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Gameplay and Analysis:
While Forged Alliance does include a tutorial segment, the
game is generally designed to follow straight in the footsteps of the prequel. There
are no initial ease-in build/scout missions to start with – the game will throw
newbies and professionals alike straight into the deep end with a full screen,
full scale assault with around 80% of buildings and units unlocked. While veterans
of the original won’t blink an eyelid at this, beginners to the Supreme
Commander universe may find the learning curve somewhat overwhelming.
Aside from the steep initial learning curve, the overall
gameplay is fluid and not difficult to manage once you get the hang of it. Each
side has a certain degree of overlapping with some of the units and structures,
but all feature different strengths and weaknesses in areas such as defence,
raw power, stealth, and hit and run capabilities.
The economy is run by energy (generated from power plants),
and mass, which has to be fabricated using energy or extracted from deposits on
the ground. The game encourages expansion by placing these deposits all over
the maps. The supply of these is unlimited, and constrained only by the number
of units generated per second.
The only issue I had with unit control and AI was with the aircraft
– without having any airfield or docking areas, aircraft tend to plant
themselves on the ground after construction and have a tendency to fly off to
engage nearby enemy forces, making tracking and controlling them a bit
difficult at times.
The graphics of Forged Alliance are a step up from the
original and provides plenty of pleasing eye candy. Expect full scale carnage
involving dozens of units at any one time and plenty of light shows including
laser, artillery and missile fire. Unfortunately, from a practical perspective
most of the game will most likely be played out zoomed to a strategic view
order to manage the gameplay – meaning missing out on a lot of the intricate
details and textures.
Although the minimum specifications are for a 1.8 GHz
processor with 512MB of RAM, I would be inclined to recommend following the
“recommended specifications” in order to realistically be able to play with a
decent framerate and reasonable quality graphics. The screen resolution and
details can be modified if necessary to provide some scalability with PC
The music tracks do a good job of complimenting the mood and
theme of the games and the sound effects are do their job, however playing while
zoomed out moderately can end up with a dog’s breakfast of sound effects due to
dozens of units fighting on the screen.
Multiplayer gameplay is via LAN or Gas Powered Games’ online
service, GPGnet. The service will automatically
download and install necessary updates, and features the standard chat rooms
and miscellaneous game options.
Custom games can be created that disallow certain options
such as nukes or experimental (aka super) units – great for those old fashioned
battles without having to fight in races for super weapons or super unit
battles that annihilate everything in sight.
Overall, Supreme Commander was a welcome addition to the RTS
genre, and found itself a welcome niche in the market. Forged Alliance has built on this like any good sequel
– Better graphics, the introduction of new units, and plenty of feedback driven
gameplay improvements. The single player campaign will provide well over 30
hours of gameplay, and countless hours of multiplayer gaming await.
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