Supreme Commander 2
|Developer(s)||Gas Powered Games
Virtual Programming (Mac)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
Supreme Commander 2 is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game developed by Gas Powered Games and published by Square Enix. It is a sequel to Supreme Commander. A PC-only demo was initially released via Steam on 24 February 2010, with the full game released on 2 March 2010.
A Mac OS X version of Supreme Commander 2 was announced by Mac games publisher Virtual Programming in May 2010. They released the Mac OS X version of the game on 24 September 2010 and released the Infinite War Battle Pack for Mac OS X in January 2011.
The story starts with the newly elected President's assassination, causing the breakup of the coalition formed during the expansion of the first game.
The first campaign (dedicated to the UEF or United Earth Federation) follows Dominic Maddox, a UEF officer who is married to an Illuminate. Maddox fights off Cybran until the UEF Commander he serves declared that all Illuminate are terrorists and orders him on a mission to "round up" the Illuminate from his home city. Maddox refuses, goes rogue, and decides to go on his own campaign to remove his old commanding officer from power. Immediately following the defeat of the UEF Commander, he discovers a portal that leads to Seraphim VII, unlocking the second campaign.
The second campaign (dedicated to the Illuminate) follows Commander Thalia Kael as she fights under the commands of Command William Gauge to "restore the Illuminate to their former glory" before turning against her former comrades and realizing her mistake and being unwittingly aiding Gauge's purpose.
The Cybran campaign follows Ivan Brackman (an experimental genetic composite clone of Dr. Brackman and Elite Commander Dostya), an old roommate of Maddox, who fights under the direction of Dr. Brackman (whom Ivan refers to as "father" while attempting to help his friends).
The final battle takes place on the surface of an ancient planetary terraformer called Shiva Prime. After the battle, Ivan comes to a realisation about Shiva Prime and does not conform to his father's will.
On 24 February 2010, a demo of Supreme Commander 2 was released on the Steam digital distribution service. The demo includes two tutorial levels and two campaign levels all played as the UEF faction, but does not include skirmish or multiplayer modes. The single player includes two missions, which were picked to show the more advanced portion of the game.
In both the skirmish and multiplayer modes, players start out with an Armored Command Unit (ACU), which is a large, powerful, construction-capable unit, as their avatar on the battlefield. They build mass extractors and power generators, which produce mass and energy, along with research facilities that produce research points faster. Players can also build land, air, and sea factories that produce land, air, and sea units, respectively. Players may also build add-on structures, expanding the capabilities of existing factories. Some buildings and units are more advanced than others and as players' bases and research levels expand, so does the quality of their units. Research points can be spent on faction-specific tech trees to add bonuses, abilities and upgrades, and to unlock more-advanced units and buildings. The final result of this development is the unlocking of experimental units, which are large, research-unlocked units and buildings with significantly more power than other units and buildings. Experimental units can be produced from experimental gantries (buildings with the sole purpose of building experimental units) or built by engineers. The ultimate aim of the game is to destroy the opponents' ACUs.
In the heavily-scripted campaign mode, the player is provided with a base at the start of the game, and faces an already-established opponent. In order to finish the level, the player has to complete certain objectives, for example "destroy the enemy's experimental unit". As the campaign progresses, the player is able to unlock a wider range of units, the missions become more challenging, and the enemy grows stronger.
In an interview with MacGamer, an online magazine dedicated to gaming on Mac PCs, game designer Chris Taylor had this to say about Supreme Commander 2 and its spiritual link to his previous Total Annihilation series: "I think they are indeed the spiritual successors, because of the way I approach RTS Real-time strategy design. I don’t like a lot of rules, and I like big, open worlds. Some might say the economy systems play a role in that, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I think many folks will see our upcoming Kings and Castles game as a continuing extension of those previous RTS titles." 
Changes from Supreme Commander
While there are many differences between Supreme Commander (together with its expansion, "Forged Alliance") and Supreme Commander 2, the two primary changes are the introduction of a new resource – research – and a complete reworking of the resource-gathering mechanism.
Research is a new form of resource which is accumulated by building research labs. The rate at which research is acquired is based on the number of research labs built. Research points can be spent to acquire new technology in a hierarchical fashion at any time during the game. This produces an entirely different game from the original because it often results in a multiplayer game where one side will suddenly acquire a significant technological advantage (for example the ability to use a loyalty gun, which converts lots of enemy units to one's own side, or the ability to fire a nuclear missile). It is often this sudden, game-changing acquisition of technological advantage which leads to the end of a multiplayer or skirmish game.
The primary resources in Supreme Commander 2 are still mass and energy. However, the way these resources are accumulated and used by the player has been drastically changed from the first game in the series.
In the game's first release, the resource-system functioned as it does in most other RTS games (resources can only be spent after being acquired, and build orders cannot be placed if there are insufficient resources to complete the build - starting a build reduced a player's resources by the total cost of the build immediately). However, patch 1.23 significantly changed the economy system. Resources are deducted from the total during the build. If there are insufficient resources to complete the build then engineers and factories will build as far as current resources allow and then remain in a quasi-paused state until more resources become available. With this change, the building mechanic more closely resembles that of the previous game.
Mass fabricators (which in Supreme Commander changed energy into mass at a pre-determined rate) have been replaced with mass converters, which must be manually triggered to change a fixed amount of energy into a corresponding amount of mass.
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There are fewer units and buildings in total: three or four units in Supreme Commander have been condensed into one unit in Supreme Commander 2 and many buildings have been removed. There are eight experimental units per faction, which are now built by special experimental construction buildings (except for sea-based units, which are still constructed by engineers). Experimental units in Supreme Commander 2 are generally less expensive and take less time to build, but have a smaller impact on the game than the units in Supreme Commander. However, like in the original, these units are still generally the units that eventually provide victory in multiplayer games. The 'adjacency system' has been removed. Some buildings no longer cause damage to surrounding units by exploding when destroyed, but power generators and mass converters still explode on death. A big change involves the use of a research tree instead of three tiers of technology levels, although buildings are divided into two groups called "basic" and "advanced". All those buildings classified as "advanced" are unlocked by research, except for the radar/sonar station. The tech tiers have been replaced by five technology trees - one each for Air Units, Land Units, Naval Units (which are not included if playing as the Illuminate, due to the fact that they have no navy), Structures and ACUs. Formation-based movement has been removed in favour of an automatic self-organization system for units. The Aeon Illuminate has been renamed The Illuminate, and has been stripped of all naval vessels in favour of units using hover technology. The campaigns in Supreme Commander 2 are more focused on conflicting characters rather than ideologies; there is not a state of 'total war' as there was in the original. Maps are generally smaller and there is less "playable" battle space on maps due to an increase in decorative terrain. ACUs no longer upgrade on themselves over a given time, but instead instantly through research. Nukes no longer act as a game enders and resource storage buildings for mass and energy have been removed. Lastly there are no longer any player-affected resource caps.
On initial release, the game received mixed critical reception. While many critics praised the game as a standalone title, it was generally perceived to be a simplified version of the original game. Alec Meer, reviewing for Eurogamer, predicted that the game would "leave much of its intended fanbase cold," and Tom Francis, writing for PC Gamer UK, later summarized Supreme Commander 2 as "a game that solved the accessibility issues of the first game, bought primarily by people who didn’t want them solved." On Metacritic, which aggregates a wide range of reviews and assigns an average score, the game received 77 out of 100 based on 54 reviews.
After release, the game received several major updates and changes. For example, one update released in October 2010 reworked the way construction was paid for, as described above. The changes were widely praised and the game was considered by critics to have been improved since release. For example, Tom Francis, who gave the game a score of 85 out of 100 on release, said in October 2010 that had he been reviewing it in October 2010, he would have given it a 90. PC Gamer UK named Supreme Commander 2 their 2010 "Co-op Game Of The Year".
- Infinite War Battlepack DLC: Contains 8 new maps and 14 new units and more than 10 new upgrades. This DLC was released in March 2011.
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