Supreme Commander 2
Posted 3 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
RTS titles have taken a serious hit over the last few years. Back in the late 1990’s, you had a nice selection of franchises to choose from like Age of Empires, Heroes of Might and Magic, Command & Conquer, Warcraft and Starcraft Nowadays, quality RTS games are becoming fewer and farther between.
When Chris Taylor decided to get back into the genre after playing around in the RPG arena (Dungeon Siege), he wanted to make some changes, the biggest of which being the overall scope. 2007’s Supreme Commander realized that scope, providing massive amounts of units fighting across multiple fronts. Unfortunately, it came at a price. The beast of a rig required to run it was intimidating, alienating a lot of his audience in the process. Fortunately, Gas Powered Games learned from that mistake and made Supreme Commander 2 much more accessible. Low-end systems may still have some trouble, but mid-rangers should be able to run this puppy without problems. So, now that you can actually run it, the question is, should you?
Supreme Commander 2 is set roughly 15 years after Forged Alliance, the stand-alone expansion to the first game. The fragile truce between the three factions (UAF, Cybran, and Illuminate) is falling apart. You have the opportunity to control each one, following the story of three commanders who met and developed a friendship during their training while the truce was still intact. It’s certainly a more personal tale compared to the first game, where the story focused more on the factions as a whole.
The gameplay itself follows the classic RTS formula; collect resources and build up your base so you can amass your army and obliterate your opponent. This being the future, the standard resources of Wood and Gold have been supplanted by Mass and Energy, although the uses for constructing buildings and training units is exactly the same. The main unit is the APC, a giant mech that your commander is piloting. While there are Engineer units that can handle your build and repair duties, the APC is much more efficient at it. I found myself sending out engineers into the battlefield primarily as a means to support my troops and let my APC handle the base.
The campaign begins with only a small selection of units at your disposal but as you proceed through the story, more and more of them become unlocked. This the point where I find a lot of RTS games stumble, as they either don’t give you access to the units you need or they give you everything too soon, making the game overwhelmingly easy. Fortunately, in this case the balance is perfect, giving you what you need to get the job done without eliminating strategy from the mix.
One caveat for returning players is that the streamlining process simplifies things quite a bit. While it doesn’t go completely action-oriented, like Command & Conquer 4 has, there will be a noticeable difference in how much micromanaging and base-building you do as compared to the first Supreme Commander. Depending on how much you enjoy that sort of gameplay, you may be a bit turned off when you get knee deep in this sequel.
You have to give credit to Gas Powered Games though, they knew that some micromanagement is necessary. So another way they chose to keep things moving is through the mission structure itself. Most of the time, you’re dropped into a map and have to hit the ground running. The story-telling is primarily done dynamically throughout your mission, keeping the focus on the objectives at hand. Some will require you to build up first while others slam you with enemies as soon as you have control over your units. Either way, you’ll always feel like you have a ton of things to do. Never did I sit back and rest on my laurels, waiting for X amount units to be created before launching my offensive.
Now, that said, if you are even remotely versed in the RTS genre, you may want to crank up the difficulty from the outset. The AI is by far the weakest part of the package, following predictable routines that it rarely strays from. Novices may find a challenge on Normal, but vets will most certainly need to bump things up a notch. Pathfinding is also still a nagging issue but it’s one that’s been around for so long in the genre that I’m willing to bet most of you will be able to overlook it.
The single player does have a lot to offer, with 18 missions to journey through plus a skirmish mode that will allow for you and up to 8 AI controlled opponents. But one crutch that will hurt any RTS game is how effective the multiplayer is executed. One can only play through the campaign so many times before boredom sets in, whereas online skirmishes can prolong the life of a strategy game for many years (just ask Blizzard how Starcraft is doing these days). I can happily say that it has a lot to offer that will leave strategy gamers satisfied. Twenty different maps that support up to 8 players, an observer mode and a ton of adjustable options like victory conditions, voice chat, fog of war and rush timer, it’s well set up to say the least. I played a handful of online games at various times and found the servers to be decently populated and stable.
Graphics & Sound
So, here’s where I had some of my biggest problems. I’ve seen and heard from many different folks touting their love of the more streamlined look of the game, but, to be honest, I didn’t really care for it. To me the visuals as a whole were fairly bland. Sure, it was highly detailed, especially in the various landscapes. But the unit coloring took the blue, red and green motif from the previous game and made it even more rigid. The plus side is how easy it is to pick out your units in the heat of a massive battle. But, since I spent a lot of time in those battles using the zoomed-out satellite view anyway, it didn’t really help me. It’s not a deal breaker, but it didn’t help with the immersion either.
Now, the audio side of the spectrum was for me a mixed bag. The effects were outstanding with explosions aplenty. But the voice acting and the script that support it came across like a B-grade action film. It’s a fine line between campy and cheesy and Supreme Commander is on the wrong side of it.
All complaints aside, Supreme Commander 2’s $50 asking price makes it an easy buy. RTS gamers get plenty of gameplay time, be it through the campaign (where some battles can last easily over an hour) or through the solid multiplayer. With four difficulty settings and 20 maps to play around in, you could spend many hours just honing your skills in the skirmish mode.
While it has its flaws, the latest game in Chris Taylor’s RTS franchise is well worth a spot on your hard drive. I’m sure some returning players will take issue with the changes, at the same time, those same changes have opened up the franchise to a much wider audience. Whether you flex your strategy muscles on a regular basis or you’re new to the RTS gym, this one will make a nice addition to your library.
+ More personal storyline
+ More streamlined making it accessible to a wider audience...
- Predictable AI
- Coloring came across as bland to me
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Release Date : 2010/03/02
System : PC
Publisher : Square Enix
Developer : Gas Powered Games
Category : Real Time Strategy
ESRB : E10+
7.0 / 10
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