Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander... yeah... I feel like I missed the band wagon completely on this title, but I'm happy to say that I found it now.

It seems the game has evolved a lot over time, having read the fan site wiki about the game. I have however started off with the original title, referred to as "Vanilla SupCom".

This version has a different veteran mode (a way for your units to be powered up by scoring kills) than later titles, which is apparently harder to achieve [meaning it is a more worthwhile thing IMO, an actual challenge].

The AI is good, I'm a bit of a sucker for fleet/ship battles in RTS games, as such I'm really happy about the variety of units, ocean going, ground based and flying in this game.

It really seems like a rich world, and there are a lot of varieties to strategy in the game, both winning and loosing.

I've so far only played skirmish games, I'm trying to get to grips with everything. Especially the view camera.

The game has vastly higher numbers of positive points to negative, so far, positives are the variety, the challenge of the AI, the resource balancing. They're really intuitive to get to grips with, but with such great swathes of head room so you can experiment with strategy.

The negatives so far are based around my styles of play, first off there's a bug in the mouse... if you have the game full screen on one screen, and say a movie playing full screen on the other (if you're lucky enough to have more than one monitor that is) then as you move the mouse cursor to the edges of the screen; which would scroll the map around; it works find where you physically end your desktop, but that one side which is lined up to the second monitor... the game just lets you mouse float off in that direction and you can't scroll in that direction easily.

This was such a pain in the arse that I ended up playing movies on my laptop and setting my desktop not to extend on to my second monitor while playing (which really is a nod to hod nice this game is, I was willing to change my system settings just to continue to play).

Other bugs also revolve around the camera, I found the zooming out and in a bit strange at first, and the fact you can scroll the mini map in and out just as easily, though a great feature to include, was a big jarring. But once I got my head around it everything was fine.

The next problem was also related to my play style, I often only get a chance to play games late at night, or when my wife is in bed... this basically means on headphones or simply with my speakers off. The net result was I was no idea attacks off screen were going on.

Let me explain that a bit more clearly, there are three (or four - depending on your point of view) of technology in Supreme Commander, you have to upgrade your buildings through the game to get to the different technology levels. Anyway, at the lower technology levels (1 & 2) the attacks your units and buildings can carry out
are somewhat less powerful than attacks at the higher tiers. The higher tiers cause screen shake/earth shakes with their powerful attacks, so with the sound off you know that something is going on... but the lower ones, you're meant to hear a sound and know they're going on. I can't hear this sound.

This is something which begs the question, how would a hearing impaired person deal with this? I at least have managed to rig up some of my electronic wizardry to let me mix the PC and laptop and radio together to let me wear one pair of head phones while hearing multiple sound sources...

All in all though, minor niggles against a great game.

I can see the expansion sets out there for the original game, however, I'm tempted (having read about how they gimp the original) to skip them and go straight to Supreme Commander 2 later next month...

Anyway, this is the second in my RTS fest of 2010. I've not really covered it here, but I really got deeply back into the Total War Series. I've finally managed to conquer the whole world on the hardest AI settings in MTWII, so I've retired from that game (after originally hating it upon it's release - it's not my favourite in the series overall - with Rome Total War a close second).

And as for the rest of today, I'm now going to depart my place of work, and go watch England play Football... England v Solvenia.... "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori".

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