A little taste of the old schoolOver the course of the game you will also acquire Research Points, usually by building research structures or attaining victory in battle. This is where the other big change in gameplay comes in, with the tier based research system of old having been done away with in favour of a much more intuitive "tech tree".
The "tech tree" allows you to research new units and structures over time but also to upgrade your existing ones, meaning you'll never have a useless squad of tanks sat around doing nothing just because you built them at the start of a game. Striking the balance between upgrading what you already have or researching entirely new units adds depth to the gameplay and while these changes might anger devoted fans of the series, they add to the game rather than detract from it and there's still lots of micro management elsewhere for the hardcore RTS nut to focus on.
It's a real shame then that with core gameplay as solid as this that the single player campaign fails to deliver. Its a Sci-fi soap opera affair that's a great way for new players to acquaint themselves with the games mechanics but is ultimately pretty unsatisfying. The characters all tick the boxes of various video game cliches, there's the overly aggressive army captain that shouts all the time for seemingly no reason, cocky enemies that talk more like Saturday morning cartoon super villains than soldiers and last but not least the main character, a wise cracking, ever so slightly sarcastic Nathan Drake sound-a-like. It's hard to care about any of them, or why they're fighting in the first place to be honest, even if there is the odd FMV cut scene thrown in to try and tell the story. It offers a reasonable variety of missions and it'll take more than a few hours to reach the tales conclusion but unless you're new to the series you're probably better off jumping straight into skirmish mode or playing online than spending fifteen hours slogging through the single player missions for very little payoff.
Online however the game really shines, once free of the scripted battles and small maps of the single player campaign you not only begin to realise the games full potential but you're forced to use every tool at your disposal and every trick in the book to win. Suddenly the ability to set patrol routes around your base no longer seems a bit pointless but essential. You appreciate the ease with which you can set up a build cue of units and set rally points for them and on bigger 4v4 maps the strategic zoom comes into it's own by giving you a much needed view of the chaos that's unfolding around you on three different fronts. If you're looking for a great single player experience Supreme Commander 2 may not be your cup of tea but online there really are few strategy games that can match the level of action and excitement on offer in the 4v4 or free for all matches. My only real complaint over all is the lack of an online ranking system of any kind.
Supreme Commander 2 is a well made RTS game that offers a little taste of the old school along with some marked improvements over its predecessor. It's hardly what I'd call innovative but with so many other RTS franchises having lost their way by trying something new recently that's hardly a bad thing in my opinion. By sticking to tried and tested mechanics, streamlining some of the more complex micro management and improving the game engines performance hugely Gas Powered Games have given hardcore strategy fans and newcomers alike the gaming equivalent of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour. It might still be singing the same tune it was way back when this was all fields but, it does it exceptionally well and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with it's newer more innovative competitors as a result.
Fantastic online multiplayer
Uninspiring single player campaign