Supreme Commander • Page 2

E3: Sadly not a Diana Ross-based RTS.

Moving on

It's not all about naval combat, although you do also get to play with cruisers, frigates, destroyers, subs and anti-subs. But then there's your air force, which will include fighters, bombers, scouts and gunships. On land, you've got support units such as radar jammers and shield generators, plus all manner of bots and tanks.

To get them around, you'll need transport - and as you might expect, the transport units in Supreme Commander offer something over and above those in other RTS games.

"Transports typically move units that disappear up inside; there's a little suspension of disbelief while these things disappear into a small space. We try to sustain a realistic view of transportation in the game, so that these units can actually mount up on special brackets and be fully functional in flight," Taylor explains.

"We've got a forward and rear air-to-ground assault cannon, and we've got forward and rear mounted anti-aircraft guns, so these transport units can defend themselves in flight; they can operate as a gunship as well as a transport unit. And by putting a mobile shield generator on one, we've also got a shield system - it's a way to create an emergent behaviour system where you can mix and match."

There's also a unit called a mobile factory, which can defend itself in between churning out yet more units with its mounted battleship cannons and the two air staging platforms positioned on its roof. "Just like in real life, where you take guns and put them on different units, we do the same thing in Supreme Commander," says Taylor.

"This is a full-on factory, so you can build units, but this thing of course goes along the sea floor as well, so you can invade from underneath the sea." Of course.

Nuclear reaction

naval

Naval battles will be key to your success, so you'll be grateful for those bloody big ships.

If all else fails, or if you just fancy unleashing even more devastation, there's always another option open to you...

"Supreme Commander supports a full complement of nuclear weapons - one for every occasion. I'm not talking about the little backyard nukes, we're talking about nukes that really take stuff out."

To demonstrate, Taylor fires one off - and for a second, the entire screen dissolves into a blaze of light. Then come the shockwaves, blasting units into nothing as they radiate outwards, leaving nothing but scorched earth and a giant mushroom cloud behind them.

"This is what a nuke does, so we may as well portray it properly in our game. It puts a crimp on things when you get one of those right in the face."

Of course, there's nothing more fun than shoving a nuclear weapon in the face of a friend, and Supreme Commander will have a selection of multiplayer modes accordingly. They're being kept under wraps for now, but it's previously been revealed that the game will have a co-op mode, too - and apparently it'll support up to eight players.

"It's fun to play an RTS game for 20 to 30 minutes, maybe a quick skirmish on what we call one of our 256 or 512 maps. But it's also a lot of fun to roll up your sleeves on a Saturday afternoon and play all day long with a friend, and go for the bigger, theatre of war engagement," according to Taylor.

It's clear that while Supreme Commander may be the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, Taylor's team is attempting to offer a whole lot more with this game. From the sheer size of the maps to the options you have for viewing them to the range and scale of the battle units, there's plenty to get excited about if you're a TA fan. And, indeed, if you're a fan of RTS games in general. Supreme Commander is out next year.

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