SUPREME COMMANDER 2 - PC - Review
Staying true to the real-time strategy genre, Supreme Commander 2 doesn’t follow the trend that the original Supreme Commander (2007) and Total Annihilation (1997) started. Instead, Supreme Commander 2 is much more casual as an RTS with a few “hardcore” elements enveloped by a disaster of a storyline. If RTS fans are coming to Supreme Commander 2 with intentions on being blown away by its narrative, they should expect to walk away extremely disappointed. If not, Supreme Commander 2 is a well-designed RTS that helps keep the genre from falling prey to extinction.
Getting back to basics, Supreme Commander 2 focuses on simplicity over complexity. This approach will undoubtedly tick off the majority of fans that the original won over, but in the eyes of Gas Powered Games, it was done to make an appeal to the general gaming audience who are foreign to the genre. The overhaul of the tech and upgrade system to the form of research via a tree and points should deter Chris Taylor (the designer of the series and Total Annihilation) fans who buy any title with his name stamped on the front cover. Gas Powered Games went right ahead and cut out the Seraphim race as the title only has the Illuminate, Cybran and UEF factions represented. The list of features removed or changed goes on, and the intent seems to make the game a much more streamlined and accessible title than Taylor’s previous entries in the genre.
Combat takes place on land, air and on the dangerous seas
The storyline found in Supreme Commander 2 serves as a waste of time as it’s embodied by characters that require no empathy and have no charisma. One only has to look as far as the one of the lead characters nicknamed “Migraine” to get a clue on how joyful the single-player narrative is. “Migraine,” otherwise known as Dominic Maddox, is represented by a commander who has a wife that is Illuminate and suddenly has the UEF turning against him in the matter of seconds after he won several large-scale encounters with Cybran. This kind of character backstory is not fleshed out very well; there seems to be little motivation involved in the decisions of the characters, which can lead to ambivalence on the part of the gamer.
When players finish a mission in the storyline, they are judged on their completion time, combat expertise, the research they gathered and objectives they completed with five-star medals. Players also receive badges for how well they performed overall. The objectives within a mission aren’t all necessary to advance, but do help in raising the player's overall performance. An example of a side mission would be to reclaim the entire amount of tech stashes hidden throughout the level. They are generally simple, but they do provide reasons to play through the single-player campaign again to achieve better personal scores on each level.
Pure mayhem is about to go down
The multiplayer supports up to eight players on one map playing as any one of the three factions. While most matches were stable and amusing, the lack of a ranking system online does hurt the effectiveness of keeping players around for more action. If players aren’t into the online affairs, they can compete in offline skirmishes with computer-controlled foes. There are three victory conditions implemented in the form of Assassination (destroy enemy commanders), Supremacy (eliminate enemy structures) and Infinite War (no victory conditions, continuous play). As per the standards of the RTS genre, stats are calculated after each match and there’s even a replay save feature so players can study their opponent’s moves after victory or defeat.
The best gameplay attribute of Supreme Commander 2 was entering into Strategic Mode, otherwise known as pulling the camera as far back as the game allows it and seeing an entire overview of the map. This satellite view allows players to see the entire map and send out commands to their units to advance or defend. It was here that players understand the nature of the beast and see how the “Cheating” AI formulates their battle plan or even their friend online who is rushing their units in rather than playing with a bit more reserve.
Rushing often leads to having the upper-advantage
Another reason to pick up a copy of Supreme Commander 2 is to employ units such as the Cybran’s Experimental, the Cybranasaurus Rex, which is one part reptile and one part cyborg. In addition, the Illuminate have their Universal Colossus, an upgrade to the Galactic Colossus, with giant claws while the UEF have their King Kriptor, an armored bipedal walker that sports fantastic turrets to shred any enemy opposition. The experimentals were a blessing in disguise since there’s a lack of standard units for each faction – a downgrade in comparison to the original.
When push comes to shove, Supreme Commander 2 is worthwhile RTS to a certain demographic, which ends up being the casual audience who only toy around with the genre at their own leisure. Hardcore fans will instantly be turned off by the changes and removal of particular elements, so they may want to try the demo out first before hunkering down to pay their hard-earned moolah on Supreme Commander 2.
Simple is as simple does. There weren’t enough units provided, although the experimentals are still a beautiful attraction.
It’s not nearly as colorful or good-looking as the original.
Voice acting is lifeless, though the sound effects are moderately effective.
The learning curve is much less staggering than the original.
I’m not a fan of scaling back in effort to draw in players who don’t fully appreciate the genre.
The online matches run fine and can be competitive when pitted against the right opponent.
There’s fun to be had here, but nothing that is substantially unique from similar servings already in the genre.