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| Supreme Commander Review (6 comments )|
by: Kessandra (1008) | Posted in cluster Kess' Cluster
Posted 74 months ago ( edited 74 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
I fondly remember playing a real-time strategy game known as Total Annihilation back in the late 1990s. It was highly innovative and was one of the first 3D RTS games created and what fun times it brought.
Sadly, there was no sequel (not counting the expansions). Some of my other favorite RTSes of the time like Command & Conquer, Warcraft and Dark Reign got theirs (still no Starcraft 2…).
But Chris Taylor is back and he promises us a ‘spiritual successor’ to Total Annihilation known as Supreme Commander. Is it worthy of such an honorable title? Read on and find out.
Supreme Commander takes place in the future where humanity is fighting an ‘Infinite War’ spanning many millennia. You can play as any of the three factions: your modern-day revamped military, the United Earth Federation, the technologically advanced jihadist fanatics known as the Aeon Illuminate and your freedom fighting cyborgs known as the Cybran Nation. Although don’t expect much variety between factions such as Starcraft’s Protoss, Zerg and Terran factions.
The difference between each side is mostly cosmetic but there are some key differences. The Aeons have a superior navy and rely on attack power; the Cybrans can build quickly and cheaply and can use stealth technology, allowing for quick and undetected rushes. The UEF is a mix of the two. But the main difference between each side is their ‘experimental units’. These units vary from submersible aircraft carriers, hulking killer robots, behemoth gunships and more. Unfortunately, these units are very expensive and time consuming to build. But once they are built, it will take an entire army to bring these bad-boys down.
Supreme Commander is definitely a thinking-man’s game. You must always be aware of both your economy and what’s going on. Early on you must decide whether to focus on rushing, defending or slowly building up a powerful army. Your enemy could easily annihilate you early on with a squadron of bombers or dozens of cheap and quick units.
The main focus of the game is on your Armored Command Unit (ACU), a humongous construction unit and the first thing you will start out with. This unit appears early on in a dramatic explosion and must be kept alive. Losing your ACU may end the game or may destroy your entire base. When an ACU is destroyed, it blows up like a thermonuclear bomb, spelling doom for your enemies or yourself. Luckily, they can repair themselves and they can upgrade to utilize special abilities, such as the ability to cast a shield on themselves, stealth, better building speeds, more building schematics, and more. Unfortunately, this takes a LOT of Energy.
The economy is very difficult to manage. There are two main resources: Mass and Energy. Mass is gathered from salvaging the surrounding environment, building Energy to Mass converters or building upon the actual resource. Energy is gathered from building power generators near your base. It is fairly easy to run out of either resource, especially Energy, for you need to quickly build up your base, defenses and army to survive early rushes. Once you run out of a particular resource, it is very hard to recover as everything is slowed down and it will make you vulnerable to attack. This is why it is imperative to decide on what you should focus on early in the game.
Supreme Commander introduces a great and innovative interface. You can zoom all the way out and into a strategic map of the battlefield where you can still command your units and when you put your cursor over a point of interest, you can zoom down on it. I no longer found my self side-scrolling and I would hate to play any RTS game that doesn’t include this feature.
You can queue up just about any order by holding down the shift key. So after your selected unit finishes his first order, he would go right away to the second. This makes it much easier to manage your army, especially an army that can be as much as 500 units.
You can also change where your main ‘action bar’ should be positioned (left, down or right of your screen) and a first for RTS games: the ability to use two monitors. You can delegate one monitor to portray a map of the battlefield or you can position it as a secondary camera on a place of interest, such as your base or a hot-spot, whilst you use the other monitor for everything else.
Of course, such a feature will require a good video card that can play the game without a hitch (and not just the min). If you want to play it even better, you should have two video cards installed. Unfortunately, this game doesn’t look kindly on 4 or even 2 year old computers. Not even my 8800gtx and Core 2 Duo E6600 could handle the game on the fullest of settings with 8 players and hundreds of units… just when you thought the 8800gtx was overkill. If it’s this bad under DirectX9, I wonder how the DirectX10 patch would perform.
The game is very lengthy and a scrimmage will usually last a good three hours. This game is very exhilarating with explosions everywhere… a pyrotechnics dream. But be prepared to invest on a computer upgrade if you wish to enjoy SupCom.
Gameplay: 9/10 – It plays like an improved version of Total Annihilation. If you aren’t a fan of thinking-man RTSes and you prefer brawns over brains, then this isn’t the game for you.
Graphics: 9/10 – Picture nuclear explosions on the horizon, silhouetting your 5-story tall robots as they mass-murder the hapless infantry below. But beware you poor unfortunate souls with old computers… don’t expect to be able to run the game properly, if at all.
Music: 9/10 – I love the music but that’s just personal taste. ^^
Sound: 7/10 – Nothing special.
Replay Value: 8/10 – Very fun, single-player scrimmages, multiplayer (although not many online), a very long campaign playable from all three factions and addictive gameplay.
Overall: 42/50 = 8/10
Supreme Commander is a worthy successor to Total Annihilation and will be one of my top 10 games of 2007 for sure. Of course, if you prefer the RTS where you just build up a base, get as many units as possible and charge your enemy… then this isn’t a game for you.
Also if you don’t have a suitable video card (anything under a GeForce 6800) and if you don’t have a dual-core CPU, this game isn’t for you… unless you get a computer upgrade.
|6 User Comment(s) • 5 root comment(s)|
| Droniac (114) Mar 29, 2007 - 01:25 am|
|Nice review. I'd agree with your gameplay, music & graphics values - although I've only played the demo and beta test so I can't evaluate it's replay value.|
As for some feedback:
- A video card less powerful than the Geforce 6800 can definitely still run SupCom in medium detail or even high detail at a lower resolution (1280x1024 or less). You see, SupCom is a CPU-bound game - not GPU-bound. As such it'll play decently enough on a dual-core PC with anything better than a X300 in there and yet if you have a single-core machine with a geforce 8800 gtx - you're definitely going to have an unplayable experience.
- You could've said something about the, absolutely horrible, voice-overs as well. The story is pretty interesting and the way mission briefings are handled is great (just like C&C!) - but the voice-overs definitely ruin it, at least in the demo.
- If there is any game where you build up your base, get as many units as possible and charge your enemy that is not called Settlers 3 - then it's Supreme Commander. Many of the multiplayer games I played during beta erupted into hour-long slugfests between streams of units pouring down on each other in the center of the map. Sure, that's awesome fun, but it's not very engaging if you're looking for a tactical experience...
In the end SupCom comes down to overall strategy. You have to have a good pre-game plan ready and make some adjustments during play... mainly related to your economy rather than actual battles. Anyone looking for the other kind of thinking-man's game: a tactically challenging RTS such as Company of Heroes or Ground Control 2 - shouldn't buy SupCom. If you liked Settlers 3 however - then SupCom might be your cup of tea as well. Granted, it won't run 8000 unit battles smoothly on a 350mhz PC like Settlers 3 did...
After reading this review, I'd buy SupCom - if I had a decent enough PC and time on my hands to play it. Maybe after I upgrade for Unreal Tournament 3 (want to experience it in it's full DX10-supported glory) I'll get around to doing just that!
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