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Posted on Apr 1, 2005 in Electronic Games

Supremacy – Four Paths to Power – Game Review (PC)

Armchair General

Ground combat requires the player to transport troops to a planet for deployment. Vast freighters are available for this task, although as you would expect it’s wise to protect them from attack – lose the Freighter, lose your army. Each Freighter has a certain amount of storage capacity and each type of unit takes up a certain number of slots within the hold. The trick here is to pick a diverse mix of forces, not necessarily uinits of th same type., Once battle commences, you’re stuck with what you’ve got.

In stand-alone ground campaigns, the Freighter concept is replaced by Factories which have the same effect – players instruct their factories what to build at the start of the scenario and then that’s it for the game.

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Move1.jpg Factory_small.jpg

Landscapes are well-realised on small-scale maps that allow for much strategy. Terrain of course is the issue here and one must use the terrain to ones advantage to destroy your enemy. Here we can see my Army, consisting of infantry-types and some large Tanks. These Tanks can deploy into Siege mode when instructed, becoming dangerous fixed emplacements that are difficult to shift.

Planet_small.jpg Troops_small.jpg

Graphics

Graphically the game is smooth and sleek – the whole game has a polished, slick feel to it like chromed steel. From the easily navigable menus to the playing area itself, the whole game meshes together wonderfully and at all times the graphics are smooth and uncluttered. My initial thoughts on loading the game were that the space elements strongly resembled the Star Trek Armada series with the way the game handles the 2D plane, except that Supremacy manages the transition between the standard top-down mode and the 3D mode in a more intuitive way, in this case it’s simply a case of pressing mouse buttons and zooming around, no mashing the keyboard here.

Despite the fact that this is a Turn-Based and not Real-Time game, the ground battles reminded me in many ways of the Total Annihilation series, with beautifully rendered landscapes and even towering spires of rock like that old RTS classic.

Eye candy is in abundance and space phenomena occasionally appear off in the background. One such occurrence took place whilst I was planning a major assault on my enemies. As the beautiful shape of a distant galaxy shimmered in the background, my fleet and I were visited by a passing comet. Unfortunately, as I stared at the majestic image gliding by, the timer on my turn clicked down to nothingness and I effectively lost my turn!

Let this be a warning to you all – eye candy can be dangerous!

Sound

Putting aside my general dislike of in-game music, the sound in Supremacy is actually quite pleasing to the ear. Various "alien-esque" sounds pop up at different points to emphasise the other-wordly nature of the game and all the weapons sound suitably meaty. For once, the sound and music are relatively low-key, this scores points with me. Occasionally, your CO will also talk to you and give you little details about the game which is a nice touch and adds to the immersive nature of the scenarios.

Multiplayer

Supremacy supports TCP/IP connection for two players. There is no Play By E-Mail option. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to engage in any Multiplayer games, so I am unable to comment on this aspect.

Summary

Although Supremacy is quite "light" compared to other games out there, it often feels as if the developers have taken all the best bits of games such as Master of Orion II and Total Annihilation and meshed them together in one package. There’s some satisfaction to be had in securing a defensive perimeter around an enemy planet whilst you land troops on the ground and conduct a campaign of conquest below, plus of course it’s fun to play Admiral and take command of immense warships. The one main annoyance as expressed above is that when playing the AI, the game forces you to sit through the entirety of the computer’s move, this can take a long time during a big scenario.

Having said all of this, I have concerns about the potential for replay value on the basis that there are only 16 maps available for play. Furthermore, it’s not really possible to delve any deeper into the universe that’s on display, everything that the game has to offer is already there there to be seen and it’ll be the same whether you are playing for the first time or the one-hundredth time. Without wishing to unduly knock the game, I must say that it just didn’t inspire me as much as others have done and accordingly my overall score reflects this.

Armchair General Score: 61%

20/40 — Gameplay
10/15 — Graphics
05/10 — Sound
10/15 — Interface
05/05 — Installation Technical
05/05 — Documentation
06/10 — General’s Rating

Specifications

Specifications for running Supremacy: Four Paths to Power are as follows:

Windows 2000/XP

800Mhz Intel or AMD CPU

128 MB RAM

64 MB 3D Video Card

16 bit DirectX Compatible Sound Card

CD-ROM

500MB Free Hard Drive Space

DirectX 9 or higher

Links

Official Site

Matrix Games

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Andrew Summersgill

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

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