Supreme Commander 2 was a PC game released in 2010, and developed by Gas Powered Games. It was a Real-Time-Strategy game where players were given the command of a small military force, and was entrusted to build a base, gather resources and produce units to take out an opposing force. The player had a selection of three different factions to choose from (UEF, Cybran, and Aeon), which came with some personalised units. When the game was released; I was super excited to play it, as I was a fan of the previous installment. The first Supreme Commander is one of my all-time favourite video games. For a while it was my number 1 favourite, nowadays I am not so sure, but if you were to ask me on the spot which game was my favourite; I might just say Supreme Commander to be quick.
Supreme Commander was first released in 2007. The game was a spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, another RTS produced by Cavedog Entertainment, from 1997. Total Annihilation was designed by Chris Taylor, and was at the time of it’s release very highly praised winning some Game of the Year Awards. To this day it’s still highly praised and considered one of the best RTS games ever produced. Total Annihilation was a game much like Supreme Commander in that the player has control of a robotic force, which in turns builds a base and then an army to take on another opposing force: the two on option being the Core and the Arm.
Chris Taylor left Cavedog, and in 1998 founded Gas Powered games and produced games like Dungeon Siege. A few years down the line, he wanted to return to the world of the RTS and produce a follow-up to Total Annihilation; one problem however was that he didn’t own the rights to the name, nor couldn’t get access to them. So he produced something else instead. Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation are both very similar games, something that would become very apparent to fans of the original. The player starts with a giant robot like figure which can build buildings; called the Armoured Command Unit. This thing is used to create the initial resource gathering locations and buildings, before then going on to create the initial military structures. The big difference between the two when it comes to production however is in the upgrading capacity. In TA; players would build a factory, which then could produce a constructor bot, which could then make an advanced version of the factory; which could then produce even better vehicles. In SC players could build a factory, and then upgrade that factory to produce both tier 1 vehicles, and tier 2 as well. All factories of this kind had three tiers, each one providing access to better and more powerful units. Once Tier 3 has been reached, players could then build a tier 3 construction vehicle, which would then provide players with the ability to build Experimental Units.
Experimental Units were big-hulking-unique military units. They came in many different forms and had lots of different abilities. One for instance was s six legged spider tank with a big laser on it called a Monkey Lord. Another called the Mavor was a giant artillery cannon that couldn’t move but could fire anywhere on the map. Then another was the Galactic Colossus, a giant walking robot with a big laser. Each of the three factions had three experimental units each with different abilities, and were units to be feared on the battlefield. These units though weren’t invincible, as they could be destroyed by other experimental units, or even a big enough force of smaller vehicles. Oh, and Nuclear Weapons!
Supreme Commander was a powerhouse of a game, which featured a whole host of amazing vehicles and units. Think of it like this; a fully upgraded land factory had between 10-15-20 units available for construction. Then there was the naval factory which produced a smaller but similarly large number of sea based vehicles. Then you had the same with an air factory. Add these onto the three different experimental units per faction, and then some other available moving units: each faction had close to 50 different types of units, not including buildings, unique to them. Then you had the buildings different art designs per faction. That is a huge selection and variety of choice for a game like this, and worthy of being called a spiritual successor to Total Annihilation. Supreme Commander 2 however, was not!
I was super excited to play Supreme Commander 2, and as the weeks went by, my excitement grew, and I was sharing the news with as many people as I could. I bought the game in disc format from Game, and had an issue with it from the start due to needing a Steam account to play it. It took quite a few hours from getting home, to installation, to downloading Steam, plus an update before I could actually play it! And when it started, it was ok, I think the excitement sort of helped my enjoyment of it, but from the start I knew something wasn’t right.
For weeks I had looked up information and videos about new units and new technologies used to help create the game, and from them everything looked ok. But then I began to see that this wasn’t really a sequel to my favourite game; it was almost like playing something else entirely. Some of the old maps featured in the new one had either gotten smaller, or the units much, much bigger. The variety of choice was actually pretty limited. There was a new research system in place, but the end results of which was just a few basic units. The graphics looked amazing, and the factories were well done with personal little touches in how they produced stuff, but on the whole it just didn’t feel right.
There was a lot more experimental units this time around, but they were now somehow less powerful than before. They looked good, but they were pretty flimsy. There were some fun new ones like a cannon which shot units into an enemy base, and an interesting new version of the Galactic Colossus, but they just didn’t carry the level of fear the old ones used to. The maps were off too as there was now large missing gaps in the landscape, and very little room to really do stuff. It was like I was playing the sequel to something else. It actually looked more like Demigod, another RTS game Gas Powered Games released the previous year.
There was some fun to be had playing SC2, and I did enjoy some of the campaign, which was now a lot easier in comparison to SC1, but the game I loved which I could happily play for hours on end, to me didn’t have a worthy sequel, instead I got a much smaller experience, provided by a much smaller game. Supreme Commander 2 is a very disappointing sequel. It could have been great if it’s new design was justified, but it just wasn’t as fun as the previous game. Ironically what we got wasn’t Supreme Commander 2, it was more like an early predecessor to Planetary Annihilation.