|Borrowed Copyrighted Content|
Supreme Commander (SupCom) is a large scale RTS that plays out titanic battles on land, sea and air. Its fought between generic forces, each commanded by a giant, singular robot commander that represents you on the battlefield. Your commander or Armoured Command Unit (ACU) is the seed that grows into an impressive military machine that covers nearly every niche of land, sea, air and strategic weaponry. Tanks, bots, planes, ships, subs, turrets, shields, nukes, and Godzillan superweapons - they're all there. Battles between opponents can easily take about an hour, and can easily involve hundreds, if not thousands of units, depending on how many players are involved.
There are two games and one expansion in the series so far. RTSC will fixate primarily on the standalone expansion, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, and treat that as the "definitive" version of the game. The sequel, Supreme Commander 2, while snappier looking, is far smaller in scope and more accessible to a wider gaming audience. In other words, SupCom2 got dumbed down, lost most of its epic flavour and grandeur, losing a lot of old SupCom and Total Annihilation players in the process.
The first Supreme Commander was the long awaited "spiritual successor" to Total Annihilation, and came arguably close to being a perfect game sequel. Starting off from where Total Annihilation left off, Supreme Commmander pushed the basic premise further, updated the graphics, sound, units, and networking and presented the player with an almost infinitely configurable GUI that never seems to get in the way. The game can be serviced and maintained using Gas Power Games' GPG.net service. GPG.net applies patches, provides an online gaming environment, multiplayer replays and a ranking system. It's more than just an echo of the old Total Annihilation's Boneyards multiplayer service.
Its quite obvious that the developers have not only reprised TA in all its glory, but they paid close attention to the extraordinary output of the fans over the years as well. Supreme Commander appears to be the distillation of every custom mod, unit pack, and home grown add-on built by the TA modding community over the last decade, with all the repetition and dead wood stripped out. What you get is a very polished - if not demanding game - for your PC that has at least five years of life built into it. You'll need a solid PC to get the most out of it, though.
There's been a big trend in the last decade towards the hands on, micromanaging "twitch" style of the WarCraft RTS, or the more recent "Defence of the Ancients" game style where players focus entirely on a Hero and their character progression in a small team game. The whole game centres around these heroes, and a lot of the complexity comes about from insider knowledge of how each Hero plays differently to the rest. Starcraft, Warcraft and the DotA's of this world restrict your access to the game's GUI, limiting your perspective, imposing limits on the number of units you can control and relying on a lot of high speed, stimulus-response "gamer athletics" to prevail. Winners show off considerable mouse and keyboard skills and timing to pull off a win - whilst at the same time demonstrating some big picture strategising, usually at high speed. This combination of fine control and big picture strategy is why Starcraft deserves its legendary status in the gaming world, and why South Koreans have all but turned it into a national sport.
However, Supreme Commander's a different kind of beast. Its more austere, less intimate, and more about crowd control. There aren't any charismatic units; your forces are made up of disposable and anonymous drones, built and lost in swarms. The only intricate magic spells you'll find here are On/Off switches. You can upgrade Mass Mines and factories, and there are some seriously expensive upgrades on your commander. But essentially all units are completely without upgrades or improvements. The small tank you build at the start of a six hour marathon game will still be exactly the same small tank at the end of it. Some games give you one tank with three magic upgrades: SupCom gives you three different tanks - small, medium and big, each produced from a small, medium and big factory respectively.