Review

Supreme Commander Review (PC)

It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s tense, it’s fast, it’s fun. Supreme Commander is the type of creation that makes you proud to be a gamer.


Shields can save your shiny metal behind The industry of war!

Legions of fans have been awaiting the release of this truly colossal battle-fest; it just has all the right ingredients for a spectacular real-time strategy with staggering tactics. Not since Total Annihilation has the gaming universe had the joy of smashing mass robot armies into one another and unleashing weapons of unimaginable firepower.

Graphically Supreme Commander is a beauty with all those lovely units stomping, rolling and blasting about the battlefield, and that’s before they even get a chance to let their guns do the negotiating. With such a huge number of units capable of pouring into the field, the developers have done a fantastic job of keeping things tight performance wise. Of course on large maps with high unit limits things can start to feel heavy, as more and more structures are forged the CPU is really going to get a work out.

The best, or perhaps I should say the most useful feature of Supreme Commander, is the fantastic camera and being able to quickly survey the entire theatre. A simple roll of the mouse wheel lets you get a close up taste of some mega units, which are surprisingly detailed well considering the numbers you can churn out. Zooming all the way out gives a simple overview of the battle and lets you co-ordinate units from there, it’s a fantastic way too notice any sneak attacks or full-scale armadas coming your way.

This game gives its all, while you will be initially setting up your base and getting your gears ready for war, the intensity you can put yourself through when crunch time arrives is outstandingly rewarding. The more you invest into infrastructure and defence the better as it will then be you hopefully pounding on your neighbours’ door. Watching their shield generators fail and you pummelling their perimeter defence lines, especially if they look expensive, is nothing short of smirk-worthy satisfaction.

Supreme Commander *cough* Total Annihilation 2: Taylor Strikes Back *cough* follows a now classic games footsteps in “commandering”. While many other games allow players to advance their arsenal through building new advanced buildings, here you must upgrade your existing factories to get a hold of tech 2 and finally tech 3. A great way to save space as the upgraded factories can produce all tech level units, and ones that aren’t making anything can be assigned to assist another with its tasks.

This assisting order is extended to units as well where combat units will take this to mean “guard”, construction units will travel around and help construct. Given the large number of defences you can slap around the map you’ll most likely being using the assist option a lot, plus tech 3 facilities can be a real drag time-wise to build. Of course the more things being built the costlier the process to mass and energy.


Fantastic and easy map camera A Supreme Commander gating in

Yes the future holds only two main resources for Supreme Commanders to be concerned about; energy and mass. Energy can be simply generated from power plant structures from low tech 1s, to the much larger tech 3 power reactors. Mass is collected from veins in the ground making each point a strategic gain, the generators themselves, much like the factories, can be upgraded to tech 3 to rip more mass from the earth. Upgrading buildings should never be taken lightly as they become unusable, and for your mass extractors to be shut down during a critical moment could cost dearly.

Ground, Sea and Air belong to the Commanders to toy with as they please. You’ll never have a lack of versatile units to fling at each other. Just because the map is primarily soil doesn’t mean you should let your guard down at sea, battleship like units can have long devastating ranges. Another great part to this game is the lack of “rock-scissor-paper” balancing and there aren’t any different types of armour. This makes for great battles as units can pop like insects, you have to be especially careful with some units and their trigger happy adventures or the fact that some units are so huge they can crush friends beneath them.

Matches be they skirmish or multiplayer can last from a quick hour or so battle to full weekend slug-fests. The map sizes ultimately shape the time frame; if you have a small map you’ll be maxing out your resources sooner and so will get to the ‘good times’ faster. Larger maps, which can be positively gigantic, will take longer to traverse and secure much needed energy and mass. The bigger your base the more you’ll need to invest defending it, so if you decide to go online it’s best you set aside a reasonable amount of time to finish your opponent off, don’t forget your supposed to be a ‘Supreme’ Commander after all.

AI can be set to real easy, challenging or even with specific tactics in mind. Unfortunately it can fall short on occasions especially if island battles are involved, they’ll pour out ground units but then ‘forget’ to actually transport them. This means you’ll be seeing a real mess pile up on their shores, which can become easy pickings for some well placed battleships off the shoreline. Not only is this a main area of weakness challenge-wise but it can also hinder performance as the computer becomes bogged down with so many creations needing CPU time. AI is always the Achilles heel for RTS games, and even Supreme Commander cannot escape its dark clutches, try as it might.

The campaign while certainly interesting for its storyline is still no where near as exciting as other modes. Much like Total Annihilation was, this seems purpose built for the freedom self-created matches can grant players. A lot of effort has gone into the single player experience with great looking cut scenes and decent voiceovers. I did tend to get a little bored having my tech options limited, so I just couldn’t resist skipping the plot for straight up action.

The UEF, Cybran Nation and Aeon all operate the same but have some very different, very tasty units. The UEF are first and foremost the Earth’s Empire who is looking to crack down on the galaxy and restore order. They certainly seem the most human of the factions with unit designs being close to modern weaponry, but with a sci-fi factor. The Cybran Nation are cyborg-like freedom fighters who want their own sovereignty, they fight for independence. They blend a lot of advanced technologies with Earth-like templates, out of them all they could be the coolest looking. The Aeon is your run-of-the-mill religious zealots having been ‘blessed’ with access to The Way and coincidentally some very unique tech. They are certainly the most alien and even craft buildings and units by manipulating liquid metals, very cool.

As I said there are no rock-paper-scissor setups in Supreme Commander so no matter which side or tech you choose to fling about, you can dish and take some serious hurt. Of course the most kick-ass of all units will still be your Armoured Command Unit (ACU); this is the baby that gives birth to all your energy and massed dreams for conquest. This can also be upgraded into a more efficient builder, or for those who like to have them in harms way, they can be tuned into better machines of carnage. Either way if it succumbs to too much damage you’ll notice, a rather impressive and awe inspiring thermonuclear explosion will rip through a large surrounding area; nice!


Prepare your eyes for a feast of nuclear carnage Well, I think I made my point

Supreme Commander is not without a few hitches, mainly AI orientated, but it is plainly a fantastic ride and has had a lot of passion poured into it from Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games. Honestly this is one of the big A-list titles for the RTS genre, any self respecting gamer who’s into the real-time strategic scene must, MUST, have this war behemoth among their collection. 

Top Game Moment:
The nuke is …well …ALL HAIL THE NUKE!

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Comments

By Sin (I just got here) on Jun 06, 2008
Sin
Played it, love it. One of the better RTS&#039;s to be released lately. The graphics and gameplay are absolutely amazing. Love this game.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 08, 2008
herodotus
&quot;Sins of a Solar Empire&quot; on the ground. Learning curve is almost vertical, and the maps are bland, but its&#039; still a top 10 game (top 5 for Strategy fans).
By eloqui (SI Core Member) on Dec 19, 2008
eloqui
watching a good match is like watching a great war movie...
By Kres (SI Elite) on Feb 13, 2009
Kres
Join my camp at: http://www.strategyinformer.com/camp/supreme-commander-forged-alliance

Need people for some serious team play in online matches in FA!
By Tiga87 (SI Newbie) on Aug 10, 2010
Tiga87
Great game... It reminds me old times with Total Annihilation.