Supreme Commander Review
From its massive maps and battles to its giant mech commander units, Supreme Commander embraces the philosophy that bigger is better. And for the most part, it’s right. This is real-time strategy warfare on a massive scale and for the strategy gamer who can think beyond cheap unit rush tactics it’s also a massive amount of fun.
Supreme Commander takes place far in the future. Humanity has colonized the stars, but tensions from within have caused it to split into three major factions whose differences have led to war. The United Earth Federation is the law and order faction that represents the empire’s old guard. The independence-minded Cybrans just want to be left alone to continue their cybernetic experiments. Lastly, the Aeon seek to bring humanity to a higher plane of existent after being “enlightened” by alien philosophies. While each faction has its own look and units, they are not significantly different from each other – they all rely on the same basic resources and approach to warfare. While this means that the experience of playing one faction is not that different from playing another, the factions are well-balanced against each other. Each faction comes with its own campaign, but they’re in parallel and independent of each other so you can start off whichever one suits your fancy.
When you start playing the game one of the first things that will strike you about it is its scale. The maps can be quite large and as you play through the campaign you’ll find that the maps are often increased in size when new objectives are added. The scale helps to open up the gameplay to give you a greater degree of freedom than in your typical RTS game with confined maps and limited paths to the enemy. It also allows for large forces that have plenty of room to maneuver on large battlefronts. Navigating the maps is a breeze thanks to the game’s innovative and intuitive interface. The mouse wheel is used to control the zoom from a close-up view which can show a handful of units at a time all the way out to a strategic view of the entire battlefield. As you zoom out, the units are replaced with icons that designate their unit type and faction. Not only can you watch the entire battlefield from this perspective, you can continue to give your units orders as well.
Battle management is also enhanced by a number of features that make resource management less demanding than in most RTS games. There just two resources in the game, mass and energy, and their generation is completely automated by building structure to extract mass from resource nodes and power plants to generate energy. You’ll be able to track the state of your economy pretty easily thanks to two meters at the top of the screen that let you know at a glance if you’re producing enough mass and energy to keep up with the demands of your forces. Building additional power plants and extractors is pretty easy because you can hold down the shift key while giving orders to queue them up. In an additional nice touch, the game shows you the path your engineer or commander unit will take between build sites and give you an estimated completion time for each structure.