SUPREME COMMANDER 2 - PC - Preview
In the coming years, Square Enix hopes to transform itself from an RPG powerhouse to a successful publisher that tackles all genres – not just games in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. One of the games to come from that mission is Supreme Commander 2, the sequel to the successful real-time strategy game by Gas Powered Games.
Chris Taylor, Founder and CEO of Gas Powered Games (GPG from here on), was on hand at this year’s E3 to demonstrate and speak about the game. “It’s a pleasure to have Square Enix as our new publisher,” he said. “They bring a lot of great values and sensibilities to storytelling. We’re bringing those things to the game.
“We’re showing a PC build today. We have the 360 version in development at Gas Powered Games. We’re not farming it out this time. We’re doing it in house. We really believe we’re gonna be doing cool things here.”
GPG hopes that Supreme Commander 2 will be an advancement not only for the series but for the genre as well.
“[We have a] radical new direction and design for the terrain maps,” he continues. “Remember before you kind of had rolling hills, water, maybe a mountain range, and it’s on this awkward square frame, and you kind of say, ‘Oh, that’s it.’”
In Supreme Commander 2, you’ll experience realistic worlds with fictitious (but realistic-looking) locations. One of those worlds contained an enemy base that was carved right into the side of the environment. It was a very large structure with long pillars running along side the mountainous scene.
As we took in this beautiful sight, enemy units began to invade. Their designs are very futuristic – if you’ve seen any of the Star Wars prequels, you’ll know instantly where their inspiration came from. “Say what you want about the last three movies but I loved the designs,” says Taylor, who was pleased by those who caught the design influences in Supreme Commander 2.
Part of the graphical beauty can be credited to the new rendering engine, which makes the game look beautiful while allowing it to run on older hardware.
The battle continued raging, and GPG gave us our first glimpse of the unit launchers. These awesome weapons don’t launch cool weapons – they launch entire units across the battlefield. Units are loaded up like a magazine and shot off quickly one at a time. It’s a great way to invade and dominate an area, Taylor says. More importantly, it looks really cool.
One of the development team’s high priority goals was to ensure the game could run on older hardware. Taylor says that they have succeeded in achieving this and that Supreme Commander 2 will play on hardware as old as five years. Says Taylor, “We’re using less polygons than we did in Supreme Commander 1.”
Despite this, the graphics are great. No matter how many times the camera zoomed in and out (sometimes very close, other times so far away from the action that you could barely see the units), the frame rate stayed smooth and the visuals remained clear.
“You can upgrade torpedo systems to go into the water. We’ve got repair systems, a core junk utility so you don’t go nuclear. If you’re in your base, you can dump it before it goes off. We’ve got a hunker mode where, if you’re in trouble in the field, you can hunker and all your weapons shut down, [which sets up for rescue]. The head, if you’re in trouble, the Ultimate thing – kind of like an escape pod, the head pops off. You can fly it back to base and land it on an experimental gantry and have your body rebuilt.”
The “Ultimate thing” he spoke of looks like a mech but is currently being referred to as an experimental unit. Over 25 experimental units are in development, and so far, the Universal Colossus is the most interesting. Instead of attacking with his body or leveraging the power of some element like wind or fire, the Universal Colossus can suck up opposing units like a vacuum and spit them back out into the crowd.
Taylor didn’t reveal much about the game’s AI except to say that Supreme Commander 2 is receiving huge improvements. He also said that what they are using is called “neural net AI,” a term which he says he knows sounds like science fiction but is real. “[It sort of works] like the human mind works, we learn more from failure than from success.”