Emperor: Battle for Dune Soundtrack, David Arkenstone / Frank Klepacki / Jarrid Mendelson, 2001
While Westwood Studios’ Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty wasn’t the first real-time strategy game, it codified many of the genre’s conventions and kicked off its 1990s boom era – epitomised by Westwood’s own Command & Conquer juggernaut. So in some ways, it seemed fitting that 2001’s Emperor: Battle for Dune, Westwood’s third Dune game, was poised to break new ground again as the developer’s first 3D RTS title – or was it? Ultimately, Battle for Dune met with favourable feedback from reviewers and gamers, but few would have hailed it as anything more than a solid entry in a genre that was getting very crowded. Ultimately, Battle for Dune became Westwood’s final RTS game – not a revolution, but rather a bookend then to the developer’s pioneering work.
Things were more interesting on the music side of things. Emperor: Battle for Dune featured the same three factions as Dune 2000 had a few years earlier: House Atreides, Harkonnen or Ordos (the latter a non-canon addition to the Dune universe which allowed the developers to add some variety to their games). And as on Dune 2000 – and of course the Command & Conquer titles – RTS game music superstar Frank Klepacki was drafted to write the soundtrack. However, this time Westwood requested a distinct style of music for each house. That effectively tripled the workload, so Klepacki brought in additional composers he had worked with in the past – David Arkenstone and Jarrid Mendelson. Arkenstone had collaborated with Klepacki on Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny and Lands of Lore III, while Mendelson had made crucial contributions to one of the Command & Conquer franchise’s most unusual entries – Tiberian Sun.