catapult, which heaves sticky, toxic, and flammable gunk.
Action Bomb: The Ordos Saboteur. Emperor also gives them an airborne version, the Air Mine, which rather than simply blowing up on contact with an air unit, instead unleashes a Macross Missile Massacre. They also have an "Eye in the Sky" scout unit, which when detonated air-drops a saboteur to the ground below it, potentially directly into an enemy structure. There's also the Ix Infiltrator, which is essentially an Attack Drone version of the Saboteur.
Alliance Meter: Of a sorts. You can undertake specific missions to earn the trust of any one of the five sub-factions, each one giving you access to Elite Mooks with various capabilities. Though the Spacing Guild always turn against you by the game's end. There are limitations, however. Certain factions will not ally with others in the campaign, but in multiplayer you can select any two before a match.
Specifically, the Tleilaxu and Ix are outright hostile to each other, while the Sardaukar and Fremen often clash with the former as well. That's not to say you can't have Sardaukar/Fremen and Tleilaxu allies, but be careful which missions you pick; some will require you to attack your allies' faction, which breaks your alliance.
Alternate Continuity: Emperor is treated as sequel to Dune 2000 but there are some differences between the two continuities. Emperor Corrino's death is depicted as it takes place in the Ordos ending of Dune2000 but it is mentioned to have taken place in Kaitain. The House leaderships are also Retconned to their Emperor incarnation, which isn't too hard to achieve since we never saw them in Dune 2000.
Of course, the whole series is an alternate continuity to Book-Dune and the 1984 Movie
Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Atredies and Ordos can use APCS, but they're only slightly awesome. The Atredies one is armed with a standard gun turret and can use an Invisibility Cloak while not moving, and the Ordos one is a very nimble Hover Tank armed with rockets.
Bad Ass Army: The Sardaukar and the Fremen, both of which have to be convinced of your worthiness before they'll help you.
BFG: Both the Atreides Kindjal Infantry and Ordos Mortar Infantry carry around a big missile launcher and mortar respectively. They must deploy before they can use these weapons first due to their heavy weight.
Civil Warcraft: One mission in the Harkonnen campaign between Copec and Gunseng.
Colour Coded Chararcters: The Atreides are blue, the Harkonnens are red and the Ordos are green. This more stereotypical colour scheme is different to that seen in the book (and faithfully represented by the David Lynch film) in which the Atreides wear green with a red hawk symbol and the Harkonnens wear blue with a gryphon symbol. The game also substitutes that gryphon with a more stereotypically 'evil' ram's head.
Construct Additional Pylons: Nearly every level necessitates you building your own base, and then further building additional windtraps to provide power for all your structures. Your territories can be attacked by the other houses, in which case you are able to make use of existing bases you may have built yourself previously.
Cool Plane: Ornithopters, aircraft that use actual flapping wings to achieve flight.
Critical Existence Failure: Averted, with units degrading in performance as they are damaged — except for the Harkonnen; as one of their advantages, units function at full ability up until they are destroyed, likely to compensate for their lack of a Healing Factor or medic-type units.
Deflector Shields: Employed by the Ordos in a few of their tanks. When a laser beam hits the shield, both units are destroyed.
Doppleganger Attack: The Ixian Projector can create seemingly harmless duplicates of any unit, in order to fool an enemy. In truth, while they rapidly lose health and disappear upon taking damage or colliding with an enemy unit, their weapons are fully functional. Projectors thus become Game Breakers once you have access to Harkonnen missile tanks.
Dueling Dubs: Occured during the "silver age of piracy" in Russia and nearby countries. One was made up by Dyadushka Research (of The NeverhoodGag Dub fame) and published by City, while the other one is only known to be published by Fargus (of the fame of everything else). The first one, while being less widespread, is generally considered to be superior. * And not just translation-wise, actually, with such details as putting the whole thing from 4 CDs to just 2 without losing much of the cutscenes' original quality, and making the new license agreement acknowledge that it is indeed a pirated copy of the game, along with the "All Rights Ignored" label nearby.
Emotionless Girl: The Ordos mentat, although she does not seem to be a construct like the mentat from Dune 2000.
Expy: Numerous characters are intentionally modeled after the David Lynch movie. The Atreides mentat's appearance and mannerisms resemble Thufir Havat. Rakan Harkonnen is a less insane version of Vladimir Harkonnen. Gunseng is Feyd-Rautha while Copec is a more psychopathic Rabban from the movie.
The Engineer: Used to capture and repair structures. The Harkonnen version carries a pistol for self-defence.
The Evil Prince: Copec Harkonnen. Gunseng as well, but he's less savage and focused on winning the war.
Experience Points: Your units earn them. Atreides infantry that reach maximum level can be sent back into their barracks; the unit is Lost Forever but all subsequently produced units of that type start with an extra level. Do this multiple times to be able to produce elite units on command.
Fire-Forged Friends: Post- Dune 2000, relations between the Atreides and Fremen are strained until an enemy assault on Caladan during a diplomatic meeting between the two helps them iron things out. Notable in that Duke Achillus himself fights on foot in the mission where this occurs, probably a big reason the Fremen decide the Atreides are worthy allies.
Fun with Acronyms: The Guild NIAB tank in Emperor, generally thought to stand for "Navigator In A Box," which can be used if you ally with the Guild. They also have the non-usable NIAP, the "Navigator In A Plane."
The Fundamentalist: House Tleilaxu are "religious zealots who preach ceaselessly about the evils of machines." It both goes with and contrasts with the original novels: the Tleilaxu appeared as amoral traders of squicky technology. In reality, they were a religious order, hiding their true nature from the universe.
Genre Blind: House Ordos, of all people. They trust the Tleilaxu much more than the other factions. Their technology is also unsuited to Dune warfare, as they rely heavily on shields for defence, whose vibrations attract sandworms.
Although they do use a lot of hovering tanks, which don't attract worms.
Genre Savvy: House Ordos again. They have no other choice, considering that their military might doesn't even compare to that of the Atreides or the Harkonnen. Also, for all their trust towards the Tleilaxu, they are the only ones prepared when the Tleilaxu make their move.
Hate Plague: What the Ordos' "Chaos Lightning" super weapon does to enemies.
Hologram Projection Imperfection: The holograms seen in the intro have a very distinctive type of fritzing where the red, green and blue channels of the hologram fail to line up, similar to effects seen in early colour film and TV.
Humongous Mecha: Many of the Atreides armored units are Mecha, as is the Harkonnen Devastator. This may be a call back to Tiberian Sun.
Invisibility Cloak: Fremen units are perpetually invisible, unless badly injured. This is meant to represent their skill at moving and hiding in the desert. Invisibility is also employed by the Ix Infiltrator, the Atreides APC and all scout units.
Irony: The Tleilaxu seeing machines as being evil, while creating reanimated corpses and other biological monstrosities.
Kill It with Fire: A favourite tactic of House Harkonnen; they have both flamethrower infantry and flame tanks, both of which are capable of instantly killing infantry. The latter is also very effective against buildings. For whatever reason, Inkvine fluid also sets infantry on fire.
Mouth of Sauron: House Ordos seems to be lead by a mini Hive Mind called the Executrix, with what appears to be a cyborg or ghola as their voice.
Musical Nod: Frank Klepacki's part of the soundtrack is especially guilty for this. Prepare to spot riffs from his previous work, Rise of the Harkonnen, quite a lot...
...and then there are Ride the Worm and The Fremen using the same roughly-two-minute tune.
Suspiciously Similar Song: ...and then there's also Battle of the Atreides, which includes an orchestral riff taken from Flight of the Bumblebee, with several modifications.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Baron Rakan Harkonnen pretends to listen to Copec's version of the war. In truth, he has spies in Arrakis giving him an exact rundown of victories and losses.
Our Zombies Are Different: Allying with the Tleilaxu gives you access to Contaminators, which convert slain infantry into more of themselves. The scary part as that they can also do this to vehicles with their Leech unit.
The Ordos intend to put Shaddam IV back on this throne... as a Ghola, a resurrected, conditioned duplicate of a formerly living individual. In addition, they use Gholas during the campaign as to replenish their forces. Also, in order to trick lesser factions into gaining their trust. It works pretty well, allowing such unnatural alliance as Ordos/Fremen.
Pragmatic Villainy: Gunseng is unusually respectful of the rules for a Harkonnen. On the other hand, when the "rules" are that of the Great Convention... One wonders how much the Harkonnens bribed The Guild to allow a firefight to break out on one of the highliners.
Psychopathic Manchild: Copec only has hints of this until the sacking of Caladan when he just loses it upon learning that Duke Achillus died during the assault.
Gunseng... Really isn't much better at that point. At least he directs his violence at someone instead of just jumping around throwing a tantrum.
Required Secondary Powers: The Fremen Fedaykin wear earplugs to protect themselves from their own sonic weapons. In gameplay terms, this also means that opposing Fedaykin cannot harm one another at range.
"Risk"-Style Map: More dynamic than in earlier games. The computer-controlled rival factions can try to retake territories you've captured and you can defend them with most of the base you built carried over. Sometimes, the CPU will attack an area that you started off with control of, and you will have to defend a pre-built base. Also, the sub-faction units become available depending on which map areas you conquer. This adds replay value because you can either try to push into enemy territory and take their stronghold in as few missions as possible, or you can keep taking territories until you control almost the whole map.
Shown Their Work: Emperor is full of references and nods towards the Duniverse, some of which are incredibly obscure. Whatever problems the game may have had, it is clear that the team in charge knew the story quite well. Not to mention the cutscenes, whose visuals closely match that of the film - even to the point of recreating some of the scenes.
Skippable Boss: In the last mission you can walk right past most of the enemy base and army and take out the target with your starting units, regardless of faction.
Sigil Spam: Many structures incorporate their House's logo into their very architecture if not simply having it stuck on the side. This extends to units, such as the Atreides Minotaurus, a Humongous Mecha, the cockpit of which is shaped like an eagle's head and body.
Single-Biome Planet: The titular world and damn near every other planet, including Sigma Draconis, the frozen Ordos homeworld.
Spell My Name with an S: Several planet names are spelled differently from the mainstream Dune universe, presumably in error; the capital planet Kaitain is spelled 'Kaitan' and the prison planet Salusa Secundus is spelled 'Selusa Secundus' for instance.
Spawn Broodling: The Tleilaxu has two units that can do this, one is for infantry, the other for vehicles.
It is not made clear what became of Shafla, Cilix and Elara. The lab was most likely destroyed when the Emperor Worm was bombed, and we do see what appears to be it's wreckage. The final shot of the ending suggests something happened, but that's it.
Worker Unit: The ubiquitous, beetle-like Spice Harvester (presented exactly as they appeared in the 1984 film) and the Construction Yard. Carryalls also function as such, automatically ferrying harvesters to and from spice fields. Tyically these carryalls are entirely automated and uncontrollable (though they will automatically ferry a damaged unit to an available repair pad), but you may build more expensive Advanced Carryalls that can be given orders.