We were pretty impressed with the first Supreme Commander game, and while it had a few niggles with performance, it was quite solid. Supreme Commander 2 has touched down just over three years later, but what it brings to the table isn't quite as risky as the original SupCom - though it does still break some traditional RTS conventions.
The crux of SupCom2 revolves around the struggle between three opposing factions; or more accurately, their commanders. You'll slip into the comfortable shoes of the United Earth Federation forces first off, and the basic gameplay concepts are explained to you through multiple lengthy unskippable cutscenes. Your name is Dominic Maddox, a curious commander with a constant expression that suggests someone has piped pure fart gas into your Armoured Command Unit, or ACU. Wandering onto a training course, automated battle planes and tanks attack you, and you're suddenly hit by missiles and found to be unconscious.
From here you descend further into strangeville, as Dominic dreams about his wife who nags him about coming home... where you wake up, call your wife, and have her say much the same thing again. The cutscene confoundingly ends with you walking offscreen awkwardly joking with your wife - hinting at what is the most disappointing element of the game. This poor voice acting, terrible writing and frankly mind-boggling series of events are loosely tied into the missions to the point of confusion, with many occasions where we'd rather chew on a muddy soccer boot than watch another stilted interchange. The UEF campaign is wholly tutorial-esque, and once completed you'll be left wondering why you bothered completing the missions - apart from Steam achievements we didn't really feel that we were saving anyone in particular.
However the other campaigns do pick up a little, and the missions aren't always boring. They can feel a little cookie-cutter sometimes, like stay-at-x-location-for-x-amount-of-time-without-dying, but there are a few gems that stand out as overwhelmingly fun. Part of this comes from a rethought emphasis on your economy; no longer do you need to ensure that Mass Extractors have enough capacity to maintain upkeep, instead focusing on simple money per second income. Energy is another concern, and striking an efficient balance between production of both resource is at once easy - and important. Without enough infrastructure your factories will grind to a standstill, and in SupCom2, that spells your defeat. All your buildings and defences can be built from the ACU, and you'll be able to supplement your infrastructure needs with Engineers. If the ACU is killed, you lose the game, though this can be altered in multiplayer modes.
In the previous SupCom, you would pump out units at a lower level (referred to as Tier), and ultimately research your way up the ladder to the high-end experimental units, also the most badass and powerful units in the game. However cool, this meant that you wound up never using the original units, and half the time just sent them to their death to free up unit cap. SupCom2 reinvigorates this system, and rather than obsolescing units that are available from the word go, you can simply research global upgrades to make them viable again. Land, Air, Sea, Structure and ACU upgrades are available in a tree hierarchy that only unlocks the more powerful upgrades once the basic ones have been researched, and strategies will need to be structured around which particular fighting force you choose to be your strength, mixing gameplay up considerably. Research Stations speed up the research progress, but you'll also get an increased rate during combat, giving another motivation to get out and fight.