Published on March 5th, 2010 | by prime0
Supreme Commander 2 – Review
Summary: A brave and different sequel which isn't afraid to shake up tradition
It would appear that the actor Nolan North gets everywhere nowadays. Not content with starring in practically every major game under the sun last year, he’s back again voicing a key character in one of the three story-based campaigns in Supreme Commander 2. It isn’t that there’s anything wrong with the American voice actor, it’s just he’s too damn likeable! A cocky statement here, a perfectly delivered pun there and more importantly than anything else, he’s in Gas Powered Games title. Games which are usually geared towards the hardcore gamer that you need a GF Fermi graphics card just to look at screenshots, or at least that used to be the case.
Gameplay once again features the same base-building shenanigans you’d expect from an RTS, with units gaining experience, metal to be harvested, energy to be collected and researched to be, um, researched. Everything is built either using the MCU (Mobile Command Unit), a giant robot where your commander resides, or by helpful engineers that won’t build as fast but are expendable. Battles will end when an enemy’s MCU is destroyed, culminating in a powerful nuclear explosion. The core dynamic hasn’t changes but everything has gone through a dynamic and every worthwhile transformation.
Graphically, this title has an entirely different style to its predecessor. Shrinking the dull greys and browns, SupCom 2 is over-brimming with electric blue and enough hot-rod red to start a Fifties revival. The engine has been optimized for any system from the past two years, and even with almost 600 units on screen at once, the framerate dip is hardly noticeable.
The plot has also been given a badly needed tune-up as well, featuring the same factions from the original – UEF, Cybran Nation and the Aeon Illuminate. This is where Square-Enix’s feedback has factored into the game’s production the most, as real attempts are made to try and engage gamers in this interesting sci-fi universe, with some predictable yet enjoyable characterization which rarely breaks the anime staples of betrayal, faction politics and self-sacrifice. The cut-scenes themselves resemble more Eastern traditions though, but the fact that most of the time you’re listening to commanders in giant robots only further accentuates that ‘Gundam’ feel.
Unit design is completely off the map with Chris Taylor’s wacky brilliance to be seen everywhere. Even after playing for a considerable amount of hours, many gamers won’t have sampled anywhere near the mind-boggling 27 different experimental units spread across air, sea, land and even buildings. Each of these delightful devils is massive and completely dominates the battlefield. Most of them have a crucial weakness though, such as lacking air defenses or mobility, but when in action they look absolutely spectacular.
There are 21 different maps on offer, set across different terrain and with equally different setups. Nine of which can accommodate four players, with five maps suitable for six players. Then the scale goes down, with only one map playable for three and eight players respectively. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t more choices for the maximum multiplayer count, as it would appease some of the fans of the original’s overly exuberant map design.
Across land, sea and air, each of the game’s factions have appropriate hardware to protect themselves and properly attack. Where Supreme Commander 2 forces you to divert your specialization is when it comes to research. As you build research facilities or find caches across the map, research points are earned to be spent on five different specializations – ACU, land, sea, air and building. There are minor advantages such as gaining an extra 10% health or increasing regen speed, and these will set you back three points, but the real bonuses, such as new units, electronic shields and additional cannons, cost around nine. It’s worth waiting for the bigger bonuses but sometimes it’s best to consolidate than go for the big win.
SupCom 2 will make you feel like you can take on the world with units to spare.
Supreme Commander 2 was always going to be a big event on the RTS calendar. Some of the hardcore staples may have been sacrificed but the experience is so much more sleeker and enjoyable than the original. Maps may have gotten significantly smaller, but the gameplay is much tighter as a result.
Every RTS should empower gamers and SupCom 2 will make you feel like you can take on the world with units to spare.
Most sequels just give gamers more of the same; Gas Powered Games have proven it doesn’t have to be that way. A fantastic improvement on the original in every aspect.