Reviewinated: The Other SC2

There are some robots. Just a couple.

My keyboard + Supreme Commander 2 = 1200-odd words on Eurogamer. Going to be a divisive game, this – even behind RPS closed doors, Quinns and I have furiously disagreed about it. But then, he hates most things and I hate everything else, so such argument is inevitable. Here’s a quote from the review, anyway. I know you like quotes.

StarCraft is like some rare breed of exquisite tropical fish which requires constant care and attention else it’ll perish, while SupCom 2’s more like an average moggy. It might be less of a talking point, but chuck some food in a bowl a couple of times a day and that’s about all it needs to show you love.

I really need to stop using cat analogies.


  1. Muzman says:

    I immediately finished that equation in my head as “My keyboard + Supreme Commander 2 = small crumbly bits of polymer all over my desk/need for a new keyboard; possibly mouse thrown against the wall”
    Guess these things aren’t quite that intense for everyone. Probably a good thing.

    edit: Oh yes, Link followed. Cheers.

  2. yatesc says:

    I thought this would be an article about the best SC2: Star Control 2. Alas. :\

    • Colthor says:

      There should be some regulatory body for game initialisms. Every time I saw MW2 I’d get excited for a second or two about the best Big Stompy Robot game, and then be disappointed when I remembered.

      As for SupCom2, I just can’t be bothered with the queue-penalising resource system. The old one was less work :(

    • KillahMate says:

      Hell yes. I still, for one fraction of a second, think they’re talking about Mechwarrior before I remember. Every time.

  3. Brumisator says:

    Nice review, but maybe too MP focused. the measly one paragraph about the SP part may be enought though.

    I played the demo and liked it, a lot. The story characters and storytelling are truly horribly underwhelming, but the game felt much more lively than it’s predecessor, especially the maps feel livelier, not just dull brown wastelands.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    So, the singleplayer is as bad as it looked from the trailers?

    No sale. Idiot publishers who focus on multiplayer and/or think Squenix have anything to contribute to society, begin blaming piracy for PC gaming dying now!

    • goodgimp says:

      Actually a big focus was put on the Campaign this time, at the *expense* of multiplayer… it’s just terrible writing ;)

    • Fumarole says:

      So, focus on multiplayer = idiot publisher now?

    • Mythar says:

      Terrible writing is an understatement.

  5. pkt-zer0 says:

    I’m missing the “Nothing compared to Starcraft 2!” tag.

  6. JKjoker says:

    “With no caps on mass and energy storage and more autonomous Engineers, resource management and maintenance demands a lot less of your attention.”

    that sounds awesome, if its true i think supremeC2 will be my favorite SC2, ive always thought that forcing the player to do repetitive things every match is stupid, the more time i can dedicate to strategy and planning the better

    the bit about how different strategies are viable sounds great as well, but im doubtful, ive seen that statement hundreds of times and some optimal build always appears killing any gameplay variation

    • Arathain says:

      Well… it’s good and bad. Not having to manage herds of engineers to get anything done in reasonable time- good. But the way the new resource system works makes it impractical to queue a big load of buildings and units up ahead of time so you can go off and focus on explosive biffing. They giveth micro, they taketh away.

      The ‘optimal build’ thing is always a threat. Include decent counters for tough units and allow you to figure out what your opponent is up to with good scouting and that can be largely mitigated. The original Starcraft doesn’t really have one optimal build, or it wouldn’t remain competitive.

    • JKjoker says:

      The original Starcraft had early game optimal builds and since matches tend to end quickly they play out the same most of the time, the only strategy decision was when/where to expand, the second one seems to follow the same idea

      i wish they would allow the player to set up macros for base building (or allow the use of predesigned startup bases with a set resources cost) and tweaking unit AI with ffxii gambits/dragon age tactics, it would put less emphasis in micromanagement, repetitive actions and clicks per minute and free up time for the more interesting gameplay

  7. Rich says:

    “Supreme Commander 2, alas, is a pretty awful single-player game. Granted, Supreme Commander and Forged Alliance came up pretty short in that regard too, but this is a whole new echelon of suffering. The missions are stilted affairs, cruelly built around denying you access to all the tech tree’s wonders, and bookended with irredeemably grating and lifeless cut-scenes.”

    Oh bum.

  8. Skusey says:

    Nice review, I’m looking forward to this now. The multiplayer anyway, I’m fed up of singleplayer games having Nolan North voice-acting in them.

    • Moni says:

      Oh yes, it’s getting pretty tired.

      I don’t know who to blame though. Mr North for his single easy-going charm pony, or the developers for writing their characters as “easy-going, charming”, “Oh let’s just cast that Nolan North guy”.

  9. Arathain says:

    Come now, RPS. If you’re going to disagree vehemently, you could at least do it on site, where can all laugh… I mean, learn from it.

    In all seriousness, sometimes we learn the most about specific games from the lot of you discussing them in your informal chat style. If Quinns is reviewing for someone I’d love to see you and he in a discussion once his review is out.

    • PixelCody says:

      I second this, FIGHT!!!

      I mean, discuss!!!! Is Quinns coming at the game from a SC1-lover’s perspective? Sounds like this game would have been better received if it were a new IP.

      Seriously torn over buying this one. I’d love to get online with another RTS before the community dissipates but my wallet is busy imploding at the sight of the “still to play”, “still to buy” and “must preorder” lists on my desk. Why did strategy games have to make their resurgence when we were already in a golden age of gaming?

  10. Subject 706 says:

    Shit singleplayer and multiplayer that has removed much of what made its predecessor unique? Can’t see this game becoming a great success really.

    So much for that GPG statement that they were ‘focusing on increasing the narrative of the campaign’. As a singleplayer-loving RTS-fan, color me disappointed.

  11. Lanster27 says:

    Exactly what I had in mind. Supcom and Supcom 2 are pretty different games.

  12. Walsh says:

    The demo was terrible. You can see the concessions they made to get it to work on a console, aircraft THAT HOVER, lower polycount vehicles including experimentals, super small maps (compared to previous TA/SupCom), simplistic economy. And for some reason aside from the technicolor light show fireworks, the game looks worse on high than the previous SupCom.

    Also the experiementals in the demo just sat there while my battleships annihilated them in a split second each. Come on.

    • Walsh says:

      Also the worst dialog on earth. I feel like badly translated english games have better dialog than this game.

    • goodgimp says:

      Oh come on, you mean to tell me “I eat guys like you for breakfast” followed by the witty retort “I guess that explains the foot in your mouth!” isn’t splendid writing?

      And yes, that was sarcasm there.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      To be fair, those were the first couple of levels from the campaign, so it’s not surprising they were small. If they don’t have huge skirmish maps, then I’ll be disappointed. I quite enjoyed the demo, but not enough to guarantee a purchase. The tech tree approach appeals, certainly. But the queuing issue could be a dealbreaker. In a game with tons of units, I hate realising I’ve got idle factories too late.

  13. Isometric says:

    We like quotes!

  14. sdzvvwv says:

    “The OTHER sc2” made me lol.
    Great pun, there. You’re title-jokes are really hit and miss, but this one hit the spot real good.

    I played the SC2 demo, and was really unimpressed. What also makes me absolutely frightened is Square Enix produced it… And there have been dev videos saying “we really want to bring an amazing story in SC2″… Yea, right. In an RTS, really? Really? Oh silly devs, when will they learn!

    In b4 “you entered the CAPTCHA wrong. Please go back and try again” even though I entered it right.

  15. Jad says:

    I really liked the line “If, though, it’s about having an ad-hoc brainwave and finding a way to make it work”, because that’s exactly the way I like to play RTSes. For many, these games are a series of systems that should be learned, and when learned, employed in the most efficient fashion. To me, these kinds of games are like giant toyboxes, with toys that are actually giant explodey robots. If I don’t want to play with the airplane toys this play session, but with the missile subs and the nukes, a game that doesn’t punish me severely for that oversight is one I am happy about. I can understand why many who love the genre would have problems with the previous statement, and that’s fine. Just stating my preference. But that’s why I won’t play multiplayer RTS, and I don’t actually want “good” AI in singleplayer.

    Anyway, often it is the singleplayer campaign that fulfills “here’s some toys to play with” desire, so it is unfortunate to hear that the campaign isn’t very good. I was excited when I heard Chris Taylor say he was spending so much energy on the storyline and the campaign.

    A year or two from now, when the game is $5 or under, maybe I’ll pick it up to play a couple of skirmishes against the AI on easy mode.

    • bill says:

      me too. Frankly the random brainwave thing makes it sound much more interesting than slogging away at starcraft 2. unfortunately I also love singleplayer, so it’s half great, and half useless for me.

      My single favorite RTS moment was figuring out a way to use a single unit to win a mission in Hostile Waters by bypassing all the defences. I’m sure that’s not how i was supposed to do that mission…

  16. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I was singularly underwhelmed by the demo: the Mighty Kraken appeared to be broken and just froze in the water while my subs hammered it into shrapnel. Seriously: It didn’t move until it died, and then only to explode and sink. Hopefully it was deliberately

    The path finding is fixed? My arse it is. I ordered my commander to a distant waypoint and sloped off to oversee some arse kicking elsewhere and when I popped back over to where he was supposed to be he wasn’t there. He was about 10 metres away from where he was when I ordered him to move, trying to walk through a building. Apparently the path finding is still confused by the introduction of buildings, which in a game where part of your job is to introduce buildings is not a good thing.

    The SC1000 gunship was fun though. It makes lots of things go bang in a suitably enjoyable fashion.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      I’m guessing the Kraken can’t actually attack other subs? When I accidentally ordered my surface ships near it, it wreaked a dreadful slaughter on them before I managed a hasty recall.

  17. Dominic White says:

    This review is actually the first positive thing I’ve heard about the game. Everywhere else, people are acting like Supcom 2 is the worst thing since anthrax flavoured ice-cream.

    Are people just getting angrier? As I get older, I find myself wanting to be *less* grumpy and spiteful, not more.

  18. Severian says:

    So in the interest of avoiding the phrase “dumbed down”, would it be accurate to say that SC2 is more accessible?

    Like some other commenters above, i enjoy single-player RTS’s as giganto-cool toyboxes that make big explosions. The first SC kinda scared me away since it sounded pretty hardcore (is it still ok to use the word “hardcore”?). This seems like something I could possibly be convinced to purchase if I had a few pints in me and it showed up as a weekend deal.

  19. Severian says:

    Also – can someone give this RTS weakling (i.e. me) a brief summary of how/why the SC2 queue system is different from other RTS’s? I seem to recall in one of the previous RPS posts (on RTS gaming in general, I believe) there was discussion over the different ways in which research & queues work in these games, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

    • nichevo says:

      I hope I can explain. I’ll simplify things a bit but the gist is accurate:

      Most RTS games work like simple shopping. You have money, you pay that money to get something (or put something in a queue). If you don’t have the money at the time, too bad, you can’t get it.

      SupCom1 is more like managing a power grid. Power goes into the grid and power goes out. While factories are operating they drain power to make units. You need to make sure you don’t get brownouts. On the otherhand, because storage of surplus is generally quite limited, you want to spend what you get otherwise it goes to waste.

      As for queueing in SupCom1 there are no limits. You can set up huge queues. You can set up queues that repeat (i.e. infinite queues). You can set up “slave” factories which assist a “master” by taking items from its queue.

      From what I’ve read, SupCom2 will follow the “simple shopping” method. I’ve read that you can have large surpluses, and that you can’t queue a unit that you can’t afford there and then. I worry that this means the smarts behind looping queues and assisting factories are lost, but I haven’t seen any proof either way of this.

    • Severian says:

      Interesting! Thanks, mate.

  20. chrisd says:

    Severian, as I’ve only just learned it’s a “pay in order to add it to the build queue” model, which is the same as many RTS games, but different from the previous SupCom games, wherein you paid in a stream while the unit/building was assembled. The upside is that you can’t overspend and then stall ALL your buildings, but the downside is that you can’t queue a bunch of stuff, knowing that when you get around to the build time you’ll be able to afford it. I like the new way, as I’m utterly new to RTS games and haven’t the foggiest idea of what I’m doing, but I can clearly see why experienced players like the original method.

  21. Tim Ward says:

    The funnest thing about the demo was the hilariously shit animated talking heads. What is this guys, 1997?

    Oh, and the fact that they’d removed everything that made SupCom unquie and interesting in order to be more like the competition (read: Starcraft 2) and produced one of the most singularly uninteresting RTS games I’ve played in ages was pretty funny as well.

  22. Kakrafoon says:

    I understand that SupCom has a place in RTS gaming, but I’m not a fan. Its geometric chill scares me away. I actually like my units to respond to my orders with more than a feeble electronic beep and whirr.

  23. Thants says:

    The demo was really pretty terrible. It was a more polished, better optimized version of the game that took out all the things that made the first one special and interesting. It’s like making Deus Ex as a corridor shooter, or Portal without GLaDOS.