Supreme Ruler 2010 E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

Highly ambitious in size and scope, this geopolitical strategy game lets you wage peace and war in a balkanized world.

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Supreme Ruler: 2010 hasn't changed much since we last saw it; it's still a hugely ambitious geopolitical strategy game that will let you micromanage virtually every detail of a society.

Set in the near future, the game posits a world split asunder along provincial lines; all the nations of the world break up into their respective states, provinces, territories, and so on. Thus, Washington could invade Oregon, or the regions of France can erupt in civil war.

As the "supreme ruler," you can oversee virtually all political, economic, and military aspects of your society. That means that you not only control tax rates, but you can dive deeper and micromanage tax rates and tax breaks for certain components of society. You'll also control interest rates, as well as invest in education, health car, infrastructure, immigration and emigration, import/export duties, and so on.

Militarily, you can research new weapons and vehicles, but the speed of advancements will depend on the high-tech health of your society. Manufacturing them will also depend on the strength of your manufacturing sector. But when you're ready, you can mobilize a wide variety of naval, air, and ground units. Of course, military buildups are never cheap, especially if your military uses high-tech weapons, and so you'll have to budget for them. You'll also need to take into account that mobilization can drain your economy of vital workers, especially if you rely heavily on reservists.

It all sounds complicated, but thankfully you can assign duties to your cabinet, a small group of hand-picked advisors who will oversee various aspects of society. You can then task your advisors with priorities. For example, you can tell your military advisor to work on strengthening defensive capabilities, and he or she will analyze the research and production queue and adjust it so you produce the appropriate weapons and equipment. In the pre-E3 preview version that we were given, it appears that the advisors now work correctly; in an earlier version, the advisors didn't seem to have much effect.

Yet even with the advisors, Supreme Ruler is definitely geared toward the hardcore crowd. Casual gamers will most likely be put off by the sheer complexity, but serious strategy fans should be intrigued by the game's premise and setting. Supreme Ruler is scheduled to ship in the fall.

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