Supreme Commander: Giant Robots Make Tanks Very Flat


So this game’s been hyped up for the past eighteen-hundred months, a game that claims to revolutionize the RTS genre for everyone. So what does it have?

New system? Nope.

Really awesome graphics with low requirements? You wish.

No, it really just dives right into the inner geek of everyone who loved playing RTS games, who said to themselves, “Hey, if I could just step on them, then they’d like… die faster.” So hey, someone heard you!

Supreme Commander takes a short flight away from the traditional RTS game by incorporating what I will now refer to as the “black and white aspect,” which is to say the ability to zoom out so you can’t see anything, and BIG FREAKING UNITS.

The premise is simple: there is a war called the infinity war, because that’s how long it’ll take you to finish the game. There are three “races,” or shall I say “collectives,” to play: The United Earth Federation, the “good guys” who fight for freedom, and the Aeon Illuminate, the “Holy religious zealots,” and the Cybran Nation, whom the other two don’t care about.

The first thing I have to mention is that the story is inconsequential. Although graphics and presentation are impressive, there’s not much story to it other than that there’s this big fight going on already. (If you’re looking for a better story, get Dune.) In addition, all three races are pretty much the same. Other than aesthetics and names, the formula for playing the game remains the same regardless of who you choose. It is for this reason that the game can become repetitive and tedious sometimes.

Playing the game is similar to any other RTS with one exception: you have a commander unit. This giant robot is, well, you. It can build, attack and move extremely slowly. If it is destroyed, you lose the game. Everything else is expandable. Missions range from destruction to rescue ops to stealthy covert operations. Usually it involves destroying the enemy’s commander, but not always.

The game plays differently as well. The feel of it is more like RISK than Command and Conquer. This is because you usually know how the enemy defends and attacks, and once you get their patterns down, as long as you lay down a solid defense, you can literally take your own sweet time working on whittling down the opposition. Indeed, your tech is almost always better than theirs at any given time, so the only issue is that it takes an insane amount of real-life time to finish one map. In other words, you HAVE to plan. Each unit works in a scissors-paper-rock system and all you have to do is build the units that neutralize theirs in whatever combination. It can stretch.

The campaign takes you over huge maps of epic proportions. Every time you finish a mission in a certain level, the map gets expanded, and you find out that you have a long way to go before the level is complete. Each one can take hours, depending on your personal playing style, but be assured that planning is necessary. This is one game in which building a hundred of the best units and “Zerg-rushing” your enemy is not an option. First of all, you need some smarts to handle resource management, and you also have to micromanage base construction. A good feature is the “build queue” for engineer units, which allows you to queue their instructions so you can take care of things somewhere else.

But what about the mechanics? Well, as stated, they have the black and white system, by which you can zoom in to see each individual tank being constructed and seamlessly zoom out to get a good view of the entire battle. Of course, to better control the battle, you’ll more often find yourself in the zoomed-out mode in which all the units turn into mini pixel icons for easy tracking. It’s no wonder this is one of the only games I play with the graphics turned down LOW; I don’t need superior graphics to look at a block of blue for 80% of the time. And trust me, after awhile, you’ll be glad for the simplicity of it all. Zooming in is good for micromanaging individual bases and defense placements, but not much else.

So I guess, in summary, it’s a game with a unique system simply for people who like to wage war on a scale larger than any other game. It’s not mindless—you actually have to think—but planning isn’t hard, thanks to the clear unit descriptions.

All in all, it’s a game worth trying if you have the time and enjoy RTS games. If you’re new to the genre, pick up something a little less overwhelming first.

Oh, and you’ll notice I didn’t talk about the FREAKING HUGE ROBOTS. Well, that’s because all you have to do is close your eyes. Go on, right now. Now think of any RTS game you’ve ever played, and think of yourself, in the game, stepping on your enemy.

There we go.