Tony DuLac

Chris Taylor, CEO of Gas-Powered Games, set out to create a big shiny new RTS with the original Supreme Commander, and most believe he succeeded.  With this week’s release of Supreme Commander 2, we took time to hear a few thoughts from Taylor about the sequel and why it’s time for you to start smashing robots to pieces again. 

Snackbar Games: What are the 3 biggest changes in Supreme Commander 2?

Chris Taylor: First, we introduced a brand new concept, the Tech Tree.  This takes the whole concept of strategy to the next level. Our map designs are unlike anything seen in an RTS game. Incredible vistas, and terrain that stretches out to the horizon with clouds that circle incredible mesas, are where these battles now take place.  Last, but certainly not least, our unit design.  Supreme Commander 2 is more asymmetrical than any of our previous games, which means you’ll have to carefully study each faction to learn the strength and weaknesses of each.

SB: Is SupCom 2 running on the same game engine as the original?

CT: We started with the original SupCom 1 engine and have made some huge changes.  First off, we completely rewrote the rendering engine, and with that have introduced all the latest and greatest in rendering techniques, including a global illumination model with point cloud lighting.  We completely replaced the UI system, and take up less space than ever on the screen.  And finally, one of the most important changes in the RTS genre to come along, have adopted a far more sophisticated pathfinding system, what we call Flow Fields.  Pathfind is on an exciting new path, and we are leading the charge!

SB: Tell us a bit about the new faction.

CT: The Illuminate are the Aeon, re-imagined.  We wanted to improve upon the old design to make it easy to identify the units from a functionality perspective.  From a story perspective, the faction still has its roots in the original Aeon Illuminate, but has grown to adopt a new culture and philosophy, and has chosen to keep some of the old name for political reasons.  The new faction has been designed to focus on teleportation and hover technology, and still has a “zealot-like” overture to it.

SB: What are your most favorite units in the game? Why do you love ’em?

CT: It does change, but lately, I’m loving the Noah Unit Cannon (or NUC) because it’s so insanely fun to use.  It’s not the most powerful, but it very fun to play with.  When I play Cybran, it’s the Cybranasaurus Rex, because it’s an intimidating and powerful unit, and it’s a very refreshing visual. 

SB: How long will 1v1 MP matches last, on average?

CT: It does depend on the map size, but on average maybe somewhere around 30 minutes, add 20 minutes for a larger map, subtract 10 for a smaller one.

SB: What does SupCom 2 offer the more hardcore competitive RTS players?

CT: It offers a game experience that is seemingly straight forward, but under the covers, it can be very deep… the kind of game that changes week to week, as you learn the subtleties of it.

SB: How is Gas Powered Games updating/upgrading the online component for multi-player matches with SupCom 2?

CT: We’re on multiple platforms so we are starting off with 1v1, and then as time goes on we’ll look to expand the options.  We do like feedback and want to make sure we’re expanding in the right areas.  You can send me your wishes to [email protected]

SB: What’s something that you didn’t feel worked as well in SupCom but that you were able to vastly improve in SupCom 2?

CT: I think we’ve achieved a better overall balance in the way the game plays.  For example, in SupCom 1, the game can start very slowly, but moves very quickly in SupCom 2.  We’ve got better factional diversity, and we’ve got great asymmetry… and we’ve tidied up the gameplay for a game that is easy to get into, but hard to master.  And this philosophy touched almost every part of the design.  It’s a brand new game, but veterans will still be able to jump right in.

SB: What are the primary differences between the 360 and PC versions of SupCom 2?

CT: Would you believe not very much at all!?  That’s right, we’ve been able to pack the 360 with every feature available on the PC.  The first major difference is the UI, as we’ve designed a custom UI from scratch for the 360, and it plays beautifully… you’ll be blown away.  Lastly, we support 8 player MP on the PC and 4 on the 360.

SB: As far as downloadable content goes, how does Gas Powered Games plan to support SupCom 2?

CT: We’ll support the game with tuning and balancing updates as often as they are required, but we aren’t yet ready to make any announcements regarding DLC quite yet!

 

Like most good sequels, Sacred 2 pulls double-duty, revealing that it has incorporated positive aspects from past iterations while delivering entirely new gameplay ideas. Crafting the perfect follow-up title is definitely no easy task – after all, there’s always something that could be tweaked or improved from the original, but the key is in knowing where to stop fiddling and when to let the game become its own unique design. Ascaron Entertainment, Sacred 2’s UK-based development team has put together a remarkably enjoyable sequel that neatly captures that “one-more-level” mindset so crucial to action-based role-playing games. Let’s take a look at why each version is purchase-worthy and also where Ascaron may have dropped the ball a bit.

Any action/RPG hybrid, such as Diablo 1 & 2 (the true fathers of the genre) or more recently, the under-appreciated Titan Quest, need to score well in three key areas to really succeed in their genre: story/setting, interface (including camera & player character controls, and Inventory/Quest management), and combat. Too often these types of games focus on one element to the detriment of others. Thankfully, Sacred 2, on both platforms, successfully nails the run-up, routine, and the dismount with only a modicum of wobbling along the way.

Perhaps the most obvious observation for long-time Sacred fans is that this game is graphically leaps and bounds ahead of its older brother and any other action/RPG for that matter. The higher resolutions on the PC give it a slight edge over the 360 version but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how attractive the game is on the Xbox even when viewed in Standard-definition. Chalk this up to extremely competent use of colored lighting, detailed outdoor scenery (including wildlife, swaying leaves and grass, footprints in the sand, etc…), and really cool architectural designs. Particularly cool are the weapon special status animations. For example, if a sword is imbued with flame damage it may sport a fiery corona blazing along the blade’s shaft. Also, anything worn immediately appears on your character for your viewing pleasure (or chagrin). The game’s equivalent of extra abilities or spells, known as “Combat Arts”, are wonderfully realized graphically; they’re both colorful and unique, offering distinctly different visual cues and animations for each of the game’s six character classes – Seraphim (angelic medium-ranged magic and melee specialists), High Elves (haughty wizards), Inquisitors (evil sorcerers), Dryads (tree-hugging ranged warriors), Shadow Warriors (undead close-range fighters), and Temple Guardians (long and short-range robot fighters).

While setting and story won’t drag a great game down as quickly as a bad interface, they’re still key elements that enhance and refine the overall role-playing experience (limited as it may be in an action-based environment). In this regard, Sacred 2 falls a wee bit flat – particularly for those seeking realistic or clever dialogue and scripting with their adventures. Voice-acting is spotty in some places but great in others while an unfortunate number of quests appear to have drawn their inspiration from the MMORPG template (fetch 10 rat hides, 20 bat wings, etc…). However, for every paint-by-numbers mission, there are an equal amount of creative and somewhat intriguing quests – especially note-worthy are the class-based quests which flesh out character development. The main storyline revolves around the use and abuse of T-Energy, the simplistically named energy that permeates much of Ancaria and while lively enough, didn’t feel as interesting as the character-specific quest storylines.

The third and possibly most important pillar of Action/RPG game design is the User Interface. Players spend copious amounts of game-time interacting with their inventories and the game’s inhabitants; in order to keep things copacetic, developers need to have a snappy, useful, and feature-filled interface. Sacred 2 offers precisely that, for the most part.

Camera control can be tethered to a player (occasionally causing some wonkiness during battles inside interior locations) or set to Free Mode, allowing you to adjust it on the fly (which helped avoid the aforementioned wonkiness). Inventory management on PC is enhanced by an auto-sort button (both horizontally and vertically) and, perhaps more intriguingly, both versions provide a cash-in now button that allows you to sell loot even when you’re nowhere near a Trade Merchant, albeit for a lesser price. This helps alleviate loot angst when your inventory is filling up but you can’t be bothered to interrupt your current questing just to make a run back to the nearest Merchant in town. It’s a thoughtful feature and one that more games should offer. The interface also allows you to swap between weapons, spell combos (called Combat Arts), Resistances (via RuneStones), Buffs, and Potions, granting more slots as you level-up on the PC version.

The 360 version suffers a bit in this respect as the developers were limited to the button sets rather than an entire keyboard/mouse combo but it still works pretty well. You’re can link actions to the X,Y,A, and B buttons, the Gamepad, or an Alternate set of X,Y,A, and B buttons via the shoulder triggers. It’s functional but less effective overall and more limited than the PC’s excellent interface, which clearly suits this game a bit more naturally. The 360’s inventory management screens are definitely clunky at worst and adequate at best.

One troublesome issue for 360 users is that on SDTV resolutions, the text can be rather difficult to discern, leading to no small amount of eye-strain. Of course, running on HDTV settings removes this issue entirely. One disappointment, endemic to both platforms, is the limited manual which isn’t quite as thorough as could be expected. It’s not a deal-breaker but you’ll occasionally wonder why or how something works (an item bonus, potion, or combat modifier, to name a few things) since the manual leaves you to your own devices at times. Most things are clearly explained in-game so it’s a fairly rare hassle but it bears mentioning.

Multiplayer is provided for both platforms with the trade-off between easy online functionality for 360 users via Xbox Live versus more options available for PC gamers. The 360 version offers co-op both online or in person on the same screen as well as PvP and normal multiplayer modes. The PC version doesn’t offer co-op on the same screen but it does offer basically everything else. I did run into some Firewall issues that prevented me from joining a friend on an Open Server (where your character is saved on your own PC) but we were able to hack-n-slash on the Closed Servers (where your character is saved on Ascaron’s servers for cheat-prevention purposes). PvP was more of a novelty experience than anything terribly life-changing, though it was nice to see it offered at least, for those who wanted it. For those tough-as-nails players, with a chip on their collective shoulders, there is a Hardcore mode where death is a one-time, permanent affair. Die in Hardcore mode and it’s time to roll-up a new character. Not everyone’s bag of tea, but again, nice to have the option at least. One other game-design oddity is that player characters, NPCs, and even tombstones, will occasionally break the fourth-wall and address the player him or herself. It’s totally tongue in cheek and in keeping with the game’s lively sense of humor (which also adds to Sacred 2’s fresh feel) but it’s a bit off-putting at first for those not expecting it. One final, impressive note, is that the game world is huge and the incredible variety and landscape sprawl really does lend something of an epic feel to your adventuring.

Strong sequels like Sacred 2 have that rare ability to remind us of fond gaming moments spent with their forefathers while pushing us forward into a fun new future. But what really makes Sacred 2 stand successfully as its own game, is how well each of the three key elements of good Action/RPG game design have been catered to and deftly layered into an enjoyably addictive, index finger-exhausting experience. It’s a game that already has me asking for a sequel, in fact.

Plays Like: Diablo or Titan Quest
ESRB: Mature – Violence, Blood & Gore
Pros: Pretty graphics, satisfying combat, cool loot, interesting and huge game-world.
Cons: Wimpy manual, can get repetitive in places, main story arc isn’t as awesome as it could have been, some tricky firewall & server issues with PC multi-player.

Like most good sequels, Sacred 2 pulls double-duty, revealing that it has incorporated positive aspects from past iterations while delivering entirely new gameplay ideas. Crafting the perfect follow-up title is definitely no easy task – after all, there’s always something that could be tweaked or improved from the original, but the key is in knowing where to stop fiddling and when to let the game become its own unique design. Ascaron Entertainment, Sacred 2’s UK-based development team has put together a remarkably enjoyable sequel that neatly captures that “one-more-level” mindset so crucial to action-based role-playing games. Let’s take a look at why each version is purchase-worthy and also where Ascaron may have dropped the ball a bit.

Any action/RPG hybrid, such as Diablo 1 & 2 (the true fathers of the genre) or more recently, the under-appreciated Titan Quest, need to score well in three key areas to really succeed in their genre: story/setting, interface (including camera & player character controls, and Inventory/Quest management), and combat. Too often these types of games focus on one element to the detriment of others. Thankfully, Sacred 2, on both platforms, successfully nails the run-up, routine, and the dismount with only a modicum of wobbling along the way.

Perhaps the most obvious observation for long-time Sacred fans is that this game is graphically leaps and bounds ahead of its older brother and any other action/RPG for that matter. The higher resolutions on the PC give it a slight edge over the 360 version but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how attractive the game is on the Xbox even when viewed in Standard-definition. Chalk this up to extremely competent use of colored lighting, detailed outdoor scenery (including wildlife, swaying leaves and grass, footprints in the sand, etc…), and really cool architectural designs. Particularly cool are the weapon special status animations. For example, if a sword is imbued with flame damage it may sport a fiery corona blazing along the blade’s shaft. Also, anything worn immediately appears on your character for your viewing pleasure (or chagrin). The game’s equivalent of extra abilities or spells, known as “Combat Arts”, are wonderfully realized graphically; they’re both colorful and unique, offering distinctly different visual cues and animations for each of the game’s six character classes – Seraphim (angelic medium-ranged magic and melee specialists), High Elves (haughty wizards), Inquisitors (evil sorcerers), Dryads (tree-hugging ranged warriors), Shadow Warriors (undead close-range fighters), and Temple Guardians (long and short-range robot fighters).

While setting and story won’t drag a great game down as quickly as a bad interface, they’re still key elements that enhance and refine the overall role-playing experience (limited as it may be in an action-based environment). In this regard, Sacred 2 falls a wee bit flat – particularly for those seeking realistic or clever dialogue and scripting with their adventures. Voice-acting is spotty in some places but great in others while an unfortunate number of quests appear to have drawn their inspiration from the MMORPG template (fetch 10 rat hides, 20 bat wings, etc…). However, for every paint-by-numbers mission, there are an equal amount of creative and somewhat intriguing quests – especially note-worthy are the class-based quests which flesh out character development. The main storyline revolves around the use and abuse of T-Energy, the simplistically named energy that permeates much of Ancaria and while lively enough, didn’t feel as interesting as the character-specific quest storylines.

The third and possibly most important pillar of Action/RPG game design is the User Interface. Players spend copious amounts of game-time interacting with their inventories and the game’s inhabitants; in order to keep things copacetic, developers need to have a snappy, useful, and feature-filled interface. Sacred 2 offers precisely that, for the most part.

Camera control can be tethered to a player (occasionally causing some wonkiness during battles inside interior locations) or set to Free Mode, allowing you to adjust it on the fly (which helped avoid the aforementioned wonkiness). Inventory management on PC is enhanced by an auto-sort button (both horizontally and vertically) and, perhaps more intriguingly, both versions provide a cash-in now button that allows you to sell loot even when you’re nowhere near a Trade Merchant, albeit for a lesser price. This helps alleviate loot angst when your inventory is filling up but you can’t be bothered to interrupt your current questing just to make a run back to the nearest Merchant in town. It’s a thoughtful feature and one that more games should offer. The interface also allows you to swap between weapons, spell combos (called Combat Arts), Resistances (via RuneStones), Buffs, and Potions, granting more slots as you level-up on the PC version.

The 360 version suffers a bit in this respect as the developers were limited to the button sets rather than an entire keyboard/mouse combo but it still works pretty well. You’re can link actions to the X,Y,A, and B buttons, the Gamepad, or an Alternate set of X,Y,A, and B buttons via the shoulder triggers. It’s functional but less effective overall and more limited than the PC’s excellent interface, which clearly suits this game a bit more naturally. The 360’s inventory management screens are definitely clunky at worst and adequate at best.

One troublesome issue for 360 users is that on SDTV resolutions, the text can be rather difficult to discern, leading to no small amount of eye-strain. Of course, running on HDTV settings removes this issue entirely. One disappointment, endemic to both platforms, is the limited manual which isn’t quite as thorough as could be expected. It’s not a deal-breaker but you’ll occasionally wonder why or how something works (an item bonus, potion, or combat modifier, to name a few things) since the manual leaves you to your own devices at times. Most things are clearly explained in-game so it’s a fairly rare hassle but it bears mentioning.

Multiplayer is provided for both platforms with the trade-off between easy online functionality for 360 users via Xbox Live versus more options available for PC gamers. The 360 version offers co-op both online or in person on the same screen as well as PvP and normal multiplayer modes. The PC version doesn’t offer co-op on the same screen but it does offer basically everything else. I did run into some Firewall issues that prevented me from joining a friend on an Open Server (where your character is saved on your own PC) but we were able to hack-n-slash on the Closed Servers (where your character is saved on Ascaron’s servers for cheat-prevention purposes). PvP was more of a novelty experience than anything terribly life-changing, though it was nice to see it offered at least, for those who wanted it. For those tough-as-nails players, with a chip on their collective shoulders, there is a Hardcore mode where death is a one-time, permanent affair. Die in Hardcore mode and it’s time to roll-up a new character. Not everyone’s bag of tea, but again, nice to have the option at least. One other game-design oddity is that player characters, NPCs, and even tombstones, will occasionally break the fourth-wall and address the player him or herself. It’s totally tongue in cheek and in keeping with the game’s lively sense of humor (which also adds to Sacred 2’s fresh feel) but it’s a bit off-putting at first for those not expecting it. One final, impressive note, is that the game world is huge and the incredible variety and landscape sprawl really does lend something of an epic feel to your adventuring.

Strong sequels like Sacred 2 have that rare ability to remind us of fond gaming moments spent with their forefathers while pushing us forward into a fun new future. But what really makes Sacred 2 stand successfully as its own game, is how well each of the three key elements of good Action/RPG game design have been catered to and deftly layered into an enjoyably addictive, index finger-exhausting experience. It’s a game that already has me asking for a sequel, in fact.

Plays Like: Diablo or Titan Quest
ESRB: Mature – Violence, Blood & Gore
Pros: Pretty graphics, satisfying combat, cool loot, interesting and huge game-world.
Cons: Wimpy manual, can get repetitive in places, main story arc isn’t as awesome as it could have been, some tricky firewall & server issues with PC multi-player.

The Witcher

May 6, 2008

CD Projekt Red has given us “The Witcher“, a remarkable single-player RPG that captures everything flavorful about lush, gothic settings and mature themes. Even more surprising is how refreshing and different The Witcher feels compared to preceding established RPG franchises. The reasons are varied but well worth exploring.

The primary (and perhaps most obvious) gameplay aspect that sets apart The Witcher from its peers is the mature and admittedly sexist content. Gamers can only play as the titular male protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, a two-fisted aloof sword-wielder monster hunter whose passion for monster-slaying seems only matched by his ability to score with the ladies. These “extra-curricular” opportunities abound throughout the game. If you’re careful and clever enough with your witty dialogue choices, you’ll share many an enjoyable evening with a wide variety of attractive and interesting female characters. You’re actually rewarded for this behavior with a card-sized picture of your, er, “conquest” in partially nude form, to show around to all your Witcher buddies. While this may be unpalatable to some, it lends The Witcher‘s world of Temeria a lusty medieval fantasy ambiance that catches one’s interest a bit more than the usual fare and even becomes a sort of mini-game unto itself for those so inclined.

Aside from the horizontal shenanigans, there are plenty of tricky moral dilemmas to tightrope across throughout the course of the remarkably involving storyline which involves a calculated plot to discredit and destroy the few remaining Witchers in the world. While the plot teeters on a trite precipice from time to time, the journey there is very much worthwhile, and things pick up towards the latter of the game’s segments. Dialogue is delivered by voice-acting that’s better than expected, but occasionally suffers from the random wonky performance. Adding to the game’s mature feel is the haphazard usage of fairly modern swear words. It’s one thing to hear an NPC cry out for your head on a stake but it’s an entirely different situation when some surly street-fighter tells you that one of your close familial members uh….sucks (that’s not what he said). If the cuss words were sprinkled evenly throughout this game and were more consistent with the flavor of the time-period, they would allow the player to be better absorbed in the game.

Another small but bizarrely anachronistic aspect of The Witcher‘s story is the frequently mentioned and apparently well-understood aspect of genetics. Last I checked, medieval peasant types lacked the basic understanding of even the most rudimentary forms of science, let along the nuances of a highly complicated scientific field. Not only is the term “genetics” mentioned verbatim but the characters referring to this challenging science seemed remarkably well-versed in it. It’s not a major gripe, by any means, but something odd that ruins a bit of the game’s ambiance.

The unique combat system takes time to get used to. Unlike traditional action-based click-fests, The Witcher provides a novel and approach to combat that involves the use of proper timing in order to chain a series of attacks together. To further enhance combat variety and boost the element of strategic thought while slugging things out, players need to be able to understand (and have researched) the monsters they’re facing in Temeria. Foreknowledge helps you know which type of sword and potion will best suit Geralt in even his easiest battles. Geralt fights with either a special Witcher’s steel sword (mostly for human or humanoid creatures) or a more monster-unfriendly silver sword. Each offers three styles: fast for quick-hitting, lightly-armored foes, strong for buff, muscle-bound sluggers, and group for tackling multiple enemies. Unfortunately, you never really seem to have any use for the other weapons you stumble across during the game – The Witcher‘s swords are far too potent. One cool aspect of combat that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of review coverage is that CD Projekt actually enlisted the motion-captured aid of several bona fide medieval sword masters, so the wickedly cool combat animations that Geralt routinely performs look even better than they normally would. It’s something better seen to be appreciated but it ramps up the visceral enjoyment that much more.

Though it’s a small thing and something expected of these type of genre games, the leveling-up process is both thought-provoking and difficult to abuse. Every player’s version of Geralt by game’s end will look and play differently because The Witcher doesn’t strive to provide a fully-realized talent path as much as it does a “Jack-of-all-Trades” talent progression. Some may find this frustrating but it leads to characters better able to handle everything the game may throw at them, so in that regard, it’s definitely a good thing.

I also mentioned “potions” because one of the important tools every good Witcher learns to employ during his career involves the careful brewing of powerful magical concoctions that provide useful buffs or enhancements during combat. Everything from night-vision, to Matrix-style slow-motion perception and reflexes can be whipped up with enough of the right natural ingredients. This adds an amusing diversion to all the monster-mashing you’ll do while solving the game’s primary plot. This isn’t the only fun little mini-game, though – along the way you’ll be able to engage in gambling, drinking, and street-boxing events that offer experience, money, or sometimes both. These bring a variety to the proceedings that is sorely missed in other more determinedly single-minded RPGs. For those who hanker for a bit of spell-slinging, Geralt also utilizes a variety of different “signs” (read: Spells) to aid him during combat. However, these are all rather basic and in some cases they feel more like an afterthought than a useful addition.

Graphics seem to scale well, even on lower settings, while the highest settings are impressive enough to make combat just that much more enjoyable. Sound is another strong aspect, as ambiance-supporting musical themes grace many important areas while never reaching a level of annoyance. One unfortunate issue is that under Vista (at least) the game regularly crashes during loading screens. Thankfully a PC-friendly save-anywhere type system keeps this frustration mostly at bay but it doesn’t address the other main complaint – the annoyingly frequent need for loading screens. These loading screens seem less bothersome if you’re running at least 2 gigs of RAM but those without that amount should be prepared to be patient.

One final issue to consider is that CD Projekt has recently announced the future release of an “Enhanced Edition” of The Witcher, with improved graphics, better stability, and many other gameplay-improving changes. In light of this newly announced version, gamers interested in trying out The Witcher may want to wait for that version. It’s also worth noting that the North American version of The Witcher has edited out any nudity while the European versions have toned down the gore a bit – though the Euro version seems to have much better scripting and translation than its North American counterpart. Regardless of which version you eventually decide to purchase, one thing is clear: this is hands-down one of the most enjoyable, refreshing, and depth-filled role-playing games in years. Fans of the genre or even those just looking for an engaging story or setting will find plenty here to amuse them.

Second time’s the charm. In the case of the mega-expansion pack, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, it’s an aptly altered colloquialism. It was less than 8 months ago that the original Supreme Commander was released but somehow Gas Powered Games was able to create a huge add-on that improves the user-interface, sharpens AI, polishes the graphics, tweaks game balance, and offers an entirely new race. It’s an excellent addition to the series and a must-buy for any self-respecting SupCom fan.

The highlight of the show is the new race – the Seraphim. Long thought lost forever, they make a dramatic appearance via a space/time rift, determined to kick everyone’s collective hineys. SupCom‘s previous three races: the Aeon Illuminate, United Earth Federation (UEF), and the Cybran, join forces to fend off the superior technological might of the Seraphim units. The new campaign is fairly short (only six missions long) but just like the original game, these are huge, sprawling multi-part missions that, together, easily take between 10-15 hours to complete due to the huge variety of combat operations (and units) involved. There are a few surprises in the mix but for the most part, the AI succeeds primarily by consistently routine harassment and utilizing well-defended bases.

Considering that this is an entirely new race, you’d be forgiven for expecting something wildly different from the original trifecta of combatants but you’d be disappointingly wrong in that assumption. The Seraphim have a shiny new look but other than their two powerful super weapons – an uber Nuke and a wicked strategic bomber – they feel remarkably similar to the preceding races. It’s a bit of an opportunity lost but it’s a mild complaint at best since the race is still quite enjoyable to play.

The user-interface has been revamped and made less obtrusive than in the previous incarnation; the UI is now context-sensitive, freeing up far more screen real estate for your viewing enjoyment. Even the in-between mission load screens feel more informative and helpful than before. I felt a wee bit more connection to the story’s characters this time around, too, though that’s to be expected from playing an expansion pack.

Multiplayer is still handled just as exceptionally as it was in the original game by the GPG Net matchmaking service. It allows for a wide breadth of player-matching services and informational tools showing everything from a player’s records to their foibles and it works like a charm. More RTS developers should pay attention to how slick GPG Net works because it really enhances and eases the multiplayer experience for the community.

In order to play with all of SupCom‘s races in multiplayer, you’ll need to keep the original SupCom installed on your system – without it you can only battle as the Seraphim in multiplayer action but even if you choose to just purchase this standalone expansion, you’ll feel like you received a fully-featured and superbly enjoyable product. Gas Powered Games has ramped up the action in their technologically inundated universe and the high-powered conflict is just as enjoyable in this follow-up as it was in the original. Isn’t that the whole point of an expansion pack, anyway?