Supreme Commander Reader Review
Gas Powered games didn�t try to reinvent the wheel with supreme commander, but they may have added alloys and a new set of tires. The game is itself based on fairly basic tropes of both science fiction and RTS, mixed together in an interesting way and well complemented by the few innovations the game does make.
The basic story structure is based around 3 factions, each based on a standard sci-fi visions of humanity twisted subtly to provide the basic conflict of the plot line. The UEF represent a star trek vision of a united human front, willing and able to forcibly impose that unity. The Aeon are a space opera enlightened peaceful caste, on a galaxy wide extremist purge. Just like modern religion... The Cybrans meanwhile are cyberpunk techno-fetishists fighting for survival in a galaxy where they�re either slaves or heretics in the eyes of the stronger factions. Each 6 mission campaign deals with the same events from different points of view, which allows for some interesting crossover and alternate viewpoints. The briefing dialogue is a bit hammy, but considering the pulpy nature of the overall narrative it doesn�t stand out too badly, and I much preferred listening to the charachters banter to reading the summary.
Into the game itself, each mission follows a similar structure whereby at the start of the map the player is only on a portion of the map, the map expanding subsequently on the completion of mission objectives. The game can be quite impatient when it comes to completing missions, with frequent "in character" reminders which would probably be fairly charming if they weren�t so frequent. The expanding mission set up serves fairly well to draw out the missions, but the often repetitive objectives (Lot�s of destroying bases...) mars the implementation of what could have been a much more powerful storytelling technique. Gameplay has ever been more important than narrative in RTS, and as much as supreme commander�s strict reliance on basic genre element�s to form the core game feel�s a little lacking in new idea�s at first glance it is never less than highly polished. Innovation is not absent from the game however and numerous features become apparent as proficiency with the basic concepts arrives. The assisting and command chaining abilities become invaluable in ensuring the smooth flow of your bases development and that your forces get where they need to go quickly and efficiently. This allows a greater degree of control at the top end than I�ve personally previously encountered and makes overall strategy a fair bit more important as opposed to tactics. The ease of setting up waves of multi-directional attacks, of different force compositions, allows a well organised and prepared force to quickly divide and conquer a theorethically superior foe.
The whole map scrolling is probably the most revolutionary thing the game does, and despite fairly decently drawn and animated units, and maps which are ,honestly and unfortunately, boring to look at, at any distance, most of my time playing was spent fully zoomed out, zooming in only to give precise orders or examine specific feature�s.
If it is supreme, it�s not quite perfect. The UI unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. Its large and clunky and quite obtrusive at first, with few options for modification. In game differences between the factions are also functionally minor. Their unit selections are almost identical as each faction has units which fill the same roles, individuality stemming mostly from secondary abilities and differing balances of offensive and defensive capability. Also the game automatically assumes a certain level of familiarity with RTS in general, aiming squarely at the well established RTS player-base, the tutorials feeling very tacked on and slightly unfriendly, consisting of an empty sandbox map and a few explanatory videos. Although these don�t stop supreme commander from being an excellent example of the form, the time investment needed to move past these flaws may prevent more casual enjoyment of the game. A pity as in the right hands supreme commander lives up to its lofty title.
8 / 10