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Supreme Commander 2

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ God Games/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

It's been a while since I had a crack at a Supreme Commander game - end of 2007, to be exact, when I reviewed Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. Even then, the game was pretty in a way that required a whole lot of hardware muscle to fully appreciate. I find it somewhat appropriate that Supreme Commander 2 be the first game to be reviewed using my new, more meaty gaming rig. And, as they say, viva la difference!

The graphics are every bit as beautiful as they were in Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and I only experienced any lag or skipping in the video during some of the cut scenes and very rare occasions during extremely crowded gameplay. I found that I needed to run the game options at one step shy of full-tilt to get an enjoyable experience... and, I should add, I was using a dual-screen setup, which was natively supported by the game, as a nice touch.

As before, the sound effects are well done, with weapons with nice reports, explosions which produce very satisfying bass levels and, for the most part, pretty decent voicework. Psibabe even noted that she liked the game's music when she was working at her desk nearby while I was playing. All-in-all, the production quality is pretty good.


Gameplay:

While Supreme Commander 2 puts you in the position of a Commander, waging high-tech war in a futuristic battlefield, you don't merely have to command a large number of units; you have to build them. There are two main "currencies" that you have to manage: mass and energy, both of which come from created structures. Energy is generally cheap to create, requiring very little mass to create. The key, scarce commodity is mass. Mass can be obtained either via mass extractors, which use mass to create and energy to run and can only be built on certain, specific locations around the map, or via "recycling," if you will, by reclaiming mass from destroyed vehicles and structures. Reclaiming mass can give you a short term boost, but you want to control as many mass mining locations as possible, as this not only gives you a continual income of mass, but lowers the number of mass extractors that your enemies can control.

Of course, it is possible for one side to "convert" a unit or structure to their side. This, in fact, can be a useful warfare tactic, when faced with several small enemies. I have, for example, when faced with ten tanks, let my tanks attack the ones on the left, as I began converting some of the tanks to our side. If, while you're sustaining some losses, you're also converting some of their units, you can maintain the number of units you have (or even increase the number of units you have), while enemy units dwindle. The most rewarding part is watching your newly converted units as they start destroying the enemy units sitting next to them.

Supreme Commander 2 is not all brawn and gusto. You will have to plan your attacks wisely, manage your resources well and find a balance between creating offensive units, adding defensive measures to protect your structures, building bases that do what you need them to do and researching new technologies that can increase your effectiveness in the field.


Difficulty:

I saw another review of Supreme Commander 2 that says that it's more for casual gamers. I never played the original Supreme Commander, so I can't compare the two, but I did play Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, and found that game to be difficult to the point of frustration. In my opinion, the difficulty level in Supreme Commander 2 makes it less frustrating and a bit more approachable. Even so, I found some of the missions in the Campaign mode to be difficult enough to require that I drop down to Easy difficulty level to progress. Where Supreme Commander 2 does feel more limited than some other RTS games, at times, is in the size of the maps... but when you are trying to keep active command over hundreds of units doing various things across the entire battlefield, you may find yourself relieved that the maps aren't larger.

When playing Supreme Commander 2, I found that patience is, indeed, a virtue; I can generally find a way to succeed at the missions (at least on a lower difficulty level), but sometimes only by building up forces and providing a good amount of defense, making small, deliberate and relatively safe advances across the battlefield until I can deliver my final attack. In short, I'm not winning any speed contests, but at least by slowly advancing and being very defensive, I can avoid everything very quickly going to hell in a hand-basket and losing the mission.

Researching new technologies is another important factor that can be crucial, in certain missions, though might be easily overlooked. In one mission, I was being hounded by A.I. allies to create shields and use them to protect my base, but I couldn't find any way to build them. As it turns out, I had to research them first. Once I had done so, I found them to be quite handy, indeed, deploying one after the other, yet each shield generator being just inside the edge of the protective barrier of the previously deployed shield. In this manner, I was able to slowly make a shielded tunnel and then effortlessly march my entire army, protected, across the battlefield. Nice. Slow, but nice.


Game Mechanics:

I enjoyed the fact that Supreme Commander 2 supports multiple monitors natively. First, I tried opening the game in windowed mode and simply stretching the game across both monitors, but the game tends to have most things going on at the center of the display area, which, when you stretch the game across two monitors, is right on the edge of both monitors. If you have two monitors with no thickness between them, essentially forming a wider single monitor, then this setup would probably work better for you than it did for me. However, it turned out this wasn't necessary. When you use the native support for two monitors, the main monitor displays what it always did, with the User Interface and the full motion videos (when appropriate), but the second monitor simply has a full screen map view that works just like the main map view. By default, you can see the entire battlefield, zoomed out so the view looks like a radar screen. You can, however, choose to zoom in to whatever part of the battlefield you desire and change camera angles, if you like, allowing you to keep an eye on a specific part of the action. You can use this second screen to select units and click on targets and the like, but if you need to do anything fancy, you will have to either move your pointer over to the primary screen and use the U.I. overlays or simply use the keyboard shortcuts. I found this setup to be quite nice, in practice.

I had primarily one control issue that annoyed me: when you mouse to the edge of the screen, your view scrolls that direction. This can be turned off, thankfully, but that left me with the arrow keys to move my view around the battlefield. My gripe with the arrow keys is that they seemed to move one entire screen in the direction, when I usually wanted to see just a little bit more in whichever direction I was trying to look in. If this were adjustable, I might have used it more, but I found that my preferred work-around was to simply zoom out so that I could determine where I want to look more closely and then zoom back in in the new spot. With some practice, this gets to be fairly quick and natural, and if you're a frequent user of Google Maps, you might already be somewhat proficient at it.

All-in-all, I found Supreme Commander 2 to be a fun and very challenging game and a nice first game for putting my new rig through its paces. While I prefer to control my mechs in first person, it is a fun concept, with a well-polished production values to make it work nicely. I highly recommend it.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



XP/Vista/Windows 7, 2.6 GHz or better CPU, 1gB RAM (XP) or 1.5 GB RAM (Vista/Win 7), 256 MB VRAM DX9 compliant video adapter with Pixel Shader 3.0, DirectX 9.0, No accelerated sound hardware required, 4-5 GB Hard Drive for full install & DirectX, Internet Connection with Cable / Broadband.

Recommended System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, 3.0 GHz Dual Core AMD or better CPU, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon X1800 or equivalent card with 256 MB VRAM with Pixel Shader 3.0, No accelerated sound card required, DirectX 9.0, 4-5 GB, for full install & DirectX, Internet Connection with Cable / Broadband

 

Test System:



MS Windows XP Home Edition, AMD dual-core, 3.11 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI Monitor, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, ATI Radeon HD 2400 (256 MB), Realtek HD Audio, Creative SB X-Fi, 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, Sony DVD RW, Cable Modem, VAIO Mouse

Related Links:



Sony PlayStation 2 Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love Microsoft Xbox 360 Greed Corp.

 
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