Any PC gamer worthy of the title will have no doubt lost months of their life to some kind of real time strategy game.
Maybe it was Sid Meier’s Civilization with its awe inspiring task of establishing a brand new race? Or one of the early Command and Conquer games with tanks and soldiers hanging on your every word?
How about Total Annihilation? Though the brand doesn’t have the same firepower as Command and Conquer, it’s fondly remembered by hardcore RTS fans the world over thanks to its still astonishingly addictive multiplayer action.
Now Chris Taylor – the main brain behind TA – returns with sci-fi strategy fest Supreme Commander. Cross fingers and antennae that it brings something new to the table.
With all the hype Supreme Commander’s been receiving over the last 6 months, there’s little doubt that this is one title that’s been polished to the point of perfection. Mr Sheen eat your heart out.
If this Commander was real life military it’d be some lantern jawed poster boy saluted by all and sundry. OK, so it’s no Gears of War, but for a genre that’s never really been about the looks, it’s up there with Company of Heroes as the best of the bunch.
The only problem is these looks come at a hefty price. Unless you’re running a top of the range PC with all the necessary graphics firepower, you won’t get anywhere near the full experience.
You’re probably asking yourself the same question as us. Why does a strategy game need so much computing power? Well, it’s the astonishing intelligence shown by your computer controlled opponents.
Expect constant attacks via land sea and air, almost always perfectly coordinated to cause you as much damage as possible. These buggers take some beating. So when you finally manage it, feel free to award yourself all the medals you want. Here’s a Blue Peter badge to get you started.
Commander’s new resource system twists the genre a little. Rather than sending out units to collect silly energy crystals and the like, you build the energy generating capacity you need. The game here is to keep it running at full tilt and fully protected from the other side. Lose a few power stations and it’s pretty much game over.
Other than these tweaks, there’s not much else new. What Supreme Commander manages though is to turn the juice all the way up to 11 and improve on just about everything we’ve ever seen in an RTS game.
All your units are bigger and better than before, the enemy intelligence is unrivalled and there’s a tonne to get through – and that’s before you head online and take part in jaw dropping internet based battles.
Overall we’re still sold on Company of Heroes. But if you’re after something a little more old school RTS than you can do far worse than this.