Remember the huge unit counts? The unique resource collection system? Well, it’s all here… but now it’s BIGGER. By ‘bigger’, I mean ‘absolutely titting huge’. You’ve never seen battles like this. Armies of hundreds of huge, stomping robots, gunships, tanks, bombers and battleships wage war across massive battlefields. It really is a sight to behold (although you’re going to need to be packing some serious CPU power to see it in all it’s glory).
Each of the game’s three races has a fairly similar set of units, split into three ‘tech levels’. Invest the time and resources into upgrading your tech levels and you are rewarded with hugely powerful units, including ‘super-units’ when you hit level three. These super-units really add something new to the game. These guys can take up to 20 minutes to build, but once they’re up and running, they become nigh-indestructible killing machines (the super-units vary between races; one race has a giant stomping 50s b-movie cyclops robot and an Independence Day-style mothership, another has huge spider-robots).
Naturally, you’ve got your single player and skirmish modes, along with the obligatory online support.
The single player mode is pretty fun, but the developers seem to have a bit of a hard-on for naval battles, which will fill at least half of the three single player campaigns. That’s all well and good, except… well… the naval units are a bit rubbish. As soon as you get more than a handful of them, they tend to start ignoring your orders and get stuck against cliffs a lot, which can get pretty damn annoying.
Speaking of flaws, there aren’t many. There are a few issues, like base defences being a bit too powerful (making the end-game turn into a few hours of artillery bombardement in the hope that the base’s shields will eventually fall – failing that, there’s always a well-timed nuclear missile) along with a few balance issues with units, but all in all, these can be overlooked.
Skirmish mode is also a good time-filler. The computer AI is far too easy though and won’t provide any sort of challenge to any reasonably-seasoned RTS gamer.
Multiplayer is where the game really begins to shine though. Two decent players can make a game stretch on for hours, with huge, micro-managed armies blasting at each other for small territory gains. Although it can be a bit daunting for players new to the game, as there is just so much to learn!
All in all, Supreme Commander is a pretty damn good game. It’s not at all perfect, but a very entertaining distraction nonetheless. The few flaws can niggle at times, but they are washed away when you see four hundred units pouring into each other, lasers and cannons blasting away (and then a giant cyclops comes along and kills everything – and is then killed by a stray nuke).