If you like the original, you’re simply going to love Forged Alliance
As the stand-alone expansion pack to Supreme Commander, this title unites all previously warring factions against a common alien threat in a game called Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. As far as an expansion pack goes, this is a shining example of what one should be. Not only is it a stand-alone, which means you don’t have to have the original to play it, but it improves on the original in virtually every aspect, from the gameplay to the graphics. If you like the original, you’re simply going to love Forged Alliance.
Comparisons are inevitable. But if you haven’t played the original game, making comparisons is like explaining color to a blind man. Just bear with me a moment, and let me do some explaining. The original game was a little heavy on the nerd factor. There was an awful lot of fussing going on, making this one of the more unnecessary complicated RTS games. Fortunately, I didn’t have to review the original game. I tried playing it, but after a couple of hours I just didn’t have the patience to deal with all of the micromanagement issues. It seemed like too much work for such little payback.
Forged Alliance isn’t necessarily more accessible; it’s just arranged more intuitively. Interface commands have been simplified, but not at the expense of depth. It will take some time investment, but the interface makes things a little easier, not only for programming commands, but it’s more compact making the battlefield easier to see. It’s my opinion that the gameplay that should be challenging, not the rules. With more emphasis on action, the game has really been kicked into high gear and seems to make the payback worth the commitment. Once the theory class is over, it’s time for the practical exam. Time to kick some ass. The only real downside to this expansion pack is that you can only play as the Seraphim online if you don’t have the original game.
A new alien threat known as the Seraphim has caused former enemies, The Cybran, Aeon, and UEF, to band together, or be forced to forge alliances, as the title suggests. New weapons, units, crafts, strategies, and a more user-friendly interface keep the series alive and kicking. The graphics are more impressive, with larger draw distances that help you keep track of events on the battlefield more precisely. Zooming in on areas reveals great attention to detail regarding army units, buildings, and terrain.
There’s no getting away from exploiting resources. They must be collected, processed, and the resulting products distributed. It’s all a matter of careful balancing, as you attempt to stabilize your economy as a society. In order to produce more technical components, you have to increase your general level of sophistication in the production department. There are a number of technical levels you have to reach, with one being the lowest and most basic. In order to increase your technical levels, you’ll have to successfully deal with each subsequent tech level. That means learning how to manage your resources for the best possible results regarding your units. As any good RTS fan will tell you, it really boils down to not putting all your eggs in one basket. You have to identify the enemy’s weakness, and attempt to exploit them while at the same time assessing and addressing your own vulnerability.
Units operate on land, on sea, and in the air. In the case of the Destroyers, they are capable of double duty as they can crawl out of the water and scurrying about on land. The map allows you to issue orders easily, and have different units warring in all three theaters with a minimum of micromanagement. Pathfinding orders are well executed, with units seemingly understanding where they’re supposed to go and what’s expected of them.
Bot building is quick and efficient. Familiar experimental units such as the Spiderbots and Colossus can be constructed as quickly as an average load time. The Spiderbots are quick, deadly, and very efficient. They are programmed not to kill allied units. The aliens have a huge bomber that is capable of incredible destruction. This is a weapon that you’ll have little defense against, even with your mobile shield generators in place and in full working order. This is where strategy comes into play as you attempt to destroy the unit in charge of the bomber before they get a chance to put it into use.
There isn’t much doubt as to your objective in each mission, but there are times when new missions are introduced immediately after completion of the first. These new missions will catch you unaware, and therefore you won’t have time to plan. I may sound like a whiner here, but I pride myself in preparing my strategies for upcoming missions, and being surprised is not my favorite element. Leave that for action and shooter games. These surprise events usually involve waves of enemy units attacking from all directions. It introduces trial and error, causing you to start back at the last save point and make the necessary changes to your strategy.
Expanding on events after the Infinite War, the story is really inconsequential to the gameplay. The original three factions display very little diversity to differentiate them. If you played one, you played them all. On the surface, the Seraphim look like they will offer a much-needed diversion, but aside from some new weapons, crafts, and generally more expensive units, there’s still not a very discernable difference.
You’re going to need all the processing power you can get. This is one seriously good looking game. The original was great, and this version actually improves on it. There is lots of detail, and that comes with a compromise, which translates into slowdown. It’s not excessive, but considering what your PC is attempting to process, it’s forgivable.
New maps, missions, skirmishes, and options can be found online. The A.I. can be tweaked to accommodate your style of playing. There are tons of command options to choose from to personalize the warfare. It seems that there will be new things to explore and experience as the online community grows and matures. I found the community to be very helpful in regards to giving me pointers. In fact, under advice from a friend, I went online first to learn how to play the single-player game. I did have a working knowledge from having played the original, but I needed more than just a refresher.
Fans of the series are definitely going to get more than they bargained for with this expansion pack.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
Excellent attention to detail. You’ll need lots of processing power. 4.1 Control
The game is still difficult to learn, but the new interface and online community make it easier. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Amazing explosions, sound effects, and music score. Crank up the volume. 4.4 Play Value
The online community shows lots of replay value potential with new maps, missions, and skirmishes. 4.7 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.