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Thread: Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Francisco, CA

    Default Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

    *Hey guys, I just wrote this cuz I played Supreme Commander for the first time today and had some time to kill so instead of playing more, I decided to just write out my thoughts - if anybody wants to give me a job as a game reviewer or anything, I'd be more than happy to say "yes and thank you", but if not, all I hope is that it's not too bad..

    SUPREME COMMANDER a sweet game. It looks great when you run it on a high-end system, has complex gameplay mechanics, extensive micro and macro-management opportunities, incredible depth, lots of action and explosions, and an unrivalled map system that lets you control EVERYTHING.

    ..the catch is, assuming you can run the game smoothly, that it's a lot more complicated to play than some recent rts games. There's so much you have to do in the game that it requires what seems like micro management just to get your base up. I have to admit that I've been playing a lot of fps's and console games like gears of war, and that I've succumbed to the lure of fast-paced action gaming. That doesen't mean I can't appreciate the sophisticated RTS once in a while.. but then again, maybe it does. I've also playeda lot of DoW and CoH - games that have all but eliminated their resource systems in loo of more action-focused games.. so at least recently, I can't call myself a true strategy guy.
    I play for the action, the explosions, the satisfaction of completely destroying whoever it is I'm playing against. But what's the shame in that?

    The thing is, when it comes to Supreme Commander, there's plenty of action and mayhem to be had, but it comes at a slow trickle for most of the game. You have to build and build and build for what seems like hours in order to have a decent battle.. don't expect that little squad of tanks you can build early on to be able to last longer than fifteen seconds later on in your game.

    But anyways, what I should start by saying is that I haven't played a game in a long time where I actually had to mine for resources.. even though that sounds ridiculously easy (which it should be), it requires more effort than would be expected of the player than in say, Starcraft. In Starcraft, you selected your builder unit and right-clicked on the minerals or gas factory and it would collect the resource, return it to base, and repeat. In SupCom, you have to make sure that your engineers tread along a path that you have manually assigned it to follow and automatically collect the resources along that said path - sounds easy? well, your engineer will eventually collect all the resouces in the path and just follow the path around over and over, in spite of all the resouces to be had everywhere around it. You will then have to reassign another path, which occasionally the engineers will decide not to follow and just stop because they're tired. This shouldn't be a big problem though, especially for the rts gamer - who only needs to do this once every several minutes (a dozen clicks or so out of the hundreds of clicks a skilled player makes every single minute).

    This is just to get started building your base though, which at this point, does not exist.
    You have to gather your resouces, build multiple buildings and fend off attacks all while trying to amass a large enough army to destroy the other. This is very typical of rts games, but in this game, an army large enough to destroy the enemy can be the size of a real army - hundreds upon hundreds of units, each of which seems to take minutes (longer than you think) to build. When you finally amass those upgraded, tier-2 gunships that you think pwn everything in the face, you realize the enemy has shields over his entire base of anti-aircraft turrets, and by then your prized fleet is a smoldering piece of shiet (fleet and shiet rhyme.. sorta).. by then you have to counter with ground units which take a long time in their own right to build up a sufficient force, and even longer to get across the map.. at this point, you learn that you can transport your units across the map to fight on the front lines in pairs, sets of eight, or some other small number - it's all very epic, but it is, needless to say, quite frustrating and tedious to micro-manage your hundreds of units onto 80 or so transports. This is where you suddenly feel like you're trying to organize an entire war by yourself (in effect you are, but it is very, very hard). It's not until you realize that your transports' pilots are capable of shuttling back and forth between landing and pickup zones and doing all the afforementioned micro on their own, that you realize how silly you were doing that. You just learned something new, and it's so very very cool! Nowhere in the manual or in the tutorials does the game tell you how to do this - you figure it out on your own (or with the help of others) and it makes you realize that this game doesn't suck after all!

    In my four hours of playing this game, I only learned how to do this one thing - how to transport my units effectively, yet it has been the most satisfying gaming moment I have had in a very long while. No longer was I forced to wait for units to trudge across the battlefield and stage for half an hour; I staged my units within minutes, and coordinated them for a successful three-pronged attack that saved my units and obliterated the computer's. It was amazing.

    This leads us back to the beginning - this game is really complicated - it has so much to it that you must learn from trial and error, and will probably cause more than a few frustration-induced headaches and cursings, but if you really put yourself into this game, it'll reward you many fold. When you first play this game, you'll probably fail repeatedly, and you'll try to develop new strategies - kind of like what commanders have to do in real life. But when you finally figure out what you've got to do and the effort and thought you have to put into coordinating a massive army and a successful attack, you really feel like you've accomplished something. This is a game that really makes you the Supreme Commander.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Minnesota, United States

    Default Re: Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

    Micromanagement? Hardly... In fact, none. The game is almost 100% macromanagement. You need to focus on how to build your base, produce units, and increase your tech level while balancing this with resource acquisitions. Once you've got the units, you pretty much just send them and be done with it.

    This is in contrast to a micromanagement-heavy RTS, such as Warcraft III, Company of Heroes, or a Total War game. In these games, micromanagement of unit action is the focus and the key to victory. This generally revolves around hotkeys and knowledge of specific unit strengths in a given scenario.

    As far as strategic value goes, both styles and everything in between work. A tactics-focused game is just as meaningful as a strategy-focused game. Both are also quite fun, but they can appeal to different types of gamers. The lazy, slow, laid-back, "turtle" gamers who prefer to manage a base and build a huge army tend to appreciate the latter. Most RTS games do not cater to this type of player, so Supreme Commander is somewhat of a coup in the genre.

    Back in the 90s, Total Annihilation and Starcraft came out, within about a year of each other. Both were immensely popular and by all accounts are the two most important (or the two greatest, if you will) RTS games of all time. Starcraft won, becoming the most popular RTS to date, and all of the successful games that followed were based on improving the Starcraft model.

    Supreme Commander is a very different game, but it can be very satisfying. Building up a huge army of ridiculous units and high-tech weapons and watching them go at it is very enjoyable, especially on a high-end system. That said, it's equally satisfying to send a few squads of Army Rangers around various cover to assault a Nazi position, or to flank some pesky phalanx with your cavalry while your melee infantry handles them from the front.

    Regarding transports -- indeed, SupCom's user interface is not very intuitive regarding this and several other features. But once you get used to the interface and learn how to do everything, you'll discover that there's next to no micromanagement to be done. It gets to be really fun, and the game is certainly deserving of being called the spiritual sequel to Total Annihilation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Francisco, CA

    Default Re: Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

    I got ahead of myself by using too much rts jargon that I forgot the meanings of.. so sorry for that. What I meant to say was that in essence you start off each battle with a single commander unit doing very few actions in the early game - you slowly build unit by unit and do your best to use those units as efficiently as possible. Compared to the latter game, the initial game is centered on directing individual or at least very small groups of units to do specific actions (as opposed to sending those 50 tanks, 50 anti-air, and 200 other units at the enemy). Thus, you probably feel like you're doing a lot of gruntwork each time you start Supreme Commander.
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    OS: Vista Ultimate 32bit

  4. #4

    Default Re: Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

    Yawg beat me to it...very little micro management in this game..although it's fun.
    I'd give it a solid 7.5, maybe an 8 if I'm in a good mood. Graphics are good, but nothing ground breaking(even Rome TW which came out a few years back has grass flowing in the wind when zoomed).
    What would have pleased me would be able to control (at least the experimental units) in a first person mode...This was done in a game called "Machines" (maybe 8-10 years ago) where you could control everything in first person, even the engineers. This added a whole new level of fun and strategy to the game.

    The story games were too short IMO, even though the maps keep expanding...once you have enough energy/mass surplus you can simply keep wiping everything out with ongoing production of units(which can be sped up by adding engineers to the factories in "help" mode, in case you didn't know).

    I've found that simply fortifying your main base well enough, you can simply cart a few engineers around with a transport, build a few shields, air/ground turrets in strategic locations and simply pound away with a strategic missile launcher or artillary until your enemy’s base is defenseless enough to wipe out with an upgraded commander.

    I used to send fleets of ships to bombard the bases(after taking out their naval factories) but have found the strategy above to work better...due to the ever expanding maps..the "mini bases" can make for very useful domination of the newly revealed area at times.

    I give it high marks for it's fun factor, larger scale battles and the small things which set it apart from other RTS games.

    The lows are for it's so-so graphics(zoomed in detail wise) and lack of the open ended storyline I was hoping for. Granted you can loose the war in a level..but it counts as a loss which must be replayed to continue the story. The "Epic battles on multiple fronts" comment (on the package I believe) lead me to believe this was a game that would have simultaneous, inter-galactic battle fronts....getting one base/battle going on one area of one planet...possibly moving to a different area of the same planet if needed....zooming out to the galactic scale to defend/plan an invasion on an entirely different planet in a different system....similar to what I've seen in the "SPORE" videos.

    Supreme commander, IMO, is a good game worthy of recommendation...but it does not deserve the 9+, "must have", scores I've seen on review sites.

    I suppose the software developers have not kept pace to my own, personal expectations of where I feel games "should be". Hopefully SPORE will not be another game added to the list of "fun, but not up to the hype" ST Legacy.

    Last edited by matm347; 05-08-2007 at 06:23 AM.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Down under - all the way under.

    Default Re: Supreme Commander.. crazy? i think so

    Being an FPS player, it was only recently that I player my first RTS - Sumpream Commander.

    Yeah, lots to learn, but I really enjoyed it, and will get it and player it.

    I just got started and it felts a little overwhelming at first, but as I learn to product the right equipment and fighting units, and then the battles started - I gain a new respect of RTS players.

    I won't give up FPS, but I will definately spend some time on SC.


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