Greatest game of its time? Or a grind to complete?
Playing though the game you notice something. Its genuinely enthralling. I've never liked 'build up a base kill all your enemy and start all over again somewhere similar' games due to the drag factor in cheap attempts to extend playing time with start-from-scratch levels.
You see, these games fall into the trap of either obscenely easy, enemy Armada's are blown over like garden furniture in a gale, or are harder than trying to bite though a soviet tank. If you spend an hour playing though a level just building your base and then find out, for example, all you had to do was take one tank and run over the hoards of NPC baddies to get that soul destroying "Mission Accomplished" message popping making you crack your knuckles to try desperately to replicate a previous base. The flip side of this is a terrifying onslaught on your fledgling empire making you hit QuickLoad whenever you see a ass-kicking round the corner and QuickSave whenever any doesn't go completely ***s-up for you.
Dune is a little of both, after all its testing. Obviously early levels train you in the art of building units and vehicles while managing your wind power supply. While later levels, although make frustration levels rise, give the game a certain state of mastery where strengths and weaknesses of the units must be learnt in order that you may survive.
The game isn't without flaws, for example the game leaves little ability to build walls and turret at the city limits if they are too far from a building, the game can become formulaic and most notably some houses are a lot better than others which means trying to play the game though with all the houses an extreme challenge.
In all a very good game that, in the age of 3rd gen consoles, holds its own as a marking point of civilisation building sims.