Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

The mid-nineties was an era when PC gaming began in earnest, kick-started by the mighty Doom's release in 1993. First-person shooters burgeoned as a result, and their combination with the real-time strategy genre conspired to make the humble home personal computer a powerful commercial gaming platform. And when it came to RTSs, the one name on most people's lips was Command & Conquer. Except for those in the know. They namechecked Cavedog's futuristic adventure, Total Annihilation as a far superior game thanks to its huge battles, terrain-based tactics and imaginative units.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Keep running up that hill.

A chilly November evening, and I'm walking home from town. It's a forty minute journey, most of it steeply uphill. It's cold, it's dark, I'm tired and I'm bored. There's probably another ten or fifteen minutes to go when I grind to a sudden halt, and sigh. There's no pleasure in this. Why do I do it? Shouldn't the journey be as important as the destination? A light flicks on in a house just ahead of me. There's a pause, and then an unmistakable guitarline snakes out into the cold, quiet air. It's Sweet Child O'Mine. I half-grin, and start walking again, fingers unconsciously miming Guitar Hero buttons. I can't help but glance in the window of the house as I pass, hoping to see the face of my personal Jesus. The guy in there sees me and freezes, his fingers also mid air-guitar. We both pause in embarrassment. Then he looks at my hands. I look at his hands. He smiles. I smile. And I walk on, still grinning. Woah-oh-oh-oh, sweet child of mi-i-i-iyyyne.

The journey doesn't seem so bad now. Just that little bit of reward en route, no matter how silly, made the struggle so much more bearable. Enjoyable, even. I'll be home soon. Where I'll have to play more Forged Alliance. My smile fades a little.

This standalone expansion for none-more-massive RTS Supreme Commander doesn't want you to stop and have a giggle during its arduous uphill journey. It thinks making the angle of incline ever-sharper is entertainment in itself. It's a fabulous multiplayer game, but in single-player it's cruel and cold. It never rewards you with brief moments of pleasure during its crazy-long levels - it just points up at the yards and yards of sharp slope still ahead of you, and laughs at you. If you played campaign mode in the original SupCom, you'll know the faint horror of the phrase 'Operational area expanded'. Upon apparently vanquishing your foes, the map grows, revealing some hitherto unseen threat on a remote new corner rather than granting you the sense of achievement of a whole new level. Forged Alliance is even more unforgiving. Its oft-expanding maps are longer - the first one alone took me almost three hours - and it cheats like a bastard to boot. When the game zooms out, it doesn't, as its parent did, merely task you with a new enemy base to destroy. It also immediately throws everything it's got at you, ludicrous waves of drones and tanks and planes and battleships and submarines and skyscraper-high deathbots that'll often wipe-out half of what you've spent the last hour building in one fell, unfair swoop. Your hard-earned victory becomes a desperate fight for survival.

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SupCom heading to 360

RTS mayhem in early 2008.

Gas Powered Games has revealed that Supreme Commander will be heading to Xbox 360 early next year.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Robots as far as the eye can see.

The jock versus geek war wages even on the most microscopic scale. There have been some accusations, for instance that Supreme Commander can feel a little soulless compared to one of its more accessible peers such as Company of Heroes or Command & Conquer 3 - the jocks of RTS, the cool, popular kids who look purrrretty fine to you even if they're not, strictly speaking, your type. SupCom, by contrast, is the geek - the quiet one with a mighty mind throbbing furiously away behind his acquired-taste looks, but whose questionable social skills make it hard for him to make friends. Standalone expansion pack Forged Alliance hopes to change that. The trouble is, it has negative preconceptions to fight.

THQ unveils Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

THQ unveils Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Exclusive: standalone PC title due in November.

THQ has told Eurogamer that the next chapter in the Supreme Commander series is scheduled for release in November on Windows-based PCs.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance will be a standalone title that's nevertheless compatible with the original, allowing for new strategic options in both.

The new game follows the epic story of the Infinite War, introducing a brand new single-player campaign, a new faction and new multiplayer features.

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