Supreme Commander 2
Bigger doesn't always mean better, they sometimes say, although of course this doesn't apply in all situations (try telling that to a porn star, for example). Supreme Commander was big, bold and suffered from that at times. It has numerous devotees out there, but there are also placard-waving haters who lie prone in the shadows, waiting for an unwitting fan to cross their path before pelting them with verbal abuse.
Going big in terms of unit numbers wasn't necessarily the most popular idea ever. Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor has addressed this in the sequel, reducing the number of units available to be built, primarily because - and you might get angry at this bit - consoles just can't handle the number of units the previous game threw at them.
"Sometimes your motivations for doing things aren't always ideal, at least theoretically at first," he says. That's just about right, but out of disaster often springs hope, and so seems to be the case with Supreme Commander 2. It's all about the problem of redundant units and, now that we've had a chance to put Taylor's theories to the test, we think he could just be right. The idea runs thus: instead of building Tank 1 and then researching Tank 2 and the powerful Tank 3, you build Tank 1 and then upgrade it as the battle goes along, until you organically come around to Tank 3 in your own time.
This solves the system crippling performance problems, along with the general RTS issue of having loads of crud units left cluttering up the place, eating into the unit cap. Now, let's get this straight - this doesn't mean you won't be commanding large forces. We're saying you won't be commanding ridiculously large forces. How you acquire those units and technology should remain pretty much the same, though.
There's still going to be Energy and Mass as the only two resources you can harvest and you've also still got the strategic zoom thing, which is still lovely. It's also more manageable now, because of the fact you've got less units to be fiddling about with. However, one might also sound a note of caution here -perhaps some will think it's less necessary now because of this very paucity of units? Just a thought.
What there will be more of is storyline, although as we've only played a section of the game at the time of writing. The campaign mode starts off with you playing the role of some guy called Dominic Maddox, the bloke in the armoured command unit (ACU). That's the big constructive robot thing that is the heart of your operation. If it gets destroyed, it's game over. At least you'll get to see a huge mushroom cloud erupt over the landscape, which is very, very cool indeed.
As Maddox, you've got to stop the menacing forces of the Cybrans, the race lof once-human cyborgs from the first game who want to destroy humanity.
The plots twist, and you'll become so enthralled that you'll find it hard not to zoom in and out with glee.
It's the skirmish and multiplayer modes that are going to win the day for Supreme Commander 2. These are definitely the most enjoyable bits of the game we've tried out so far. What we hope will happen is the game will continue to forge the teamwork path in RTS circles, where players will band together and perform tactical roles on the battlefield.
For example, the largest multiplayer map - a four vs four conflict - involves a long, narrow land bridge with plenty of sea on either side. Four spawn points are located on each one and there's a great deal of scope for exciting tactical play if each player were to play a role - one producing air units, the other sticking close to enemy lines knocking up turrets and turtling, and so on.
A New Breed
If you can get over the relative scarcity of units in comparison to the last one - and With the way this has been implemented, it won't take a huge leap to do so - we've got a good feeling this could be the next step in this style of RTS gaming.
The engine shouldn't cause any trouble to pretty much any modern machine, as Chris Taylor says it should run on max on any machine that's 3-5 years old. As heavy system requirements were one of the main reasons why the previous game annoyed some players, Gas Powered Games should be onto a winner. If they can keep the bugs away, we're not even sure we need our fingers crossed on this one.
Getting Busy In The Lab
Experimental units can make all the difference
They might cost a lot in terms of resources and it might also take a while to get to them, but once you do lay your hands on the elite units in Supreme Commander 2, you'll be in a position of great power.
Our personal favourites at the moment are the giant squid-like submarine and the huge flying saucer that rains glittery laser death down on its enemies. A few of these lingering over a poorly defended base and it's goodnight for your opponent.
It's possible to see these experimental units as being overpowered, but each one has its counter unit it's just a question of being able to produce it or have it in your arsenal when or if necessary.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode