Supremacy: Four Paths To Power Review

Supremacy: Four Paths to Power is a turn-based strategy game of space conquest with both space fleet battles and planetary ground assaults. These types of games are few and far between for some reason, and fans of space exploration and combat face long waits between releases in this genre. In the case of Supremacy my advice is to keep waiting. The game is a lot simpler than the norm for games of this type, but it does not make up for this simplicity with good gameplay or strategic depth and so you have a game that won’t hold your interest for very long.

You begin a game of Supremacy by selecting from one of the four alien leaders. Your choice will determine the race of your starting planet and the bonuses applied to your side for the game. Next you must select a game type which sets the game’s objective and can range from racing to rescue a VIP to the tried and true conquer all space option. You can also set a turn limit on the game or leave it open-ended until one side meets the victory conditions. The game will actually let you zoom in to the point where a single square fills the screen, but this is total overkill since the ship models are not very detailed at all.

When play begins you’ll find yourself on a 2D map of a region of space overlaid with a square grid and with 3D planets scattered about the place. There’s no fog of war in the game, so you’ll be able to see the whole region at a glance or you can zoom in on the map to get a better look at local affairs.

Starting with a few ships and your homeworld you’ll need to build a star fleet and head out into space to conquer new worlds or rescue the hostage or what have you. Movement is entirely turn-based – you move one unit at a time by selecting it and then clicking on a new square to move to. Selecting a ship will cause the squares within its movement range to become highlighted making it easy to see where you can and can not move. After the ship reaches its new square a mini-menu pops-up which allows you to initiate an attack against a neighboring enemy or confirm that the ship’s movement is complete. Science ships and transports will have additional options on their mini-menu such as “Capture Station” and “Load troops”, respectively. The former option is used to capture the neutral research stations that float around space busily enjoying the pursuit of knowledge until an alien race comes along and makes them design weapons upgrades. The game seems a little touchy when it comes to registering your movement clicks and you can easily undo a move by forgetting to click on the “Done” option, so movement in the game is a bit of a slow affair and takes some getting used to.

Ship to ship combat is strictly a one on one encounter – move a ship next to an enemy and fire, move the next ship and fire, etc. Squares on the grid can only be occupied by one ship at a time, so there’s no way to mass your fire at an enemy. When combat occurs a little laser bolt is fired from the attacker, the defender fires back a similar bolt, hit points are reduced, and the battle is over. It’s a slow-paced and none too exciting affair.

Conquering a planet involves moving troops to the planet with a transport and dropping them onto the surface. When such a battle occurs, the game switches to a 3D map with the attacking and defending units squaring off in a turn-based battle. Or at least the game tries to switch to a 3D map – I encountered several crashes to the desktop when ground combat occurred. Despite the fact that there are a few different unit types available for each of the game’s four races, there’s not a lot of strategy to the ground battles. You just trade shots with the enemy until there is only one side left standing, so the side with the most units or more strong units than the other will invariably win. Before long you’ll be wishing that the game simply auto-resolved the planetary battles.