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Supreme Commander Review
developer: Gas Powered Games
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Feb 20, 07 (released)
|» All About Supreme Commander on ActionTrip|
Chris Taylor, celebrated game designer and head honcho at Gas Powered Games, is back to conquer the industry with a new strategy, entitled Supreme Commander. Although many see this game as plain rehash and a rightful tribute to Taylor's 1997 classic, Total Annihilation, the fact remains that SupComm stands on its own. Plus, a lot has changed since 1997 and strategy games have evolved significantly. We approached Supreme Commander with that in mind. Also, we were determined to find out whether the years of development have paid off and if it was all worth the wait.
We're really in it now!
That's what happens when you lose your ACU.
The first step into the Supreme Commander single-player campaign involves siding with one of the available factions: UEF (United Earth Federation), the Cybran and the Aeon Illuminate. Each faction fights for its own cause and influence in the galaxy. Conquering planets is essential to the success of your faction and almost each mission will revolve around gaining control over crucial territories. Each of the campaigns portrays central characters that bestow you with duties as you go along. Rather than placing you into the role of faction leaders, the game adequately fits you into the suit of an ACU, or Armored Command Unit. The ACU is, quite literarily, the single most important unit on the battlefield. Everything begins with this unit. It can build vital resource and energy structures and may also be used in combat. It also happens to be the central aspect of gameplay throughout the single-player campaign, as well as the multiplayer.
Admittedly, the first few tasks may give you the wrong impression. It takes a bit of time to get to the really good stuff. And, believe me, after completing the first few objectives you'll get to grasp the jaw-dropping scale of the battles. Let it be known that, at times, you may require a plasma screen the size of Madison Square Garden in order to appreciate the sheer size of some of the battles. One important advice to all beginners. Due to the enormous variety of available units, structures and upgrades, it's absolutely imperative that you go through the game's tutorial on unit movement, construction and upgrades. Otherwise, you'll soon find yourself outmatched and eventually obliterated by a considerably more powerful foe.
As I've mentioned, some aspects of the game might appear disheartening and confusing at first, but after a few hours you'll come to grasp the slick gameplay mechanics and the vastness of the game itself. Next off, GPG seems to have hit the nail on the head when designing the UI, which remains intuitive and most help throughout the game - even though it does appear to cover a significant part of the screen without any apparent reason (still, you get used to it after the first hour). The zoomed-out viewpoint is a handy way of getting around the map quickly and gives you a perfect insight to the battle situation at hand. And often it proves useful too, because the enemy AI is prepared for anything. Rather than depending entirely on predetermined actions and scripted behavior, the AI coordinates assaults and defense better than most human-controlled armies do. To counter this intelligence, the player must muster a variety of units in order to overcome the enemy. This denotes that you coordinate land invasion with a formidable naval presence, as well as strong air support. Why? Because that's exactly what your foe will be doing, whether it means to attack your base or defend its own fortification. Just so you know, in practice, commanding units and conquering new territory works very well. Using the Shift key, players receive easy and swift access to potential build commands, unit movements, patrol waypoints and other crucial combine orders.
Be warned, Supreme Commander is a challenging and frequently tricky strategy game, but persistent players are rewarded for their efforts with an impressive amount of unit upgrades. The coolest thing is that the upgrading system makes all the difference on the battlefield, and can eventually offer access to colossal units, capable of leveling an entire city (apart from looking awesome to boot). If you feel like it, you can eventually lay waste to the land with devastating nuke attacks (make sure your ACU is somewhere safe when you do this). Throughout the gameplay, each unit will get its fair share of action. ACUs, for instance, can be strengthened with various weapon boosts, armor upgrades, teleportation capabilities and so on. Naturally, adding these features notably drains resource and energy, but may prove very rewarding if used wisely. Moreover, the ACU is not the only unit with building capabilities. Engineering units may be produced as well. They are ideal for erecting various structures, gathering resources and fixing damaged units.
Each second in this game entails thinking and tactics. In that respect, resource management is indisputably an admirable feature of Supreme Commander. Manipulating with energy and mass makes the player think carefully before accumulating a vast number of structures and units. It is, therefore, necessary to create a well-balanced supply of both mass and energy to avoid potential production outflow. The system is a noteworthy attempt that inventively discards the common resource upsurge depicted in real-time strategies nowadays (you know winding up with 999999 gold and 8993458 lumber).
Unit variety, AI, engaging gameplay, battles get tantalizingly epic, multiplayer, wonderful soundtrack;
Takes a while to get going, a bit demanding for mid-range rigs, mundane storyline.