E3 '07: Supreme Commander Forged Alliance Impressions

This stand-alone follow-up to Supreme Commander is jam-packed with new features and enhancements.

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It hasn't taken long for Gas Powered Games to reload after February's excellent real-time strategy game Supreme Commander. Due out later this year is Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, a stand-alone follow-up that adds a new faction, 110 new units, a new campaign, and a whole lot more polish as well.

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With all the improvements and enhancements, Forged Alliance almost feels like a sequel. The graphics and visuals have been improved considerably; there's a lot more detail on units, new explosion effects and heat blur, new shaders, as well as improved performance across the board (those performance improvements have also been included in patches for the original game). The enhancements also affect artificial intelligence because we're told that if you feel comfortable beating the AI in Supreme Commander, you're going to be fighting for your life in Forged Alliance. The AI is smarter than before, but there's also an option to play with a cheating AI if you feel like giving it a handicap.

The major new addition in Forged Alliance is the Seraphim, the first alien race to be introduced in the franchise and an incredibly potent one. With a design that makes it look incredibly sleek and yet alien at the same time, the Seraphim use negative energy weapons that are unlike those used by the three human factions. The Seraphim have an undeniably stylish look to them, and all three human factions will need to form a unit to defeat them.

The 110 new units are distributed among all factions, though the Seraphim get the majority of them, of course. The United Earth Federation, Cybran Nation, and Aeon Illuminate get about 10 new units each, which includes a new experimental unit for each existing faction. We saw two of those in action. The first was the Cybran megalith, a huge unit that's twice the size of the awesome monkeylord and even scarier. This is because the megalith is amphibious and moves faster underwater than it does on land. It's also armed with 12 torpedo launchers so it can take out entire navies. It's equally scary on land and serves as a mobile factory as well, so it can basically drop new units on the battlefield. The second experimental unit revealed thus far is the Seraphim experimental bomber, a huge hit-and-run raider that delivers negative energy bombs, which are basically miniature nukes. It has some antiaircraft capability as well, so it can defend itself against fighters to some extent.

Fans of the existing factions will love many of the new additions because each faction gets units that enhance their strengths. The UEF gets new tier-three point defenses that can chew up incoming ground units, as well as new tier-three armored bots and a mobile missile launcher. The Cybran Nation gets the new brick, a tier-three bot that is armed with a torpedo launcher when underwater that is swapped out for a laser when on land. Other new Cybran units have stealth or radar jamming features.

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Click to enlarge!

All of these new features and enhancements make Forged Alliance look like a must-have for fans of Supreme Commander, but it's not hard to see newcomers becoming entranced by the game's massive scale and awesome battles. Forged Alliance is on track for release this November, and that's shaping up to be an amazing month for strategy gamers.

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