Galaxy-spanning RTS lands on Planet EarthReviewer - John Layland
There's been a worrying trend amongst RTS games recently, it seems game studio's around the world have chosen to sacrifice hardcore fans of the genre by dumbing things down for console ports and making their games more accessible for the casual gamer. There have been some success stories. Civilization Revolution for instance was a highly enjoyable RTS game that actually worked well on both consoles and handhelds but it's a rare exception, and after my less than satisfying experience with Command and Conquer 4 - Tiberian Twilight I was more than a little worried that Gas Powered Games may have been tempted to walk a similar path with Supreme Commander 2.
Luckily for me, I was wrong. Supreme Commander 2, sequel to 2007's Supreme Commander and spiritual successor to the classic Total Annihilation is still decidedly old school in nature. The basic idea is simple, construct a base, harvest resources then build yourself an army and hot foot it across the map to your enemies base for a massive scrap. No stupidly low unit caps, no gimmicks for the console market, it just does exactly what it says on the tin, brilliant.
It does a very good job as well, while the core gameplay hasn't changed much since Total Annihilation was released way back in the day the combination of land, air and sea units gives the player a huge number of possible ways to attack or defend a target and leads to some spectacular looking battles to boot. I do mean spectacular as well, not only does it look great but even with three hundred mechs, fighter jets and battleships on screen on your side of things alone and tactical nukes flying this way and that the games engine does a great job of keeping everything running smoothly.
It might not rewrite the rules but there have been a few small changes made to make game a tad more accessible, The tricky economy and resource management has been streamlined making things much, much simpler. For the uninitiated there are two resources you'll need to harvest to win the day here, Mass and Energy. Energy is produced by power plants constructed in the usual fashion by your engineers but Mass can be obtained only from preset points on the map, there will be a few conveniently placed in and around your base but you'll need to move beyond your fortifications pretty quickly to harvest enough. This makes early contact with the enemy almost a certainty rather than allowing you to sit back for an hour building units before doing anything and speeds up the pace of combat nicely as a result.