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Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

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By Bis18marck7012-02-2013
Leigh Cobb (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

The Defence

Developer:
Gas Powered Games
Publisher:
THQ
Genre:
Strategy
Release Date:
US 06-11-2007
EU 23-11-2007

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 6800
AMD equivalent
RAM:
1 GB
HDD:
8 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

 

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance probably has one of the hardest legacies to live up to. Its predecessor, Supreme Commander, was poetry in motion for any RTS fan, overshadowing other titles of the genre and setting a new benchmark for many. After being teased in the final campaign mission with the possibility of an add-on, fans received Forged Alliance roughly half a year after the original. Has Forged Alliance lived up to its expectations or did it signal the end of what could have been a glorious franchise?

The Trial

 

By now, Intergalactic Warfare has seen quite a few different adaptations. Next to past wars here on good old Earth, a future that is filled with violence, battles and conquest seems to magically draw us into a fascination that not only satisfies our imagination, but also gives room and actively encourages one’s own drive to make a mark on things – albeit they be digitally. It’s a contradiction of the most peculiar fashion that while we tend to wish nothing but peace for the future, we still throw ourselves into the fray when it comes to spaceships, rockets and the joy that comes from Pew-Pew-Pews (aka. lasers).

When Supreme Commander came out in 2007, galactic warfare entered a new era. It was not space battles or an in-depth diplomacy and technology mechanic that grasped RTS players, but the sheer brutality and scale of futuristic warfare. The colossal size of things to come, the destruction that will be brought with it and the enormity of resources needed to overcome ones foe, suddenly opened our eyes like nothing short of a woman’s slap. Forget past games that gave you a few units to send off into the general direction of the enemy- it won’t work. Supreme Commander shattered our perception that the war of the future would be as surgical and focused as today’s rockets, smart bombs and targeting optics might make you believe. No, in the future, with weapons more lethal than anything we can presently imagine, you’ll need to plan and build big in order to withstand the onslaught. The utter economical effort and macro-planning of war, unknown to us from previous games, suddenly hit us in the face – and we loved it.

A new series of 'Pimp my Robot' - Bigger, better and more boombastic than ever before.

A new series of 'Pimp my Robot' - Bigger, better and more boombastic than ever before.

Forged Alliance continues the saga of destruction and mayhem. With the invasion of the Seraphim, the old ideological lines have broken and the UEF, Cybran and Aeon forged their alliance to have even the slightest hope of survival. Worse still, the latter two have seen schism concluding in civil-war and as such, the battle lines are drawn anew and galactic peace, within one's grasp at the end of Supreme Commander, has moved on to another universe, far away from the hands of man.

This alliance-out-of-necessity between the different races is a welcomed turn from the original Supreme Commander. While before blind hate, given from father-to-son with no clear reason other than the so often human ‘we have always fought them’ rational, has reigned supreme in each nation, Forged Alliance has given peace, far away and hidden, a chance with the introduction of a common adversary. This aspect of the game proves to be both the most intriguing and disappointing.

Choosing either to play as the UEF, Cybran or ‘Hipster-turned-Jingoist’ Aeon, the missions, all ultimately the same, will only give you limited replay value and other than a few jabs between each commander, of the old rivalry that plunged the galaxy into a merciless war, not much can be seen. While the UEF, Cybran and Aeon will find common ground and mutual respect over the course of the war, the chance to truly showcase how bitter hate and old-hedged grudges give way to a more harmonious environment has not been taken. It is a shame really, for after slaying millions of Aeon, Cybrants and terrans, the player finds himself put into a peculiar position in which he does not quite know how his old foe suddenly became his best friend.

When ships walk on earth, you know sh*t's about to go down.

When ships walk on earth, you know sh*t's about to go down.

It is a small gripe, yet common enemy or not, it would have benefited the game and the galaxy it draws up, to have distrust and suspicion implemented into the campaign. Should one fail to save an army of Cybrants from a marauding Seraphim offensive, why not have this failure actively penalize the player, with a withdrawal of Cybran forces from the battlefield? Or, should one be so incompetent as to fail over and over again, to actively eliminate this ally for ever. Indeed, why not have the player experience, before the main campaign actually kicks off, the utter need to band together before plunging him into the bombastic battle? As it stands, the story is stale and without much soul which makes one question - why bother with it at all.

Yet, it is in these moments that the game shows of its true cards. The story might only be there to clasp together a few missions but the game itself still pulls of great feats of wonder. The battles remain bombastic in nature with plenty of wrecks littering the ground where shots were fired. As with Supreme Commander, Forged Alliance will fill your room with the sound of bombastic explosions, the rumbling of machines of war and the dropping of bombs with the allure of a battle, immersing even those that simply stand by and watch. Especially during the campaign, the action has been condensed into a smaller field – although the maps remain extensively large – giving it the appearance of true carnage. Bomb craters, wrecks and broken pieces of machinery litter the field. A new emphasis has been put on the experimental units of each nation giving the player need for more and bigger guns to stem the tide of the advancing horde. Putting the action into only six missions might prove disappointing on first impression but with each engagement lasting a good few hours unless you want to rush through them, the campaign is of acceptable, even commendable length.

Little can be said about the Skirmish aspect of the game. This is not to say that it is suboptimal in its form. On the contrary, the AI can be challenging at times and build orders, a good economy and hard-counters play a fundamental role in keeping the player engaged and active. However, the skirmish mode provides little more than the original game other than providing the Seraphim as a new playable race, leaving fans of the first game wanting more slightly disappointed. That, and the more controllable environment of the Skirmish in which the player creates his own parameters, will make it into a diluted Multiplayer game instead of a truly valid game mode. The guess work which comes with each game on the online sphere is simply not there and as such a balanced build of units will prove victorious in every game.

What is this? A new form of Merry-go-round?

What is this? A new form of Merry-go-round?

The Multiplayer, even if played together against the AI, is where the real fun lies. The introduction of the Seraphim with their futuristic and hard-hitting units will beacon new tactics and gameplay, giving something new to the online field. Being able to focus on the part of the game you truly enjoy, team play and coordination become necessary to succeed – especially if one should decide to combat a more challenging AI. Coordinating on who should focus into what branch of the military or have a designated economic powerhouse able to fuel and carry the other players, is part of the package and fun. The choice is yours and each game provides a new adventure with not even one being similar to the other with even defeat carrying its own kind of satisfaction. Slugging it out with two gigantic armies can only leave one winner but the spectacle itself provides the gamer heart with all that is needed making even defeat a satisfying experience.

Indeed, failure often comes with a huge portion of unusual joy. Should your enemy have just overwhelmed your defences and storm your last bastion, then perhaps now is the time to launch those three nukes you have stored away – preferably there where he does not except it i.e. your own base, turning his glorious army and commander into an obliterated piece of chunk.

Sadly, all great things have a flaw and this is no different in Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. With no real weaknesses in its gameplay aspects, the game is let down by programming problems. It is of no surprise really that the grand number of units and buildings have a taxing effect on PC systems and while it might not be the, in present times, most beautiful looking game – who cares really when you blow everything up anyway – it still holds the rare yet persistent crash like a joker card to play in the most suboptimal circumstances. Even those rigs that handle the game superbly will suffer from the occasional crash turning a great little game into a cry of agony and frustration. Even more painful during the Multiplayer, desync’s and disconnects are, again, rare but persistent, greatly diminishing the joy and fun. Frequent saves save you and your fellow friends.

The Verdict

 

All in all, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is hard to judge. As a standalone without the previous game, this one would rank higher than Supreme Commander any day yet with only limited changes for old veterans, the game will leave them puzzled to what’s actually truly new. While the new race itself provides some additional, non-human diversity, it being the only true new addition to the game can thus be of slight disappointment. That being said, the game still offers you grand battles on an even larger scale, immersive and intense, challenging and satisfying. As such, should you have never played Supreme Commander, then forget it and buy Forged Alliance right away - It holds everything a RTS fan could wish for.

Case Review

  • Battles: War on an epic scale.
  • Additional Race: Adding variety and new tactics.
  • Immersion: Feel like a warlord dictating the course of the galaxy.
  • Diverse Races: Each race plays differently with their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Soundtrack: Passable and unpretentious – It works.
  • Campaign immersion: Potential of the campaign was not fulfilled.
  • Changes: Limited innovation over Supreme Commander.
5
Score: 5/5
Glorious and bombastic RTS - like poetry in motion.
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Posts: 1548

Best. Strategy. Ever!