Supreme Commander 2 is a broad and bold real-time strategy game that might surprise fans of the 2007 original. Don’t worry: If you loved Supreme Commander, the sequel still offers the tactical flexibility and enormous scope you were expecting, albeit tempered by a bit of economic streamlining. But SupCom 2’s not just a retread of what’s come before; it’s a slick retooling of classic gameplay that happily and successfully embraces both complexity and user friendliness. This is an inviting package for both veterans and newcomers–intricate enough to keep your mind nimble but welcoming even to those daunted by the original’s magnitude. Most importantly, it’s great fun, letting you play with a variety of interesting units and giving you lots of room to experiment with all the tactical possibilities. The strategic joy doesn’t go unhindered; pathfinding headaches and predictable AI keep Supreme Commander 2 from having the sharp cerebral edge of its predecessor. Yet, while not quite as special as its fantastic forebear, it still stands out for its fluid gameplay, excellent multiplayer maps, and the thrill of emerging victorious after an hour-long battle of wits.
One thing you’ll notice right away is Supreme Commander 2’s clean and slick aesthetic. The original was an astonishing technical powerhouse that rendered hundreds of detailed units at once, but it came at the expense of consistent performance. The sequel is clearly less visually impressive; sharp textures and rich lighting have been dulled in favor of stability and speedy frame rates. Yet, while your first impression might be how surprisingly dated SupCom 2 looks, you’ll soon grow to appreciate how smooth and supple it feels to move about the battlefield. You can still zoom all the way out to get a godlike view of the proceedings, but you aren’t likely to encounter any visual hiccups when you do. And, on three test systems, Supreme Commander 2 performed fluidly even at maximum settings. That the original looks better than the sequel makes the trade-off seem somewhat drastic, but the upside is silky camera movement and overall responsiveness. It’s breezy and enjoyable to zip about the map, issuing orders and checking in on the skirmishes in progress.