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E3 2009: Supreme Commander 2 eyes-on impressions

Many people, including us, were shocked at the news several months ago that Supreme Commander 2, the sequel to Gas Powered Games' hit sci-fi RTS game, would be switching publishers from THQ to Square Enix, a company that up until now has not been known for Western RTS game titles.

At E3 2009, we got a chance to check out a live demo of the game from Gas Powered's head man Chris Taylor who showed off the new graphics engine for the sequel and talked a bit about what they have planned for Supreme Commander 2. Simply put, the game looked pretty spectacular with tons of units on screen at once and highly detailed with tons of animation and great visual effects.

What's even more interesting is that Taylor claims the sequel will look this good but actually run well on a PC rig that's below the standards for the original game. Taylor told us Supreme Commander 2 was running on a two year old PC with an average processor and graphics card. New shader and texture technology that Gas Powered created for their in-house engine allows more detail to be put on fewer polygons. We can only imagine how the game looks on a high end PC rig.

The brief demo also showed off things like more vertical levels. The E3 demo level took place on a base that overlooks a desert-like terrain with canyons just below. That's something that we haven't seen before in an RTS game. And yes the game will still have massive units just like the original and will have nukes as weapons as well (although Taylor didn't show this aspect to us; he jokingly said that firing nukes in the game would be a chiche).

Fans can also expect to see returning features such as huge naval battles (not seen in our demo) and multi-monitor support. All three playable factions are back as well . . . well, kind of. The Aeon side has gotten a revamp and is now an offshoot of that original faction.

Supreme Commander 2 is set for release sometime in 2010 and Taylor said that the company is working on both the PC and Xbox 360 versions at the same time (the Xbox 360 version of the original game was developed several months after the PC version by an outside company). When asked if Games For Windows Live support would be put in he said that decision hasn't been made yet. Our decision is made, however. This sequel is looking great and fans of the original should start saving their money now.

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