Supreme Commander 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Supreme Commander which was released way back in 2007; both have been developed by Gas Powered Games and published by Square Enix. Supreme Commander 2 is the latest addition to the ever crowded real time strategy market which has seen other recent major releases such as Command & Conquer 4 and Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising.
We'll be straight with you: if you come into playing Supreme Commander 2 thinking that it is anything like the fantastic original, you're going to be severely disappointed. Entire elements which people adored (things which brought people to the game and the genre) in the first iteration have been completely removed, for example the in-depth economy system where you had to balance the power and mass income/outgoing. Plus the insane 1000 unit population cap per army has been dropped to a measly 500 on the large maps and even less on smaller maps.
Supreme Commander 2's single player campaign closely follows the story of three individual commanders within three factions of the future, after the alliance between them breaks down when the recently-appointed president is assassinated; Dominic Maddox of the UEF (human), Thalia Kael of the Aeon Illuminate (aliens) and Ivan Brackman & Elite Commander Dostya of Cybran (robots). There are three campaigns within the game, one for each army.
As you'd expect, the campaign does nothing exciting or unique, it's another run-of-the-mill RTS campaign, nearly every mission fitting into one of two categories: attack or defend. However Gas Powered Games has tried to make the game more personal and immersive by trying to make you more engrossed in the story. The campaign will entertain you for a significant amount of time. Each faction campaign has six missions, lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your style of play and overall speed. In the end, the campaign works as more of an advanced tutorial to the game's multiplayer experience.
The most complex part of any real time strategy game is the tech trees which you progress through while playing. Instead of what we're used to - upgrading the buildings which create the units - Supreme Commander 2 has taken the game down a slightly different route. Everything you do in the game will earn you research points which you then spend in the research tree, from here, you upgrade everything from unlocking new units and structures to upgrading the damage, etc, of a class of vehicles (air, land and sea).
We love the level of creativity Gas Powered Games has put into creating the units within the game. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, hitting every extreme imaginable, some the size of ants, others the size of skyscrapers. Every one of them being perfectly detailed, showing nuclear warning stickers on the side of tactical nuclear missiles while in-flight, to the glowing shields of assault bots.
One of the unique factors of Supreme Commander is what is known as the "experimental units". The experimental units vary from robots which make Megatron look like an insect to aircraft carrier-submarines which have the firepower to sink continents.
The new system has made the game dramatically more accessible. Previously, it was a technical system which took a while to get into, now you're able to get the hang of it in minutes. Yes, it's a good thing, but when you invested nearly 100 hours into the original system, the change can be a bit of a let down.
As of late, a lot of RTS games have started to focus heavily on multiplayer, and that is something which hasn't been skipped on Supreme Commander 2. The developers have gone down the intelligent route and used a built-in game browser instead of a separate external application, which makes finding games as simple as the click of a button. The normal game modes which you'd usually expect the game to have are there: assassination, infinite war and supremacy, although other options can be turned on, such as rush timers and overall game speed (rate at which things build/move). The multiplayer allows for up to eight people to battle in either teams or free-for-all, with a wide range of maps to suit your appetite.
The biggest problem we've found with the game is that for every step forward the game has taken, it's taken another two steps back, when you compare it to how unique and original its predecessor was. If you're coming into this game thinking it is going to be a true sequel to Supreme Commander/Forged Alliance, you are going to be disappointed as the only similarities between the games are the name and a few units.
If you're coming into this without experiencing the original, you'll possibly have more fun than you've ever had in an RTS game.