THQ Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance review
Strategy isn't strategy for some folks unless they're directing huge, faceless robotic armies.
In this second Supreme Commander game, there's still no caring about individual units. Hundreds march to war at once, and it's only when your force's death toll starts to number in the dozens that you'll even frown.
Other RTS games may let you invest more in an individual soldier, but they lack the breathtaking scale and intensity of Supreme Commander. This standalone expansion pack enlarges the game further by throwing in a new playable faction, the alien Seraphim. In the interest of balance and fair play, they're not a major departure from the drones, tanks, planes and subs of the existing races, but they're the best-looking of the bunch.
A new user interface has made this infamously complex game a little easier to play. The controls are more obvious, and it avoids the first game's mistake of obscuring a quarter of the screen with icons. It's a more unrelenting experience than before, however. If you haven't spent much time with other real-time strategy games, it will be bewildering, and even if you have, the single-player game can be a struggle. Each of its six levels stretches to a good three exhausting hours, the map cruelly expanding whenever you think you've finally vanquished your foe. It's a challenge that Supreme Commander veterans will relish, but new players will find it daunting at first.
Still, you can play skirmish missions against AI opponents, or online, where the odds are fairer. It may be too hard for some, but Forged Alliance is a welcome second chance to enjoy the spectacle of Supreme Commander. It's more polished and varied than the first game, so start here if you're new to the series.