Supreme Commander 2

A Monkeylord has steamrollered the front lines, Titan bots are overwhelming your point defence, and a Sky King Extreme just pelted your Commander so hard he had to eject his own head to survive. And your secret weapon, an automoton the size of the Empire State, is only 70% complete. In any other RTS, game over. In Supreme Commander 2...

“Activate.... the Universal Colossus!”
“But sir!” your robot engineers would say if they could, “it’s not ready yet! It’s never been field tested! There could be catastrophic consequences we-”
“SILENCE! You have your orders!”

It stirs. It turns. It stomps. Lasers shoot from its eyes, obliterating whole lines of enemy units. Graviton generators in its hands suck tanks into the air and crumple them. It goes toe to toe with the damaged Monkeylord and smashes it into a burnt-out wreck. And then, it stops. It’s crashed.

SupCom was good at two things: massive experimental units, and making you feel inadequate about your PC. SupCom2 is no good at the latter: it runs faster on a given PC than its three-year-old predecessor (as for Xbox 360, well we haven't seen how it runs yet). But it’s gone nuts with the former: it has 27 Experimentals to the first game’s 9, and you can Half-Bake one before it’s complete. The result is fully functional, but every ten seconds it runs the risk of complete and permanent failure.

There’s often something you want in a hurry. SupCom creator Chris Taylor showed us the mobile Bomb Bouncer, a device that projects an umbrella over your other units and absorbs everything aerial units try to rain on them. It can turn that stored energy into an energy blast to take down enemy planes.

Then there is the Loyalty Cannon. It fires loyalty. It looks like one of Supreme Commander’s characteristic stadium-sized artillery pieces, but it zaps nearby enemy units with a beam that rewires them to fight for you. We watched it neutralise a whole incoming army, turning the front lines against the rear, then turning the rear lines too.

Unlocking Experimentals means spending research points to climb one of four tech trees: Land, Air, Sea, or Structures. Other options in these trees upgrade certain classes of your existing units. To unlock the hilarious Unit Cannon – a structure that fires the bots it builds at the enemy – you need a few of the upgrades in the Structure tree.

It’s no longer a case of "What’s the best thing I can afford?," but "What do I fancy specialising in?" With three different factions, each with five different tech trees and nine unique Experimentals, every commander’s answer will be different. Watching those answers wreck each other is going to be fun.

Jan 27, 2010