Supreme Commander

Key events

11th September 2008

Supreme Commander

20th April 2007

GPG confirms console game

15th February 2007

Supreme Commander

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

Supreme Commander

Tank rushed.

Fitting Supreme Commander onto the 360 is a bit like squeezing a horse into a chest of drawers - even if you can, that doesn't mean you should. With the massive battles and sweeping strategic vision of the PC version already melting CPUs and warping motherboards on anything but high-end gaming rigs, trying to port this much sound and fury onto a console seems like an act of sheer bravery. And it undoubtedly is, but then so was the Charge of the Light Brigade. Sometimes, simple bravery is not enough. Sometimes, what's really called for is a little bit of judgement too.

The good news is that, the option to play on two monitors aside, almost all of the original game has made it across. From the choice of three factions, to the range of units, to the slow clamber up the three-level tech tree, all of the crucial elements are in place, as is the dizzy sense of scale that lies at the heart of the game. The control scheme is a success, too, although it can initially take a bit of time to get used to. Building, grouping, and issuing commands are all handled gracefully by a series of radial dials mapped to the d-pad, unit selection is taken care of by varying taps at the A button (stabs in my case, ever since I spilt chocolate milkshake on the controller), and the famous strategic zoom, which allows you to lurch from close-up action to a view of the entire battlefield in seconds, is controlled with the right thumb-stick.

The results can still be fairly intimidating - even with the on-screen stats slimmed down, there's a lot of information to take in at any one time, particularly when you've got a couple of factories chewing through some hefty build queues - but pains have clearly been taken to make Supreme Commander as simple to comprehend as a game with this kind of agenda is ever likely to be. Equally, although the lengthy tutorial possesses an almost Amish-like refusal to indulge in thrills and glamour of any kind, it provides a handy and much-needed introduction into the frightening wealth of tactical options available beyond.

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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.

GPG confirms console game

GPG confirms console game

As well as new SupCom stuff.

Supreme Commander developer Gas Powered Games has confirmed it is working on a next-generation console title, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

The title will be the first home console project from the acclaimed development team, following a focus primarily on the PC market, and will be based on all new IP.

The company is also working on more Supreme Commander titles and other original titles for PC.

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Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander

Appropriate.

Every other game I ever play for the next, I dunno, million years, is going to feel flat and small and boring. Why? Because they'll only be running on one monitor. Thanks to its ingenious graphical trickery, I can play Supreme Commander on two monitors, and it does funny things to my brain. Something in it I don't usually use is being exercised, but it feels good. I feel totally in control of the game this way. I'm not entirely sure how to describe the way I'm thinking when I use those two screens. It's nothing anywhere near as static as the average DS approach of here is the action / here is the map. Rather, it's more like I'm right in on a battle one on side, while on the other I check to see if a frigate's finished building - not skipping my focus between the two, but somehow watching both at once. Only it's ever-shifting, like I have a pair of robotic eyes zooming coolly in and out at will.

I'm not entirely sure how I managed to play real-time strategy games without two monitors before. All that clumsy mousing over bits of map, hotkeys to jump to structures and only being able to manage one fight at once seems so terribly backwards compared to this. With enough practice and some sort of fiendish mod, I reckon I could control the game with two separate mice too. I'd be the ultimate General, coolly able to direct two wars at once, the look spoiled only slightly by having to glue a pointy stick to my forehead so I could use the keyboard as well.

SupComm's incredible bigness (remarkably intact on just one monitor, should you be a pauper) is perhaps final proof of the surprising fact that RTS, once the most-lampooned of all PC game types, is now firmly established as the platform's most artisan genre. Built on a solid foundation of what made l'il army games so compelling in the very first place - that is, WAR! - then pumped up with ungodly sci-fi steroids, it feels like a definitive statement. In some booming, oh-so-macho voice it inarguably intones 'This. Is. How. It's. Done.'

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Supreme Commander demo

Try out Taylor's "labour of love".

Gas Powered Games has released a playable demo of Supreme Commander, its hotly anticipated real-time strategy game, the full version of which is due out on 16th February.

Supreme Commander

Alec takes a near-complete build for a spin.

This is the most complicated simple game you'll play in a while. It's the cheerful fling that quickly and quietly becomes something serious, something so intense it's mentally exhausting in all the right ways. Supreme Commander is unashamedly RTS, reduced to the nuts, bolts and panels of bewildering icons that have always defined that most PC of all game genres. Its only pretension is to be really big - it doesn't have Total War's grand strategy map or Company of Heroes' merry gene-splicing of the formula, nor does it need them. It just needs to be huge, and that's where the complexity comes in. Hundreds of units, each with their own handicaps and potencies, maps that'll wear your mouse-arm out to pan entirely across, and constant battles on a good half-dozen different fronts simultaneously. The objective is only ever to kill the other guy, but when there's so much to think about at once, it ain't easy.

EGTV: Exclusive Supreme Commander trailer

EGTV: Exclusive Supreme Commander trailer

Glimpse of the futuristic future.

THQ's impressive stand at this year's E3 was something of an RTS frenzy, with the likes of Company Of Heroes, Dawn of War: Dark Crusade and Supreme Commander vying for attendees' attention.

Eurogamer TV is now showing an exclusive new trailer of the latter title, developed by Gas Powered Games, the guys who made Dungeon Siege and whose CEO Chris Taylor created Total Annihilation.

Set in the far flung future (the 37th century to be precise), THQ is billing Supreme Commander as the 'next evolution in RTS'. The rather thrilling four-minute trailer offers a detailed glimpse of the game in action, comprised entirely of in-game footage.

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FeatureSupreme Commander

E3: Sadly not a Diana Ross-based RTS.

Chris Taylor is a man with ambitions on a grand scale. It all started a decade ago, when he helped to create Total Annihilation - one of the most popular real-time strategy games of all time. Taylor failed to secure the rights to produce a sequel, but went on to set up his own studio, Gas Powered Games, which enjoyed a healthy amount of success with Dungeon Siege.