|System: PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gas Powered Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 2, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Historically, real-time strategy (RTS) games and consoles have been like oil and water; they don't tend to mix very well. This is largely due to balancing and gameplay issues that arise as a direct result of not having the ability to use mouse and keyboard controls to play them. Instead, the complex controls required to handle an RTS experience are often oversimplified and/or broken in order to try to make them work with a controller. Either that or they are almost completely unmanageable due to the variety and complexity of commands that the developers try to pack into a controller that clearly isn't meant to handle them. Thankfully, Supreme Commander 2's control scheme manages to find a happy medium with its control scheme while also being a much more playable game than its predecessor.
While the previous Supreme Commander was loved on the PC, it was virtually an unplayable mess on the Xbox 360. A plethora of technical and control issues plagued the port, leaving many disappointed and doubtful about future console entries in the series. I'm happy to say, Supreme Commander 2 should definitely alleviate any fears that fans may have. Most notably, no matter what is going on on-screen, how many units you are controlling, and how you are viewing the game it continues to run at a consistent framerate; no horrible chugging or freezing to be found here.
The controls are also, surprisingly, quite good, being easy enough to use for beginners and newcomers while also supporting the complexity needed for more advanced players. For example, something that console RTS games typically have problems with is in selecting and sorting your forces. In Supreme Commander 2 players can select a single unit by pressing the A button or double tap it to select all units of the same type. It is also possible to hold down the A button to create a selection ring that can be drug over whichever units you'd like to control as a group. And when you're making that last run on an opponent, you can also use the select all on-screen units command, by pressing the right bumper, in order to grab all of your forces for that final all-out push. Managing your forces, no matter how many fronts you are currently engaged on, works unexpectedly well and lays the foundation for this very enjoyable console RTS experience.
Another aspect that really makes managing several battlefields at the same time feasible is this game's camera controls. As you'd expect in almost any RTS game at this point, you are able to move the camera around the battlefield using the left analog stick, while also being able to rotate the camera with the right stick. However, what you may not expect is this game's strategic zoom feature, which is another major reason this game plays so well.
Pressing up on the right analog stick is used in order to zoom in incredibly closely on units, structures, or anything else you may want a closer view of. Holding down on the same stick will pull the camera out to the point where the entire map will be visible. In this view you are still able to keep track of units, structures, and your foes as they are all still displayed, and even conveniently numbered in the case of your grouped units, giving you a great strategic view from which to launch attacks on multiple fronts. Players can also use any view point in between, not being limited to just close-ups or distant views, and zoom in and out at will. Because of this, being able to see what is going on anywhere on the battlefield is never an issue.
Supreme Commander 2's single-player campaign is fairly lengthy, coming in at eighteen missions. During the course of the campaign you'll play as three different factions, at six missions apiece. While there definitely are some differences between playing as the United Earth Federation (UEF), Illuminate, or the Cybran Nation, they all still feel rather similar. Some of the units or their abilities may be slightly different but, for the most part, they are almost indistinguishable. While the many similarities do make switching between these three factions seem largely unnecessary, it doesn't really detract from the game. At least it seems much easier to get the hang of playing as each faction since they are largely the same. Still, once you fully learn the ins and outs of each faction, it is possible to find certain nuances that will make you favor some above others.