Especially as the silliness extends to the units. The Experimentals - the super-units of the first SupCom - get a little more time in the sun this time around, increasing in number as well as in ease of availability. Minor Experimentals are smaller but no less crazy ones you can deploy fairly early in the match, or there's the option to "half-bake" a big'un: kick it into the world before it's even finished, but with a high chance of its grinding to a halt every few seconds.

The idea is that it's no longer just a game of indistinguishable tanks having at each other from great distances, but one where robotic colossi trade stand amidst and over this ongoing teenier warfare. There are 27 Experimentals in all, and only a few have been shown so far - an enormous UFO, a machine that speed-builds armies then lobs them at a distant location one-by-one, like some kind of apocalyptic Pez dispenser, the Illuminate Space Temple - a teleporter - and, most excitingly, the Cybranasaurus Rex.

Or "the big bloody dinosaur", as you'll doubtless refer to it. SupCom's has always been a cold, all-metal world, so the sudden appearance of something fleshy (albeit with enormous robotic implants and guns all over it) is a revelatory sight. The machine world comes alive at last: that's the kind of personality the developers are trying to get into SupCom 2 to leave behind that dead-eyed distance of the first game.

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There's also a little more autonomy now, which should help with that. Instead of sitting around waiting for orders, your ever-vital Engineer drones can now patrol, for instance, auto-collecting any scrap metal lying around and fixing any friendly units they pass. It's one more flicker of visible life to the game, and also one less thing to micro-manage in the heat of battle. It's one of many small changes designed to make the game more accessible, so you can think about grand strategy rather than the constant holding of tiny hands.

Some will grumble, inevitably, but the point of SupCom has always been Massive War: when you're a little more free to throw your vast army at another vast army, things can only got massiver. (Microsoft Word tells me "massiver" isn't a real word, incidentally, because Microsoft Word has no joy). It's all set in a brand-new (well, more or less - bits of Demigod seem to be in there) engine, too, so the fiddly blockiness of SupCom 1 is left behind in favour of something a little softer, a little more cartoony, almost.

Flashier but more personal. Complicated but more accessible. Bigger but smaller. Supreme Commander 2 may be steadfastly saluting the flag of strategy tradition, but one thing it certainly hasn't done is to take the easy road.

Supreme Commander 2 is due out for PC and Xbox 360 this spring.

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Alec Meer

Alec Meer

Contributor

A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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