Supreme Commander: Victory is mine!

Title Supreme Commander
Developer Gas Powered Games
Type Real Time Strategy
Platform(s) XBox 360, Windows
Kelly Score ™ 95 / 100

I’ve been playing Supreme Commander for several weeks now. I agree with most of the reviews- this real time strategy game deserves a 9 out of 10, or 95%, or whatever high rating various game reviewers have given it.

SupComm (as Supreme Commander is often abbreviated) has most of the standard real time strategy features: a technology tree, some basic resources (you harvest mass, and you need to build energy generators), and three different sides to play. Set in a distant future, the three sides you have to choose from are all variations of humanity. The United Earth Federation is “old style” earth, the Cybrans are humans who have merged with technology, and the Aeon Illuminate are religious fanatics. Apparently, humans wiped out the only true aliens we encountered: peaceful people who taught “the Way”. The Aeon Illuminate are converts to the Way…but they are humans, so they aren’t very peaceful 🙂

Replay value should be pretty good- I played as the UEF, but I think I’m more sympathetic towards both the Aeon and the Cybrans, so I’m interested in trying things from their side. Total play time for me was about 25 hours…maybe more like 30, but I had a tough time with the final battle and had to replay it at least four times before I was victorious. I was playing on “Easy”, and the last battle was the only one I had to replay.

The main things I enjoyed about Supreme Commander

  • The graphics are fantastic. The unit detail is great for close in views, and switches smoothly to unit icons as you zoom out. Close in, you can see the tracks left by heavy vehicles. Tanks and so forth crush trees. The craters left by nuclear blasts make it so you can almost feel the radiation burns. Watch some of the movies at the Supreme Commander site under “Game Info” to see what I mean
  • Unit control features are very good: the UI incorporates a zoom and pan feature- hover your mouse anywhere on the map, spin the scroll wheel, and you can zoom down to ground level at that point. Note that if you don’t have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you’ll want to get one to play Supreme Commander. When zoomed fully out, you are viewing things from something akin to near earth orbit. Units can be selected and grouped to hotkeys. You can also issue orders for coordinated attacks, which will make faster units wait for slower ones before they begin their assault. One of my favorite aspects of the game are all the options for moving units. There are several transport aircraft that can can establish ferry “routes”: any units that you direct to the ferry icon will automatically be picked up and moved to the designated destination. You can also link these transports to your factories and have units automatically delivered to a distant target…group transports together so they’ll work jointly to move units…and so on. The one thing I missed, and it could be just a lack of knowledge on my part, was a quick way to select all units of a particular type (E.G.: all gunships). There is a way to do this for engineers (the construction units), but not for other types
  • The “expanding map of war” feature: Each “chapter” in the campaign starts with a relatively small map. As you progress past certain objectives, the map expands, sometimes two or three times, introducing new areas and new enemies. For me, at least, this makes getting started on a new map a little less overwhelming
  • The battles are huge: in my final battle, I hit the unit cap: 500 active units on my side alone. You can imagine how complex managing that gets: the UI makes it feasible, but the action is frenetic. In single player/campaign, pause is your friend 🙂
  • the Digital Download works perfectly on Vista x64: This is the way games should work on Vista. I wasn’t feeling too optimistic when about installing SupComm after my experiences with two Electronic Arts releases (BF2, and BF2142) on Vista. But unlike the EA mess, Supreme Commander worked perfectly: almost certainly because it doesn’t use some craptastic anti-piracy system like Pace or StarForce. I know Electronic Arts wants to protect their profits, but none of these “anti-piracy” solutions stop real pirates: all they do is screw people like me who want to play their games. Hurray for Gas Powered Games: your stuff works.

Things I didn’t like about Supreme Commander

  • I never did figure out how to get my Tier 3 nuke-missile capable submarines to build and launch a nuke. They were still useful: they also have basic tactical missiles and of course torpedoes, but the nukes would have been handy
  • There were a couple of instances in the final battle where some units refused to follow my orders. I had a transport with 3 engineers that would land anywhere except on the island where I told it to. I had been able to successfully drop units on that island previously…maybe something to do with hitting the unit cap? I’m not sure, but it was frustrating
  • The Armoured Command Units seem weak to me. If your ACU gets destroyed, its game over, and they seem very easy to destroy. It could be because I didn’t upgrade mine enough…but the strategy that worked for me was to get my ACU as far away from the action as possible. In fact, that’s how I finally won the final battle
  • The UEF’s experimental units seem weak to me. A rolling factory? A submarine aircraft carrier? Compare this to the bloody Cybran Monkey Lord, which has some kind of Uber-powerful energy cannon that rips through my units like a warm knife through butter. I finally figured out towards the end how to kill the Monkey Lord (other than nuking it)…but I never built a single one of the UEF experimental units. They just sound lame to me. But maybe they are amazing, and I just should have skipped over the “A big fat incredibly slow target…er, factory” descriptions

The things I didn’t like were minor, for me at least. I would give Supreme Commander a 9 out of 10 on the Kelly scale.

[tags]Supreme Commander, supcomm, gas powered games, gpg, ea, games[/tags]

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