Most helpful critical review
381 of 447 people found the following review helpful
Do not buy this if you are a Supreme Commander fan
on March 6, 2010
WARNING: It has come to my attention that there is an organized campaign to manipulate the review scores for this game, with posters on the official forums attempting to recruit others to create multiple accounts and write 5 star reviews. Obviously it hasn't been very effective, but be aware that the review scores have been slightly increased by this shilling. I highly encourage you to download the demo and find out the truth.
Supreme Commander 2 is the latest game in a disturbing trend gripping the gaming industry: more and more developers simply have no regard at all for the fans who put them on the map. If you enjoyed Supreme Commander and Forged Alliance for everything that made them unique, DO NOT BUY THIS GAME. It is complete and utter rubbish, in essence a parody of the masterful original. The game has been dumbed down to be almost unrecognizable, although some of the good elements like extreme map zooming and a good unit patrol interface remain. Those who prefer more micro-heavy games like Command and Conquer may still get some enjoyment out of it, but if you want a small scale RTS there are many of them better than Supreme Commander 2.
The problems start with Tiers. In Supreme Commander 1, there were three tiers of units, plus experimental units. The first tier units were like little ants, useful for little other than early game harassment but incapable of dealing any real damage. Second tier units were capable fighters, and third tier units were pretty powerful. By the end of the game, you could have hundreds upon hundreds of units out, yet it was still possible for a single experimental unit to slice through your entire army and kill your commander. It was thrilling to devote your entire economy for a protracted period of time just to get that experimental out, and you would cheer for it as it completely shifted the battle. Supreme Commander 2 throws all of that away. The units now fall roughly along the lines of the dozens of C&C style RTS games, with experimental units being roughly as powerful as Mammoth Tanks. I saw an experimental unit get taken down by five gunships. FIVE. Now there is no longer any strategy in deciding what to build. Whereas before, you would need to make hard choices about whether to devote significant resources to tech up and devote a large portion of your economy to build single units or structures, now you can pump out experimental units in under 5 minutes from the start of a game. In other words, Supreme Commander 2 is now just your standard RTS, but with units far more generic than most. The macro has been scaled back dramatically, yet most units are still one-dimensional so there is little need for micromanagement since you won't affect the outcome of a skirmish.
As for resources, the great system where you used mass to build things and power to, well, power them is gone. Structures and units no longer use up power by being in play. Instead, power is just like mass. When you build something, power is deducted from your cache and that's it. In other words, you can build shield generators and artillery all over the place with no consequence since it costs nothing to support them. This means even more incentive to turtle since a surgical strike on any one area of your base isn't going to damage anything you can't easily replace. In Supreme Commander 1, it was at least a possibility that your generators would be taken out, rendering you defenseless as the shields and turrets shut down. To make matters worse, the old system where resources were deducted as units and structures were built is GONE. Now resources are deducted immediately when you queue up unit production or structures, which means you can no longer queue up a massive base and then let an engineer do his thing. This was one of the two or three most important aspects of Supreme Commander and it is completely ruined.
Now there is a third resource: research. Points are produced by buildings and can be spent in one of five overly convoluted tech trees. This is a terrible system that replaces the tiers from Supreme Commander. Unlocking the best units is too easy, and the pace of the game is killed by having to constantly open up the tech menu to unlock things. It also discourages adapting your tactics to the situation because there are so many minor upgrades that you'll need to choose between specializing in ground, air,or naval units since it will take a very long match to power up all three. It was just flat out stupid to have a menu-based system instead of tying upgrades to buildings. Some games like Battle for Middle Earth make it work because they don't have as many upgrades and don't require constantly accessing the menu, but it doesn't work here.
Normally a sequel is supposed to be bigger, badder, and better in every way. Supreme Commander 2 takes a step back in almost every aspect. The graphics are scaled back. There are far less unit types and the unit cap is far lower. The maps are much smaller. They aren't small just in comparison to the original, they're actually some of the smallest maps I've seen in a RTS. The campaign is very short, with 18 missions that take around 10-30 minutes each. Normally a RTS with such a low mission number will at least have 1-2 hour missions. And as for the much vaunted "story" and "cinematic experience" that was supposedly added? It's terrible. The CG is just video of the normal in-game assets, so it actually looks worse than the gameplay if you have a decent computer. The characters are insufferable, the dialogue terrible, and the story paper thin. The only positive thing I can say is that the art design of the maps is improved.
There is very little to recommend Supreme Commander 2. If you like the original, you're better off playing that, and if you didn't, there are many better RTS to spend your time and money on. To add insult to injury though, once you own this terrible game, you OWN it. That's right, Steam is required for this game, and it will be tied to your account forever. I look at this as a shrewd and cynical move by a developer that knows the market would otherwise be flooded with used copies because most who buy this game will not want to keep it.
Addendum: If I could revise my score down to 0 stars after what I've seen of the online play after writing the original review, I would. Matches end one of two ways almost every time. In a 2 v 2 or larger match, multiple players will rush with their commanders at the start and kill one of the enemy commanders 2 on 1. Then repeat with the other players. Total match time is around 5 minutes. Otherwise, the match will end in a swarm of gunships due to the weak anti air options. There is no reason to build anything else because there aren't any units or structures in the game that, for the same resource cost, can kill a swarm of gunships faster than they can kill a commander. Also, to clarify something I said earlier, in SINGLE player it is very easy to unlock the best experimental units and pump them out in mass quantities. In online play however, they barely play any role at all. Anyone who tries to build them will probably lose because they are not as effective as normal units, dollar for dollar. There is no point in trying different strategies. Online play is ruled by basic units and whoever has the bigger blob of them wins.