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Posted on Mar 6, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Supreme Commander – Game Review (PC)

By Andrew Summersgill

Controlling the game is very well done. Players can zoom down to unit level or right out into space to view the entire map at a strategic level, whereupon units become icons, flitting about the map as if on a RADAR screen. For co-ordinated attacks, and indeed for locating entire armies, the wide view is essential, since scrolling around would just take too long, but nothing can beat watching the battle up close. Units can also be individually tracked; it’s possible to follow a fighter in flight as it heads on a mission. And players aren’t limited to a top-down view; it’s possible to change the camera angle to bounce around the battlefield, watching the action from almost ground or sea level. One of my few criticisms is that in order to stay at such an angle, one must hold down a certain key combination, which is, frankly, a pain. My only other gripe is that the controls block a large portion of the screen, but my sources indicate this is being looked into, and may be resolved with a future patch.

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The AI in single player mode can be devious, altering its strategy to whatever the player throws at it. Even at the Normal (Easy) setting, an enemy AI will generate an impressive army, one that is no walkover, requiring a lot of thought to knock down. Give the AI enough time, and players will find themselves in pitched battle against the most stupendous war machines. Go up a notch or two, and suddenly the AI is using combined arms to level a player’s base – often these attacks are very scary. At the hardest setting, there are even three types of AI – one who will "Tech’ up" and defeat a player with awesome weapons, another will try an early rush to overwhelm players with swarms of low level units and the third type tries to balance these two options.

SupCom adds some useful automated features that the earlier title didn’t have. It’s now possible to set air transports to automatically ferry an army to its final position without intervention from the player. All one has to do is instruct the factories to churn out the troops, instruct them to assemble at a convenient location, and three clicks later, it’s done; any units arriving at said location will be picked up by an available transport and flown to the area chosen. This allows a player to concentrate on the crucible of battle, knowing his reinforcements will arrive automatically. Furthermore, the "assist" option allows a player to assign fighters to follow the transports wherever they go, thus, barring any mass attack by the enemy, a player can have confidence his transports are protected en route.

The assist option also allows additional Engineers to build structures faster, or even help factories produce the units they have queued up. Set a task to an Engineer to build a series of structures, assign another to assist it, and players can effectively ignore those units, knowing they will get the job(s) done. It’s an elegant system that takes away much of the micro-management that many object to in games such as this.

For once, I don’t even have a problem with the sound in a game – the music is suitably epic in scope and the only sounds made by the units produced are little clicks and whirs of acknowledgement, many of which sound identical to the ones in TA. The other major sounds are of course those of battle, and these are just as exciting as the graphic explosions which accompany them.

The game ships with a rather impressive Tech’ chart – a godsend which was only tarnished by the fact that it’s in French. Alas, a quick check of the Gas-Powered Games (GPGNet) forums shows me that ALL UK games were shipped with French charts in error. I just hope that I can get a replacement – then my Supreme Command bunker will be complete.

In summary, Supreme Command is a hot title, and a game I’m both pleased and proud to have in my collection – one that I anticipate playing for some years to come!

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