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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Game Preview 21:Supreme Commander

Publisher: THQ
Platform Available: PC
Release date: Q1 2007, to be released after Windows Vista

Chris Taylor, the guy behind Total Annihilation, is now involved in Supreme Commander, another real-time strategy (RTS) game of massive scale. Supreme Commander has been billed as the spiritual successor (or in other words, unofficial sequel) to Total Annihilation and you would expect Supreme Commander to work very much like Total Annihilation. If you are expecting that, there is great news. Supreme Commander has implemented most of the gameplay mechanics from Total Annihilation, but for players who like having new features, good news for you as well. New features include the ability to zoom in to any area on the map and spot the detailed models of the units, in addition to the ability to zoom out of the map, and before you know it, you would be looking at the overhead of the map. But first, let’s touch on the basics of the game first. You can choose from 3 factions, namely the United Earth Federation (UEF), the Cybran (the baddies in this game), and the Aeon. There would be 3 campaigns, one for each faction. Generally, there would be 3 tiers of units for you to build. The higher the tier, the more powerful the units, but you start the game with only your Commander unit. From there, you would want to start building your base as quickly as possible. 2 resources are need in this game for the building processes: Energy and Mass. Energy can be easily obtained by building energy plants within your base, but for mass to be obtained, it may be harder. Mass extractors can only be built on specific points, 4 of which would be available around the player’s starting site. Vital buildings in your base, like the energy units mentioned above, can be protected by an energy shield, so the way you position your buildings is important. However, when the building next to the other one explodes, there is bound to be some damage radius. Like in Total Annihilation, commands can be queued. Once the engineer (the builder in this game) has done its work, an icon would appear at the top of the screen to signal to you that there is an unused engineer and that you can give it more orders. This addition is sweet, especially in the middle of a battle, when you are so focused on your units fighting the opposition’s that you tend to forget about your engineers. Your engineers have other uses besides building structures. For example, it can salvage metals of wrecks to increase the mass output. Likewise, you can set up a patrol path, which they would follow and salvage any wreck that appears along the way. When you have a game of such epic scale, you would want the unit limit to be high, and that is where Supreme Commander fulfils your wishes. In fact, the game encourages you to build more, be it land, air or naval units. To aid you in your expansion of your base, Supreme Commander has an assortment of units for you to select. Tier one units are relatively light in armor and are easily destroyed by tier one defenses. Tier two units include tanks, bots with heavier armor, and so on. Tier three units are the most fearsome ones. You have nukes launchers, units that can fire across the entire map (you have to keep your eyes out for these) among many others. Each faction would also have their own experimental units – much like the Krogoth of the Core side in Total Annihilation. These units can wipe out multiple units at once and take down an entire base within a few minutes, but they take an extremely long time to build, and may also be a drain on your precious resources. The weapons these experimental units possess are so strong that it can plot the demise of the commander unit within seconds. But your commander unit is not without strong defenses too. Its weapons are (fortunately) upgradeable and it is an ideal mobile defense in the early stages of the game. Given the complexity of the game, expect each match to last hours – if your opponents are stubborn. As far as multiplayer goes, up to 8 players can be supported on a map, making for some chaotic battles. A mission and map editor would also be available, as well as downloadable content and instant replays. According to the interview with Chris Taylor by Gamespot, a demo would likely to be out near the release date – about January or early February. The game would be tweaked to take full advantage of the capabilities of Windows Vista, and so this only means one thing: You have to have a powerful computer to run this game.


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