Supreme Commander: Hands-On With the Xbox 360 Version

The epic RTS is coming to an Xbox 360 near you. We go hands-on to see how the port of this PC game is coming along.

Porting one of the most popular and complex real-time strategy games of recent years, Gas Powered Games' Supreme Commander, over from its native PC onto the Xbox 360 is an unenviable task for the folks at Hellbent Games. After all, games as richly nuanced and deep as SupCom, as it's come to be affectionately known, can only be done on the PC, right? Well, not so fast. As we discovered during a recent hands-on session with the game, Hellbent has been working to ensure that SupCom for the Xbox 360 is a faithful adaptation of the PC game and, perhaps more importantly, that the game's inherent complexity is mitigated by a useful and easy-to-use control scheme.

If there's a single word to encompass SupCom, it would be "scale." More so than practically any RTS before it, Supreme Commander presented a sense of large-scale battles taking place on truly huge maps. In the PC version, the eight largest player maps could see battles taking place with armies that featured hundreds of units. That sense of scale is still well intact in the Xbox 360 version of the game, though some cutbacks have been made. Most pointedly, the eight player maps have been removed, and a unit cap of 500 has been imposed.

Supreme Commander's futuristic weaponry and epic scale is heading to an Xbox 360 near you.

Those cuts might be a bummer for the SupCom hardcore but, for console fans who haven't been able to enjoy this ground-breaking RTS on a PC, consider it a necessary evil. During our (admittedly limited) time with the game, the look and feel of SupCom's epic scale seemed to be well intact as you quickly progress from a barren stretch of land to a thriving base of operations with dozens of units at your command.

A huge number of units to keep track of, large landmasses to conquer, and multiple fronts in your battle for supremacy: How do you all keep track of it without a mouse and keyboard? To be sure, the folks at Hellbent and Gas Powered Games (which has been working with Hellbent on porting over the game) have made the most of the Xbox 360 controller. In fact, the first pass of the console control system was built and tested on the PC version of the game. From that point, the controls have moved through several iterations, ultimately settling into the system that is in place now.

First, let's talk movement. Scrolling around the map is controlled with the left stick, whereas zooming in and out is handled with the right stick. Just as in the PC version, zooming is an essential tool--from the on-the-ground unit-by-unit view, to a bird's-eye (or would that be satellite's eye?) vantage point hundreds of miles above the theater of operations, you'll always have the view you need.

Practically everything you can do in the 360 version of SupCom is handled with command wheels that control everything from your basic commands on the battlefield to unit construction and queues. You bring up the different command wheels with the directional pad and then choose the command you want by selecting it with the analog stick and pressing A.

To assist the rapid construction of your forces, SupCom's queue mechanics are quite easy to use. For instance, to build a number of engineers quickly, you can first select a factory, press right on the D pad to bring up the build wheel, and select an engineer to add to your queue. Pressing left on the D pad will then take you over to the queue window, where you can automatically add additional numbers to those units already being built. Holding down the right button while adding units to the queue will add five at a time. There's also a handy "infinite" button you can press on the queue menu that will automatically cycle through your current queue, continuously building units as you desire and your economy allows.

Templates are another handy tool at your disposal for quick-and-dirty base building. Here, you can save a group of buildings in one of several template arrangements and then stamp that template anywhere you can build. Your engineers will then proceed to build out the constructs as needed. Templates are saved independent of your current game, too, so that the next time you fire up the game, you'll be able to use any templates you've saved in previous matches.

Grouping is the final piece of the controls in SupCom, and the game has several features that will let you keep track of the many units you'll have on hand. First of all, there's a grouping wheel that will let you choose units by type; you can even see how many of that unit type are currently idle, which is a nice touch. Furthermore, you can select units of the same type by selecting a unit and pressing A twice: Any other units of the same type will automatically be selected. There's also the standard "box-select" method, where you hold down the A button and draw a rectangle around the units you wish to select.

The new control-wheel-based system actually results in a much cleaner-looking game, and as a result SupCom for the Xbox 360 has fewer heads-up display elements onscreen. In addition, the game has an interactive tutorial that will introduce players to the new controls, which is a nice step up from the original's underwhelming tutorial. Finally, although the game won't let you configure the controls as you like, there are a ton of options you can toggle to create the gameplay experience you want: everything from magnetism setting (which affects how prone the game is to "snap" to units when the cursor is nearby) to whether or not you can rotate the map when zoomed out.

The general campaign for SupCom will be around 30-40 hours and will be the same as the one found in the original game. Although the game won't include any of the content from the Forged Alliance expansion pack, producers said that the new, clearer HUD was borrowed from Forged Alliance, as well as some of the back-end artificial intelligence improvements, resulting in a game that plays smarter and smoother than the original.

Despite its complexity, you can play SupCom with an Xbox 360 controller.

On the multiplayer front, online matches in SupCom will top out at four players. Two new modes have been added to multiplayer: king of the hill and command point. In king of the hill, the goal is to send as many units as you can to a certain point on the map; you'll receive points for each unit that manages to get to that area, and units that are higher up the tech tree will earn you additional points. In command point, you have to capture and keep multiple points on a map; this mode will likely challenge the speed of your base-building skills because, after capturing a point, you'll need to quickly ramp up its defenses to prevent an opponent from swooping in and destroying your work.

Based on our time with the game, it seems that Hellbent has done an admirable job of cramming all of the complexity of Supreme Commander into the Xbox 360. Only extensive play testing will give us the final word on how the console version's controls stack up to the PC version, and you can expect to see a full review of the game when it is released in March.

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123 comments
mrvincent
mrvincent

Monday, Monday, Monday....! Did I spell "Monday" right? I dont care...Im giddy. RTS for the consoles r the ultimate. Just think what will happen after Halo Wars comes out. All the A.D.D Halo players will get into RTS, and we wont have to wait 15 mins to get a game going. Yeah baby! I liked C&C for the 360 but it was a little fast paced for my liking(Meaning, I got owned 90% of the time). I have Universe At War and the pacing is great though the lag sucks a**. Sup Com, better not lag much. Monday = SC, C&C and BF:BC....yeah baby!

jason19
jason19

hello gusy im get supreme commop in heal war to i save lol bank for 208 in 209 for ps3 games out for hot games im rdy i wislit i can show you my games room i have look so cool i have big tv is can go like 300 feel big so i love it tack me get one like 203 to 205 lond time save money for suff look so good on sup tv im love it i cat walit for hd xbox360 my the cant wlait for games

jason19
jason19

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Wolfie600
Wolfie600

For those people who want to buy Universe at war over this.. DONT DO IT! universe at war for the 360 is uber crap.. framerate issues and controller gayness becomes really frustating so just wait for this one or halo wars

ParisSun
ParisSun

I have to give you RTS lovers credit, these types of games can be grueling IMO. I felt like I was working. The stress to build up forces is ridiculous in these games. Once you get going it's a lot of fun but early on you get the $hit beat out of you.

wildnine00
wildnine00

Alright, my spider sense is telling me that as far as console versions go, Universe at War has this one beat. Painting works better than drag boxes with a control pad for starters.

dukesmell
dukesmell

Finaly, I have been having to go to this computer place built into the side of a bowling ally to play this game. Now I can finaly take it home. PS: hopefully there will be a cheat that gets rid of the unit cap if not............... well then that will just suck.

Slump3317
Slump3317

Very excited since my Computer takes a crap when I start up the PC version lol.

gah468
gah468

I LOVE THE XBOX 360!!! It gets ports from awsome rts games, which are my favorite genre.

Stealth-S-117
Stealth-S-117

RTS for consoles? Sweet! And it's not just 360 either; Red Alert 3, TC Endwar and now World in Conflict have all been confirmed for release on PS3.

slai47
slai47

supreme commander looks cool but i dont know about it. i am deciding between supreme commander and universe at war: earth assult? massive battles or smaller ones? i really have a problem

Extreme124
Extreme124

love Strategy / RTS titles like C&C now Supreme Commander cant wait for this hope the saveing and loading isnt as bad as C&C 3 on the 360 was Cant wait for Halo Wars also Red Alert 3 cant wait for them.

Lord-Viru
Lord-Viru

Bought this game, computer wouldn't even load it, so now its coming out on 360 i am uber happy :) and control schemes don't matter, i've played plenty of games with pretty bad schemes and enjoyed them anyway cos they were great fun to play

Yogizilla
Yogizilla

It would be nice to see cross-platform support on this game but I doubt it since there are system-imposed restrictions on the 360. All those units being tracked at once surely burdens the CPU. Anywho, I am a PC gamer but I'm trying to limit how many distractions, I mean, games I have on my PC.. Having SupCom released on the 360 is a nice compromise. I think I may very well get this. Besides, I could use some variety in my 360 library. 8)

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

sorry 'bout the ps3 comment, I spoke too soon. Red alert three is coming out on the ps3 so sorry sony fanboys : (

razim14
razim14

Finaly!!!!!!! Been waitin forever to play this game. My pc cant handle it but it will be interisting to see how well it does on the 360.

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

lol poor PS3 owners, have they even got a taste of any strategy titles on the PS3? Well forgive me if i'm wrong but I dont think they have. I guess its cause most strategy titles are for the PC and are windows titles. I guess that relation makes it easier to port onto the 360. Anyways with this and UAW and Halo wars the 360's never going to be lacking strategy titles.(Oh yeah and lets not forget CaC3: KW)

Teebown24
Teebown24

this has the potential to either blow up in our faces or be really good. we will have to wait and see. I played the PC version and it was fun. Oh, and dark avenger, i believe that idea was already made. its called the computer you typed that on!

nytemarex
nytemarex

Darkavenger07: That's a PC. Wow, you're not very bright are you?

nytemarex
nytemarex

Funny thing is there is no shadows in the 360 Version. Which is a big graphics drainer.

ag3ntz3rox0x
ag3ntz3rox0x

this is going to be mad laggy on xbox ive

TooQuickStix
TooQuickStix

Yeah, Im sure MIcrosoft will trying to reduce profits right away. Hold your breath on that one.

Darkavenger07
Darkavenger07

Here's an Idea: Mix the Xbox and PC! It'll be a PCX! That way, we could use both the controler and the KB&M. Plus you can upgrade it to play games with better graphics and framerates and still be able to type that essay you've put off for the past 2 years. And also, mabey lower the price of games. It could work... ...Mabey.

freakykidd
freakykidd

CnC3's control scheme was actually pretty good on 360 - its the framerate I'm worried about. CnC3 had pretty bad framerate issues, and SupComm needs MUCH more horsepower than CnC3 (on the PC anyway). If they can get the framerate good without having to make it look like **** then were onto a winner here.

valcrist09
valcrist09

RTS on consoles are horrible and always will be tell they add a mouse and keyboard.

Anabub
Anabub

Is it really to much to ask MS to give us 360 owners a mouse?

bane546
bane546

@Ba0ng89 C&C was terrible on the 360 compared to the PC and i've played the series since the original. Don't get me wrong, its a good game but a controller just wasn't designed for RTS games. Microsoft really needs to stop being money whores and allow for keyboard and mice compatability or even the crappy qwerty keyboard they have would be better than just a controller. lets go firmware update!!

Ba0ng89
Ba0ng89

@LegionofClouds Well not really...C&C was a good game wasnt it?

xatman911
xatman911

The graphics don't look as good. But than again you would need a monster of a pc to run it in full bloom. Will it be better on PS3, if there is a PS3 version. Imagine it on Wii, lol.

XXMadManVII
XXMadManVII

As far as RTSs on consoles go: not impressed. I hope that this (SupCom) and Halo Wars will not be more of the same. I think that the 360 controller is able to handle the functions required to play a RTS but nobody has done it very well yet. The promise of a intuitive control scheme is a far cry from reality. We will see.

bendall01
bendall01

Flop or not? I want to know how the big battles run on the console, if runs as slow as a fat man's ass (as in framey)(sorry, I just wanted to sound funny, not like a biggett) then I think it wasnt worth porting...

LegionofClouds
LegionofClouds

Some people just arnt into hardcore RTS mebbe? It takes a different kind of gamer to like this kind of game Its not repetitive unless you play the game that way ; ) and units aren't boring if you don't think that way I personally like the game and wanna see how this one pans out on the 360 Most RTSs so far have basically crashed and burned and didn't survive the transfer to a console from a computer so I'm interested in how this one will work out. If this one works out maybe more will come onto the 360 ^^

Rowr14
Rowr14

im with sammojo. Story is blah. Units lack character, gameplay is repetitive.

TranClan
TranClan

@ Sammojo How dare you say SupCom is crap?!?!?! Its a **** awesome game

Sammojo
Sammojo

Meh, supcom is a crap game anyway.

gateybakes245
gateybakes245

Running this whole GameTrax operation was a guy named Josh Larson. But after Broady, Kasavin, and others left GameSpot, Larson took over the editorial aspect of the site as well. So here you had Josh Larson -- the man behind selling sponsorships of editorial -- now placed directly in charge of the editorial itself. You tell me if you see any potential conflict of interest there. > > Around the same time, Steven Colvin, known for having launched such publications as Stuff magazine, took over CNET's entertainment and lifestyle group, of which GameSpot is a part of. I don't know what his editorial influence has been on GameSpot, if any, but his track record didn't exactly point to editorial integrity as one of his prime values. Stuff magazine, for example, used to run game reviews that were written based off of screenshots and fact sheets, before the games were even playable to the press (I knew several freelancers who made lots of easy money from this). So yeah, you had the guy in charge of GameTrax and the guy who launched Stuff overseeing all editorial on GameSpot. And so the stage was set for the events of last November to unfold. Eidos paid a substantial amount of money to have its ads point to the GameSpot review of Kane & Lynch. The Kane & Lynch review wasn't very favorable. Eidos freaked. GameSpot caved. Internet exploded.

Chinbobbabobot
Chinbobbabobot

Now is this SupCom with Forged Alliance? Or did they just pack some of the FA units (Hoplite, etc) into this? Personally I think FA's kinda better than regular SC since it has an improved interface, bigger single player battles, more multiplayer options and, most importantly, bigger variety to the factions. There's nothing I despised more in the original than having the same units with just different skins for each side.

SilentLine04
SilentLine04

Sweet I when this launches I'll reclaim 10 gigs of precious hard drive space an the pc version gets to hit the shelf for a bit.

TooQuickStix
TooQuickStix

Personally I dont think a game has come along yet that has dethroned Starcraft in the RTS genre, but that said, RTS games DO NOT work on a console. The controllers just dont compare to a KB and a mouse. That said I do like consoles for my FPS games, I think you get a much better 3d feel using stix rather than arrows and a mouse, even if they are more accurate. The good thing about consoles is the level playing field, I was never a big fan of the mods, when all people do is tailor the games to their favorite and best and biased skills, which happens ALL THE TIME in PC games. The developers strive for years to get a good balance then people just change it and make it unbalanced, always pisses me off.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

@shivadee_basic lol good for you but you will still need a table of sorts to place k&m on to play it well , generic for using a pc via a monitor and desk lol how else will one get the most out of a SLI EN8800GT TOP ? ahh yeah to get the most out of the res your need the old widescreen monitor it would seem , as for the speed that don't mean horse cack as your fellow users will also be using the pad .

shivadee_basic
shivadee_basic

Sorry to spoil it for you Agermemnon, although i own all 3 of the current consoles, my PC is hooked right up to my HDTV like the consoles. I game from the couch with a kb/mouse and love it. You can be generic and sit at a dest on a monitor, or you can plug it into a 52 inch HDTV and have fun too. I dont let any platform restrict me from where I game. Nothing wrong with the controler versions eg. LOTR and C&C3....but you are nowhere NEAR as fast with it than a kb/mouse. Some genres work better on some platforms. Funny thing is metaljeff, EA are the ones that BROUGHT the RTS to the console in a VERY playable way :P

metaljeff
metaljeff

2008 is going to be a revolutionary one for RTS games on consoles!!!.....I remember someone telling me that SC would fry a 360...Glad they are being proven wrong....Up till now we have only had shoddy EA RTS games.

synvion
synvion

why dont they just make 360 games keyboard and mouse compatible?? they did on the dreamcast and it worked great. then at least when we play PC gamers in online cross overs like huxley we'd be on and even playing field.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

I don't care about mouse & keyboard controls that's for gaming at a desk with a pc not on the sofa in the living room pffffff other RTS that have come to the 360 have been ok control wise so why are pc only fanboys posting here ? STICK TO YOUR PC VER THEN PLEASE . do they feel threatened by SC coming to the 360 lol ? this should be good bbut would like to see the Warhammer Dawn of War games come to the 360 also as it's more action orientated and i am sure would sell well .

guertt
guertt

I want a dam keyboard and a mouse!!!!

godofwar0666
godofwar0666

I think this game sounds and looks good But i wish they didn't put a unit cap. i mean the games better with MILLIONS of men not just 500.