At times, Supreme Commander can be bloody hard work. When you're trying to juggle power management and build queues, cover countless front lines and synchronise air, land and sea attacks, the idea of stepping away from the PC to do a day's work at a lumber mill seems like quite an appealing alternative. Bizarrely, though, despite the fact that we were slightly unnerved by the somewhat unforgiving learning curve of the original, Forged Alliance manages to provide a much more enjoyable single-player campaign by throwing you straight into the action and scrapping the training wheels entirely.
The six-mission campaign tosses you right into a massive battle with tons of units at your disposal, which, after the original's slow and drawn-out pacing, is a welcome introduction in itself. But the principal reason Forged Alliance won't have you reaching for the brown paper bag to de-stress too many times is its revamped and improved UI. In the campaign you'll notice it at work immediately -replacing the dirty great bar that hogged half your screen and rendering it an entirely cleaner affair.
You can hide
and expose menu items on the fly, and it's generally a lot easier to see who's kicking whose arse and how many of your engineers are having a sneaky kip round the back of the land factory.
After some clicking around, this soon makes the whole experience much more stress-free. The game enables you to select what you want to see and what you don't in your intel, military and UI info, so there's a lot less clutter on screen and no useless info screaming out for your attention and threatening to cause cardiac arrest due to information overload. Good news indeed - and you'll quickly discover this interface upgrade is the icing on the cake of a meaty single-player campaign that improves upon the original in many, many ways.
Forged Alliance, as the title suggests, sees the original game's warring factions (the UEF, the Cybran Nation and the Aeon Illuminate) banding together against a new enemy, the Seraphim. This Transformer-esque group of aliens is out to kill off the human race, and plays in a much more laid-back, less stroke-inducing manner than the usual suspects. See? Gas Powered have been listening!
The Seraphim units take longer to build than those of the other factions, but are consequently more powerful. This basically means that you can build up a squad of fewer than ten Sniper Bots and go out and decimate 25 enemy Siege Tanks - making the faction essentially a bridge solution for every player who found the original game a little too taxing when it came to build management.
On top of this, everything's looking prettier (although the hardware demands have increased accordingly), and some of the new experimental units, such as the base-levelling Seraphim Bomber, are absolutely fantastic.
For SupCom fans, Forged Alliance doesn't do that much wrong at all; there are tons of new units in there, the solo campaign is action-packed and void of gameplay lulls while the new faction is a genuinely different and welcome addition to the roster.
Ultimately, the comparatively sloth-like Seraphim and the UI changes aren't going to be enough to fully convince those put off by the original's demanding gameplay, but any variant on the SC model is forever going to require a quick-brained RTS fan to fully appreciate it. If you're not a master multitasker, you may want to ditch the Red Bull and play something less intense, but until then we'll keep our bastard-massive UFO hovering right over your base...
Back in command
- Great, action-packed solo campaign
- Improved UI and engine
- Even bigger new experimental units
- Still too demanding for some players
- Still hardware-munching