Supreme Commander

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yes, that's two entire fleets duking it out.

Supreme Commander is a real-time strategy video game that has been hailed as the Spiritual Successor to Total Annihilation, which is not surprising as they are both designed by Chris Taylor. Set in The Future, man has used quantum tunnels or portals that are opened from the fabric of space leading to a designated location that can be light-years away. Earth is unified into the Earth Empire and man starts to explore and colonize the stars with the development of this technology. Then it all goes sour.

The first nail in the coffin of this golden age is the Cybrans, humans enhanced with cybernetic implants-the chief one being having their brain merged with an advanced AI computer in a process patented by Dr. Gustav Brackman. Unfortunately, the Earth Empire treats the Cybrans more like slaves then real people which is something the Cybrans and their father figure Brackman don't particularly like. So Brackman and a group of followers rebel, set up their own country - the Cybran Nation - and start waging a guerrilla war to liberate their fellow Cybrans.

The next and probably biggest nail in the coffin of the Earth Empire is the formation of the Aeon Illuminate, that got founded when human colonists on one planet ran into alien intelligent life, the Seraphim. See, the Seraphim had a peaceful and advanced society, complete with a quasi-Buddhist philosophy they called The Way which they shared with the human colonists. Unfortunately, the local Imperial military commander overreacted, and caused the genocide of the Seraphim with a bioweapon. The Seraphim's human cohorts didn't like that too much, formed the Aeon Illuminate and pretty much told the rest of the galaxy to join or die.

Then, the Earth Empire collapses and is reformed into the United Earth Federation. And then you have a thousand year long three sided war being waged by these factions. These are the events leading up to the first game. Then the expansion pack, Forged Alliance, comes out and we find out the Seraphim are actually Not Quite Dead. The colony that was destroyed was only a very small fraction of the entire Seraphim race. Naturally, they are pissed at what happened to their colony and proceed to attack humanity. This causes the Aeon Illuminate to break in two with one faction siding with the Seraphim and the other forming an alliance with the other two human factions to stop the Seraphim in their tracks.

It was followed in 2010 by Supreme Commander 2.

Tropes used in Supreme Commander include:
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Czar, an Aeon experimental unit based off the alien ships from Independence Day (core laser included), is one of these, being able to not only carry aircraft but also produce them. The factory feature is shared by all aircraft carriers in the game, including the UEF submersible aircraft carrier experimental, but only the Aeon version is airborne.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The Seraphim units have their names in the Seraphim language, and their commanders even taunt you in their language. It even appears to be a well thought-out language - several Seraphim names have reccuring fragments, such as the use of "Ya" for economy facilities. On top of that, even not knowing what they're saying, you can just tell that they're taunting you through tone of voice.
    • The aversion continues even after Brackman is able to devise some Translator Microbes for the player, as you can hear their native language in the background as you listen to their translated words.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Bots, Armored Command Units (ACU), and support commanders (sACU).
  • Artificial Stupidity: Direct-fire units sometimes ignore little things like mountains between them and their target, and will sit plinking away at it forever.
    • On island-based skirmish maps, the AI will usually build huge numbers of low level ground units that do nothing except die in the inevitable naval bombardment. Weird, since the game features a very user-friendly method of setting up complex ferry operations with air transports. But the AI never uses it outside of scripted missions, where the air transports spawn loaded.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Commander Units live and breath this trope. How many Real Life military commanders ride around in a mech that can lay waste to an entire country and at the same time construct an entire army, navy, and air force within a few hours all by themselves?
    • That said, in direct combat they'll have trouble with tier-3 units and expermentals will kill them.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The "game ender" experimental units, usually oversized superweapons which take ENORMOUS amounts of resources to build and have paper-thin armor. In the time it takes you to build them, conventional weapons could have wiped out your enemy twice over. And if you do build them, expect your (human) enemy to come down on you hard in desperation.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: A lot of the more reasonably-priced experimental units, especially the Cybran Monkeylord and the Seraphim Ythotha.
  • Base on Wheels: The Fatboy combines the functions of a superheavy tank, a top-tier land unit factory, a shield generator, an artillery battery, and an air staging station. And it can go underwater.
  • BFG: Numerous examples, of which the most impressive are probably the beam weapons on the experimental bots (nonchalantly sweep beam across line of enemy units, whole line dies), the super-long-range artillery cannons (capable of slaughtering advancing armies to a bot well before they are in sight of your base), and of course the nukes - game-enders capable of turning entire bases into clouds of scrap.
    • Worth special mention is the Serraphim experimental nuke launcher, whose nukes destroy about a quarter of a medium map, including experimentals with the most ludicrous amount of health, and to top it all off, takes 2 anti-nuke missiles to destroy while building nukes about 5 times faster than anti-nuke missiles can be made.
    • The UEF Mavor was previously the biggest and remains the biggest gun in the expansion. It's a nuclear artillery piece.
  • Bigger Is Better: Leaves a larger explosion too.
  • Black and White Morality: The expansion casts all three of the human factions as heroic defenders of the human race against genocidal Scary Dogmatic Aliens and their cultist lackeys.
  • Brain In a Jar: Dr. Gustav Brackman.
  • Brick Joke: The Aeon T1 Anti-air unit is called the Thistle. The Seraphim T1 Anti-air unit is called the Ia-istle. Hmm...
  • Church Militant: The Aeon Illuminate.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Goes a long way to describing the look of the Aeon Illuminate.
  • Cyberpunk: The Cybrans' hat.
  • Easy Logistics: Units typically don't require fuel or ammunition (save aircraft, which typically have enough fuel that it never comes into play and can regenerate fuel by landing even if you don't bother building air staging), there are no supply lines from resources to factories, and all aircraft are VTOLs which can land on any solid ground. The ACU itself is an extreme example, since it can build and operate an entire military without additional resources of any kind.
    • Planes will not automatically land and recharge if you've given them any order (such as patrolling or attacking) unless there's a staging facility nearby. Similarly, a large number of structures (and units) either require power to operate at all or have additional features that require power to run. As such, a logistical strike against your enemy's power economy will result in shields dropping, some base defense going offline, no radar, stealth and cloaked units popping up for the enemy, and units that suddenly lack their warming layer of personal shielding.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Aeon. expect to find yourself smack-dab in the middle by campaign 3.
  • The Eternal Churchill: The expansion is about the united factions' last stand against extinction.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Rhianna Burke, whom even the other faction leaders come to admire in the expansion.
  • Everything Fades: Averted in the same way as Total Annihilation, although there was one considerable step back in that destroyed ships don't leave reclaimable sunken wrecks any more. Considering that ships cost much more mass per unit than land or air units, this was a pretty big omission.
  • Expansion Pack: Forged Alliance, a stand-alone expansion, in fact.
  • The Faceless / Featureless Protagonist: None of the player characters have features, with the exception of gender (Aeon is clearly female, the other two male). The Cybran and Aeon characters are wearing helmets when they're seen, and the UEF character is only mentioned while he's entering his ACU. You learn that the Cybran character is Brackman's clone, though, so one can reasonably guess at his appearance from that.
    • Averted in the sequel, with the player characters actually having backstories.
  • Faction Calculus:
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The Seraphim love this trope.
  • Flying Saucer: The Czar, an Aeon flying aircraft carrier with a giant ground torching laser.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Applied to most single-target units, but not applied to anything that does Splash Damage, so it's pretty easy to accidentally lose your base if you don't set your mobile artillery to passive mode.
  • Freud Was Right: The UEF's Mavor artillery gun. It even extends a telescoping barrel while firing.
    • The Cybran version does that too, but with six barrels. Squick.
  • Game Mod: Some really excellent ones, but the most notable is probably 'Phantom' which is a free-for-all mode where 1-3 players are randomly and secretly designated 'Phantoms' and given a considerable resource bonus. The non-Phantoms (Innocents) have to identify the Phantoms and kill them for the Innocents "team" to win, while each Phantom as an individual has to be the last man standing. A really good Phantom player can misdirect the innocents into killing of each other and the other Phantoms before turning on the survivors and finishing them with his superior production.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Subverted with experimental units, which are generally as powerful as described if they are successfully built, but played straight with the supposedly advanced Seraphim (due to game balancing involved when making them a playable side).
    • Possibly justified for the Seraphim. The humans have been in a war with constantly-advancing weapons for a thousand years between times they are encountered while the Seraphim were living peacefully, so the gap simply closed in the intervening time. That said, individual Seraphim units are generally more powerful than any of the human equivalents, but cost more.
    • Played straight with the opening cutscene of Forged Alliance. An ACU, especially a UEF ACU, doesn't have NEARLY that much firepower in direct combat with T2 units, while Clarke's T3 Titan bots should have done better against those T2 Seraphim Ilshavohs, even with their superior numbers.
  • Glass Cannon: Just about every artillery unit, several experimental units including the UEF Mavor, the Cybran Scathis and the Aeon Czar, as well as regular units such as the Sprite Striker, Usha-Ah, and Aurora.
  • Gray and Grey Morality / Black and Gray Morality / Morality Kitchen Sink: There is no clear good or bad faction in Supreme Commander. The three factions are made up of good and bad people with different beliefs and ideals, and they all think they're right. Just like Real Life.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: General Clarke in the expansion opening and Princess Rhianna in the expansion ending.
  • Humongous Mecha: Chris Taylor likes this one. About half the ground units fall into this category, though they aren't really humongous (relatively speaking). The really large, and most iconic ones are the Cybran Nation's Monkeylord spider-bot walker and the Aeon Illuminate's Galactic Colossus sacred assault bot.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: The UEF. Their Tier 2 and 3 generators are fusion plants, and their commander mech can be fitted with a backpack missile silo, which can hold one nuke and one counter-missile. They also have a T-4 superheavy artillery that shoots nuke bullets.
  • Instant Win Condition: The default game mode is assassination - the player who loses their ACU is out. The end of the Forged Alliance campaign is a fairly straightforward example of this trope.
  • Kill All Humans:
    • The Aeon commander Avatar Marxon believes that all non-Aeon humans are irredeemable abominations that must be cleansed for humanity to reach utopia.
    • The Seraphim believe that all humans, including the ones that side with them, must be cleansed. Seraphim commanders even go so far as to permanently cut themselves off from The Way, since otherwise they would be incapable of violence. That probably means they have to kill themselves too once they're done killing everyone else.
    • The fact that they can no longer Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence is seen as price enough. They just keep fighting until they die and don't even get into paradise for their trouble, so it's seen as a Heroic Sacrifice by the rest of the Seraphim.
  • Kill Sat: One of the UEF's experimental weapon systems.
  • Knight Templar: Avatar Marxon
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Fletcher, whose entire battle strategy (and seemingly entire build tree) consists of nothing but Fatboys being sent into the enemy base. And you have to protect this Jerkass.
    • You do however get to kick his ass on the last mission in the expansion campaign. There is much rejoicing.
  • Master Computer: QAI, complete with Creepy Monotone and Turned Against Their Masters.
  • Mecha-Mooks: All the units except the commanders.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Again, Chris Taylor seems to like this one. This is the concept behind most experimental units, which are built to fill several niches at once. The ultimate example is the UEF Fatboy: an amphibious land battleship with an area-covering shield that is capable of constructing its own support force.
  • Mobile Factory: the Fatboy.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Ranks somewhere in the middle.
  • More Dakka: Experimental Units can have up to ten weapons firing at once.
  • Nanomachines: Building macroscopic objects in minutes, no less.
  • Nerf: GPG apparently believe nerfing the Broadsword heavy gunship is roughly as important as breathing.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Practically the entire first game.
    • All three endings. They all seem to be canon-ish, too, except for how all three commanders got off the planet.
  • Non-Entity General
    • In the case of the Cybrans, Dr. Brackman calls all Cybrans "my children" and always refers to you as "my boy". The credits reveal he means that last part literally: you are his clone.
  • Obvious Beta: Supreme Commander was heavily promoted as a DirectX 10 showcase, with unit creation and mapmaking tools both promised. In the end, the game featured none of these things out of the box, with promises of a major patch -- as time went on, it became clear this too wouldn't happen. The game also included faction balance issues that had been identified in the Beta, dodgy pathfinding, poor optimisation and a raft of bugs.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Forged Alliance addressed issues with artillery hitting aircraft by making aircraft tougher than tanks. This meant that a tank column could have serious problems destroying a single parked plane.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The UEF follow this aesthetic.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Way.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: The Aeon Illuminate has strategic bombers which drop 'quark bombs'.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Princess, if you would like to prove to that UEF commander that you want to save those civilians, you should point to the fact that your champion is right now defending them from all attacks, instead of trying to use your soothing voice to try to convince him you mean no harm.
    • He was quite obviously insane, as he started shelling those civilians just because you were protecting them.
  • The Quisling: Evaluator Kael breaks away from the Aeon and forms her own faction called the Order of the Illuminate and allies withe Seraphim. She hopes to help the Seraphim in wipping out the Coalation in hopes to become the leader of the remains of humanity. But they already plan on killing her when their reinforcements arrive.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: So the biggest gun in the game, the pride of the UEF arsenal, is the Mavor, a gigantic artillery piece that can lob shells just over 81 km - the length of the biggest maps. Sounds impressive and futuristic, right? The Germans topped this in 1918.
    • Made even better by the gun in question, mistakenly called Big Bertha by the French, receiving a Shout-Out in the previous game.
    • The Mavor, however, is the most precise artillery piece in the game, and barely misses its targets. Granted, after 1000 years of war they should be able to do better, but it's still quite a feat compared to the T3 artillery which usually hit everything around your target instead of the target itself.
  • Real Time Strategy: One of the better strategy video games out there.
  • Ridiculously-Fast Construction
    • The UEF/Cybran factories work like several large laser printers attached together.
  • Robot War: All of the four factions units, with the exception of the titular Commanders, are AI war machines.
    • And the occasional Support Commander you can call in once you build a Quantum Gate.
  • Saintly Church: The Way, depending on who the preacher is. Reaches Religion of Evil levels in some hands, and the two sides fight civil wars in both games.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Aeon were founded when the first follower of The Way saw a vision of a future where star systems were stripped and destroyed with incalculable loss of life. As a direct consequence, a thousand years of total war followed, ending with the development of a planet-killing weapon.
  • Rule of Cool: Several All of the units embody this trope.
  • Slap-On-The-Wrist Nuke: Averted. The nukes are devastating.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Seraphim, and then you have the Aeon Illuminate, scary dogmatic humans.
  • Sequel Hook: The endings in both games.
  • Serial Escalation: This game is HUGE. As in, FIVE OR MORE times than the largest maps in any other RTS. For example, you could be playing in the Forged Alliance campaign and realize the map is a small fraction before the AI says "Operation Area Expanded", and realize there's still hidden areas. On average, the game says that line twice.
  • Spider Tank: The Cybran Monkeylord and Megalith. The latter can even lay eggs as a bizarre unit construction method.
    • They even have land-capable Spider destroyers.
  • Spiritual Successor: Chris Taylor, the brains behind Total Annihilation wanted to make a sequel but didn't own the rights on TA. Supreme Commander was the result.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: A few of the campaign missions conclude as a failure if you kill the enemy commander by flanking them instead of punching through their units in an open attack (the very first expansion mission is like this, exploiting a hole in the enemy commander's defenses to assassinate him is a loss if you bypass his experimentals). Made worse in that advisor characters will encourage you to use that kind of tactic at other times.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Samantha Clarke in the opening cutscene of Forged Alliance. She refuses to recall, despite it only taking a few seconds for her ally Dostya to do so, to try and buy more time for the evac ship to get away. Even after the ship is shot down, she can only stare at the enemy ACU as it levels its gun at her and destroys her with one shot.
    • Might not have been deliberate; that system has been shown to malfunction before. Leopard11 gets screwed by it breaking on him in the original's UEF Mission 1, letting the player kill him.
  • Tank Goodness
  • The Federation: The Cybran Nation is the only faction whose long-term goal is not to completely conquer the other two factions, but that doesn't mean they don't do some pretty nasty stuff.
    • This actually is in keeping with the standard disunity that characterizes The Federation in most settings. The core of the Cybrans are the least malicious of the groups in the setting, but because they stress individual freedom far more than the other two sides (they are separated into individual "nodes" that operate semi-autonomously and occasionally come into conflict with one another) they have trouble exercising any real control over their more radical elements, which eventually comes back to bite them in the Expansion Pack in the form of the traitorous Seven Hand Node. Understandable, considering that they are not so much a "nation" like the others as a loose coalition of people who the others seek to enslave (in the case of the UEF) or outright exterminate (the Aeon and the Seraphim) with little in common in terms of ideals.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Cybran Campaign. Dr. Brackman, creator of the Symbionts, calls all Symbionts "his children" and refers to the player as "my son". The debriefing at the end of the campaign reveals that he's being literal about the son thing - you are his clone.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Averted to the point of lampshading. Not only can you play the map from the main trailer (it's Seton's Clutch), the wreckage from the battle in the trailer is present.
    • Though it still lies, featuring UEF bots firing homing missiles from a launcher that was removed in the final game, an Atlantis with the similarly canned retracting SAM launchers, and a Monkeylord dealing crush damage to friendly units.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Stealth isn't useless at first, but it is once the enemy build Omni-Sensors that see through both stealth (can't be spotted on radar) and cloaking (can't be spotted visually), it really loses a lot of its appeal. The Omni stealth-detecting range is significantly shorter than its standard radar, but it's enough to keep you from getting inside a base easily.
    • More to the point, whereas many games have stealth units, Supreme Commander utilities stealth field generators, allowing you to sneak an engineer or two behind enemy lines and build your own stealth base.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Aeon and Seraphim's justification for waging their respective campaigns.
  • Units Not to Scale: Mostly averted. An infantry bot is realistically smaller then a main battle tank, and downright puny when placed next to one of the super-units. Plus, the maps can be as large as 81 virtual kilometers, making even the most massive units seem tiny.
    • It should be noted that said 'infantry bots' are actually about 12 meters tall.
    • Though aircraft carriers, as ever, play this trope straight, being nowhere near large enough to contain the dozens of aircraft they carry.
    • Super-units with the "Massive" trait will crush small units that get too close, instantly destroying them. In this case the Friendly Fireproof trope is in force - the tiniest of friendly units are unharmed by the passage of such a unit, while larger-but-still-relatively-small enemy units suffer heavy damage or are destroyed instantly. (This protection doesn't apply once the super unit starts firing, however.)
  • Verbal Tic: Doctor Brackman's "Oh yes..."
  • Wave Motion Gun: Experimental units. T3 Artillery.
  • We Have Reserves: With the right amount of Mass and Energy (in other words, basically anything you can grab), there's no limit to the amount of times you can replace your forces. They aren't even living things, either, just robots, making them that much more expendable.
    • Lampshaded in the slogan of this trailer: "In every battle, only one casualty matters."
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Black Sun, which can be used to spread devastation, a powerful computer virus, or peace and love throughout the galaxy. Its builders were aiming for the devastation.
    • The latter 2 options only used the quantum acces part of the weapon though, and probably with some slight modifications.
  • Weapon of Peace: Various Aeon weapons, and the Cybran Liberator.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Uses the same flow system of resources as Total Annihilation did, only with mass replacing metal.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Which faction holds the Sanity Ball and is surrounded by omnicidal maniacs is decided only by your choice of said faction. If you play for the UEF, the Cybrans are psychopathic terrorists plotting to destroy what semblance of order and stability the Federation provides. If you play for the Cybrans, the UEF consists entirely of General Rippers out to slaughter and enslave everyone who doesn't fit with their racist vision of humanity. An Aeon Player sees the worst of both. In addition, almost all non-player Aeon commanders are Omnicidal Maniacs even in the Aeon campaign (where this leads to civil war).
  • Zerg Rush: Given how easy it is to build literally a dozen Tech 1 land factories and have them all pump out T1 mobile artillery or tanks, expect to see a lot of this. On the popular Seton's Clutch multiplayer map, the front position players usually have to zerg or die. The viability of this tactic is actually a holdover from Total Annihilation, where it was absurdly easy to swamp an uninitiated player (or default 'Hard' AI) with T1 anything. A common workaround is for all players to agree on a self-imposed 'no-rush' timer.
    • An especially good tactic for Aeon players on maps with a lot of water. Their basic T1 tanks are amphibious.
    • The game rules actually discourage mindlessly Zerg rushing with Tech 1 units. Individual units gain "Veterancy Bonuses" once they score enough kills, which increases their max HP and regeneration speed, which is very bad when said unit is an Experimental.
    • On the other hand, a single Cybran T2 turret can hold off an entire tank rush single-handedly, if you can get it up fast enough.