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Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance Review
developer: Gas Powered Games
PIII 1800, 512MB RAM, 8GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Nov 06, 07 (released)
|» All About Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance on ActionTrip|
Right off the bat, let's get one thing straight; the original Supreme Commander was one of the most complex, time-consuming RTS games I have ever played. Does that mean it was a bad game? Not in the least bit. Just be aware of this fact because the new expansion does not ease the complexity of the game in any way, shape, or form. In short, this game is not for n00bs. Unless you are really, really determined to learn it. If you are not somewhat adept at RTS games in general, it will be like a three-year jumping off the high dive - they might survive it, but it most likely will not be a pleasant experience.
With that out of way, and now addressing those RTS fans who have stuck around, you probably want to know if it is a good game beneath all the tender, flakey layers of difficulty.
For those new to the franchise, Supreme Commander (SC) is a massive RTS where long term strategies are not only good to have, they are downright necessary. Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (SC: FA) follows in those very footsteps. You have to have a plan from the beginning and move quickly or this game will own you. The tech tree is vast and varied. The resource management could be a game all by itself. And the economy is more difficult to manage than doing my year end taxes. By hand. In fact, this game should be called Real Time Economics, although I mean that in a good way as it's damn fun. In other words, you will be spending more time trying to keep all the numbers in the positive than actually fighting. The more I play SC the more I find things that seem to work better one way than another. Part of the problem is that I have yet to figure out why some ways work better. I am sure there are rules and reasons. I just wish they would let me in on it.
SC: FC adds a new race, the Seraphim. One of the complaints of the original SC was that the three different factions didn't seem different enough. Sure there are subtleties the farther down the tech tree you go, but most strategies worked the same regardless of which race you played. The addition of the Seraphim seems be an attempt to address that, and visually, they are, well, different looking. Technically, they are a little off the beaten path, but once again, your strategies will not vary much. Part of the problem, is that resource and economy management remain similar for each race. If you can handle those two things, everything else is building to the best weapons and units as fast as possible.
The graphics, which were pretty good in the original, have been improved. Be warned however, if you want to play this game on higher settings, you will need a beast of a machine. This game will murder your CPU then defile the corpse and dump it in the river for good measure. If your system can handle it, SC: FA is a very good looking game. Unfortunately, you will be most effective zoomed all the way out and all those gorgeous animated bots will be seen as a map full of a bunch of icons. What do all the little icons mean? This is just one more thing you will have to learn to be most effective.
Regarding changes to the gameplay itself, the most notable improvement would be the interface. While it still retains all the functionality (and depth) of the original, it has been streamlined to take up less screen space and be more efficient. In addition, other subtle changes have found their way into the game. Units, especially in the upper tiers, seem to build much faster. At the same time, certain higher level weapons, such as nukes, have been slowed way down. At this point, they are all but obsolete due to build time and cost.
Speaking of upper tiers, getting there seems to take a bit more effort due to changes in the way resource gathering is handled. Nothing significant, but you will notice the various changes if you're a veteran player and need to adjust your strategies accordingly.
8.1 Very Good
This is the pinnacle of hardcore RTS games, there are no gimmicks here, those who love deep strategy games will feel right at home, plenty of depth to the gameplay;
Very steep learning curve, you have to spend a lot of time before you will feel comfortable playing against online opponents.