An impressive RTS
We all know size matters. We say it's not how big something is but rather how we use it, but we all know that's not true. From our super-sized combo meals to our massive SUVs and 86-inch plasmas TVs, it's obvious that we love big things. We like big things in our games too, and that's where Supreme Commander comes in.
- Big is better!, scalable
- Can be a bit confusing, campaign mode not compelling
Without a doubt, Supreme Commander is a game of epic proportions that will offer an outstanding RTS experience for the far foreseeable future, and for that it deserves an equally massive amount of praise.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
For those of you unfamiliar with Supreme Commander, it's pretty straightforward. Think of your regular old RTS games like Commander and Conquer or Starcraft. Now multiply that by a factor of 10. Everything in this game is big: the weapons, the maps, the unit cap, even the system resources. And as we know, bigger is always better.
You'll start out small with little scout ships and other diminutive units, save for your towering and customisable supreme commander who's part hero unit, part super engineer. As you continue to build, those meagre light tanks and submarines will pale in comparison to the larger and sometimes immense weapons of war you'll later have at your disposal.
Pull Out The Big Guns
Case in point: the experimental weapons. Each faction has three unique weapons of mass destruction that represent the pinnacle of the respective faction's technological abilities. The unique abilities of each experimental unit not only grant you an immense edge in battle, but they also allow you to personalise your play style.
Of course, a few jumbo-sized offensive weapons isn't all Supreme Commander has to offer; it's also the sheer number of units that can duke it out at once that sets it apart. Up to 500 units per side can be produced and fought in battle, meaning combat can be intense and protracted, but also a hell of a lot of fun, given you have the resources to build so much.
With all the units to manage, and a demanding resource economy, the user-interface is equally important in making a game like Supreme Commander fun, and it delivers on all fronts. The map and zoom abilities allow you to move across the battlefield swiftly and accurately to pick out important units. It can become a bit confusing when hundreds of units are onscreen, but given what Supreme Commander set out to do, unit management and map control is some of the best in any RTS.
None of this would be of any interest, however, if Supreme Commander didn't look as good as it does. Even with so many units on screen, zooming down to the closest level yields minor details on units like rotating turrets, moving treads, and reloading missile launch bays. The explosions are jaw-droppingly awesome; nuclear explosions, artillery shots, energy beams, and anything to do with massive damage looks stellar and really proves blowing stuff up is just plain fun. Supreme Commander is an impressive graphical feat, so long as you have the system to run it.
Which leads to an important point. Supreme Commander is scalable, so even with a relatively new system the game is perfectly playable. The biggest drain on your system resources will be the number of units on screen; even a high-end rig will have trouble running the game with all settings on high and a unit cap at 500. Thankfully, unit caps can be reduced in skirmishes and multiplayer matches to prevent just such a problem.
The Big Bang
There are only a few other slight setbacks. The campaign mode, for all its intent to tell a story, isn't very compelling, particularly because you're required to slog through early levels where only minor units are available to build. Instead, it's the skirmish and multiplayer modes that really shine. Also, units don't respond with any voice-overs when selected or given a command, unlike almost every other RTS, making it a bizarre omission.
But for all of these negligible impediments, Supreme Commander still shines as an eminently impressive RTS title. Not only are the core elements delivered well, but lesser details like the game's musical score and the multiplayer pairing service are outstanding.
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