Some ten years ago, a little game called Total Annihilation dropped out of the sky and blew away the RTS competition like a daisy-cutter bomb. A few expansion packs and gobs of user-created mods followed, but time eventually took its toll and TA faded into the cherished halls of nostalgia. Fans (such as myself) prayed for a Total Annihilation 2, but it seemed the franchise fell into some sort of legal vortex. Gamers know this is rarely a good sign.
Well, good news: Supreme Commander is TA2, only they couldn’t call it that. But any TA veteran who fires up SupCom will instantly recognize the distinct family traits. There are a ton of changes of course – better graphics, slicker interface, solid storyline … all the improvements you’d expect from 10 years of gaming evolution, and then some. The King has returned, and he doesn’t disappoint.
At its core, SupCom is pretty simple: build a base, churn out an army of bots and whack the opponent until his base is a smoldering pile of rubble. There are land, sea and air units, carefully balanced in the usual rock-paper-scissors fashion. The three factions have slightly different specs for their tanks, artillery etc. but the real difference doesn’t show up until you get to the experimental weapons at the highest tech level. Again, pretty standard for the genre.
But what really makes SupCom stand out is the depth and polish. For one thing, rather than rely on the “build new base, accomplish mission, move to new map and repeat” concept, SupCom wisely goes the route of simply expanding the map as you accomplish tasks, saving you the hassle of creating the same basic power plants/flak guns/sentry cannons again and again.
This also ties into the changes in strategy. While a massive land rush worked great for the first part of the map, you may find yourself suddenly faced with a new target on an island. Doh! Better shift to naval and air production quickly, before the opponent gets too much of a head start building his defenses.