Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Supreme Commander 2 is derided by fans of the series for the ways in which it differed from the original Supreme Commander, but I would never have got into the original massive-scale real-time strategy game if it wasn’t for this smaller, more accessible sequel.
SC2 throws out two key things from the original: one, the complicated economic model which allowed you to build larger units than you could currently afford; and two, the massive size of the maps. It also introduces a tech tree which gives you a faster route towards the series’ mammoth experimental units.
The result is a game in which carrying out your chosen strategy is much easier than the original. In Supreme Commander 1, you might decide you’re going to aim to build one of the experimental units, an enormous flying saucer. If you’re inexperienced, you might irrecoverably crash your economy in the process. If you’re experienced, you might simply find the game is over long before you manage it.
In Supreme Commander 2 meanwhile, you can reliably decide “I’m going to get the building that’s basically just a big cannon which fires tanks at the enemy” and then do it. Where a skirmish match of Supreme Commander might take 90 minutes or more, Supreme Commander 2 games are reliably over in 45. That moves it into lunchbreak territory. It’s a game that maintains many of the thrills and bombast of the original even if it loses a little of the tactical nous in the process.
Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is still my favourite entry in the series (and my favourite real-time strategy game ever), but Supreme Commander 2 is a fine companion.