Hot Keys: Supreme Commander 2

Posted by RetroVirus (1458 posts) -

Well, it’s that time of the week again. This week, it’s all about the zoom key with Supreme Commander 2.

Supreme Commander 2 is a game that I very much want to like, but never quite reached that point. It adheres strictly to RTS convention by having the player build up a base with tons of units, and then attack-move to go kill the opponent. Except that you’re opponent is on the other end of this insanely long map that can take anywhere from 5-10 real life minutes to traverse. See, the gimmick of the series is a focus on massive battles. Unit caps are set at 500, and you can control myriad air, land, and sea forces against your opponent as you both attempt to devise strategies to flank and decimate units, from a viewing angle like that of God himself. You also have a commander robot that can build and perform tons of combat roles through different upgrade paths. The game ends when your commander goes critical, turning it into a nuke. There are upgrades that will allow you to safely detach the head and have it turn into another unit, leaving your enemies to fry while you regroup.

ROBOT DINOSAURS THAT BREATH FIRE.

There are also Experimental Units, which take tons of time to research and build. Consequently, they are the most powerful units in the game. The developers over at Gas Powered Games also took the experimental moniker and applied it to the unit designs themselves, which are crazy and awesome. There’s fire-breathing dinosaur robots, submarines that have crazy Kraken tentacles, tanks that are made of other tanks, and a cannon that shoots units across the battlefield. It’s completely nuts, and gives the game a unique feel to using them. I really enjoy the physical design of these units, and I wish they had been able to transfer that to the regular units as well.

An there’s one of my first problems: for as awesome as the Experimental Units are, getting them out takes a long time, and very specific tech paths to get to each. It’s understandable, because you can’t just have a Cybrannosaurus Rex come out in the first 15 minutes. Yet using the actual normal units, the ones that are supposed to be augmented by the Experimental Units, are just boring and sometimes difficult to use. There is something like 5 different types, including artillery, support, and attack and so on, but the actual effect these roles seem to have is minimal. I don’t feel the need to pick specific unit combos because they are just so disposable. It really feels like you are always waiting on meters to fill up so you can pump out another 3 measly units.

IT'S A TANK MADE OUT OF TANKS, YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!

Also, building the units is a chore in and of itself. The buildings from which they come from are enormous, and take up a ton of space, but only make one unit at a time. I feel that if units came out in squads of 5 or 10, it would speed up the game so much, and trying to differentiate between individual buildings can be tricky. The AI pathfinding is nothing to write home about, and for a game that relies so heavily on sending hordes of units, it would be nice to have them all get there at the same time. I’ve had tons of problems with units just getting stuck on walls, and that should not happen in this kind of game!

It really should be like this all the time. If you're lucky, it takes about 30 minutes.

Overall the game just feels really slow. It kind of fits with the theme of commanding these insanely huge armies, but ultimately is a barrier to entry. Why waste 45 minutes getting to a point where it becomes fun, when I can play something like Dawn of War II or StarCraft and have an enjoyable 30 minutes? Also, why does this game have a unit cap? When the whole point is to build up huge forces, I don’t think I should be limited. It was fun for an afternoon, but that’s really all I wanted to play, despite my love for the Experimental Units and the Commander idea.

The campaign is also pretty weak, with very pretty but meaningless cutscenes about a war that brings these formerly peaceful factions against each other’s throats. Something that would have been cool would be to extend to some global domination game like MAG, but with the three different factions duking it out over the planet. Oh well, at least there’s a giant dinosaur robot in it.

#1 Posted by RetroVirus (1458 posts) -

Well, it’s that time of the week again. This week, it’s all about the zoom key with Supreme Commander 2.

Supreme Commander 2 is a game that I very much want to like, but never quite reached that point. It adheres strictly to RTS convention by having the player build up a base with tons of units, and then attack-move to go kill the opponent. Except that you’re opponent is on the other end of this insanely long map that can take anywhere from 5-10 real life minutes to traverse. See, the gimmick of the series is a focus on massive battles. Unit caps are set at 500, and you can control myriad air, land, and sea forces against your opponent as you both attempt to devise strategies to flank and decimate units, from a viewing angle like that of God himself. You also have a commander robot that can build and perform tons of combat roles through different upgrade paths. The game ends when your commander goes critical, turning it into a nuke. There are upgrades that will allow you to safely detach the head and have it turn into another unit, leaving your enemies to fry while you regroup.

ROBOT DINOSAURS THAT BREATH FIRE.

There are also Experimental Units, which take tons of time to research and build. Consequently, they are the most powerful units in the game. The developers over at Gas Powered Games also took the experimental moniker and applied it to the unit designs themselves, which are crazy and awesome. There’s fire-breathing dinosaur robots, submarines that have crazy Kraken tentacles, tanks that are made of other tanks, and a cannon that shoots units across the battlefield. It’s completely nuts, and gives the game a unique feel to using them. I really enjoy the physical design of these units, and I wish they had been able to transfer that to the regular units as well.

An there’s one of my first problems: for as awesome as the Experimental Units are, getting them out takes a long time, and very specific tech paths to get to each. It’s understandable, because you can’t just have a Cybrannosaurus Rex come out in the first 15 minutes. Yet using the actual normal units, the ones that are supposed to be augmented by the Experimental Units, are just boring and sometimes difficult to use. There is something like 5 different types, including artillery, support, and attack and so on, but the actual effect these roles seem to have is minimal. I don’t feel the need to pick specific unit combos because they are just so disposable. It really feels like you are always waiting on meters to fill up so you can pump out another 3 measly units.

IT'S A TANK MADE OUT OF TANKS, YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!

Also, building the units is a chore in and of itself. The buildings from which they come from are enormous, and take up a ton of space, but only make one unit at a time. I feel that if units came out in squads of 5 or 10, it would speed up the game so much, and trying to differentiate between individual buildings can be tricky. The AI pathfinding is nothing to write home about, and for a game that relies so heavily on sending hordes of units, it would be nice to have them all get there at the same time. I’ve had tons of problems with units just getting stuck on walls, and that should not happen in this kind of game!

It really should be like this all the time. If you're lucky, it takes about 30 minutes.

Overall the game just feels really slow. It kind of fits with the theme of commanding these insanely huge armies, but ultimately is a barrier to entry. Why waste 45 minutes getting to a point where it becomes fun, when I can play something like Dawn of War II or StarCraft and have an enjoyable 30 minutes? Also, why does this game have a unit cap? When the whole point is to build up huge forces, I don’t think I should be limited. It was fun for an afternoon, but that’s really all I wanted to play, despite my love for the Experimental Units and the Commander idea.

The campaign is also pretty weak, with very pretty but meaningless cutscenes about a war that brings these formerly peaceful factions against each other’s throats. Something that would have been cool would be to extend to some global domination game like MAG, but with the three different factions duking it out over the planet. Oh well, at least there’s a giant dinosaur robot in it.

#2 Posted by gpbmike (864 posts) -

I tend to the lean the other direction. I have a hard time playing StarCraft because it's too fast for me. I enjoyed the slower pace of SupCom. The unit cap bummed me out as well, but I learned to just start throwing units around like they were nothing so it wasn't that big of a deal.

You mentioned problems getting units out. StarCraft is the same. One unit (or two with a reactor) per building. The solution is the same as well. Lots of buildings.

Something I enjoyed about this series that you didn't mention was the automation. You can give your buildings a pattern of units to build and set it to repeat. As long as your resources are sufficient, those buildings will keep the units coming.

Also, I'm pretty sure you can set up timed attacks so different groups will hit one point at the same time.

One last thing, the AI pathing in SupCom 2 was wayyy better than SupCom 1. They even had a trailer about it.

Anyway, keep the blogs coming. Big fan of RTS. Eager to see what you'll write about next.

#3 Posted by RetroVirus (1458 posts) -

@gpbmike: Wow, thanks for the reply! I actually did not know about that automation feature, but that sounds like it would alleviate my issues with unit production. I'm the kind of player that likes to queue up a lot of units and let them flow out, and that sounds right up my alley. The timed unit attacks would be nice, especially when trying to coordinate air attacks.

My stance on the building was that it seemed like the size of the factories were oddly disproportionate the the size of the units being built, and that I was wasting space (but to be honest there's a ton of open land on the maps) building them. As for the pathfinding, that video is really interesting. I never realized how they smoothly integrate and pass through units. You've convinced me to go back and give SupCom 2 another try, especially with that automation feature. I'm glad you enjoy the blogs, and I'll keep it up!

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