Does Supreme Commander truly reign supreme?

Supreme Commander is a solid real time strategy game with good visuals and pretty decent mechanics. It’s not without its flaws, however.

The main storyline deals with three opposing factions. The UEF (United Earth Federation), The Cybran Nation, and the Aeon Illuminate. They are all locked in a never ending battle known as the Infinite War. You can expect to spend some time on the campaign, but it ends pretty quickly. There are few missions but they can be quite lengthy. There is also multiplayer over GPGnet.sc3

The game is a bit system intensive and you’ll need to have a pretty hefty rig if you’re planning on running it smoothly at max settings, but even a good system can experience some slowdown with the massive amount of units on screen. Supreme Commander (hereby being referred to as SupCom) is mainly focused on unit quantity, rather than quality. You are given a pretty large population cap and most of the time you will need to utilize all of it to take down your enemies. It’s a bit of a far cry from games like WCIII where you have a small band of units. I’d liken it unto StarCraft, in the sense that it’s about macromanagement more than micromanagement. The economy is very import in SupCom, and if it stalls then it could leave you devastated. The developers implemented a fairly interesting resource system based around “matter” and “energy.” Energy of course provides power to buildings, defenses, shields, and helps build, while matter is used in the creation of units and structures. Matter is drawn from the ground at specific locations or generation in mass generators, which can be a strain on your power consumptions. Building a balanced and working economy is key to success in the game.

Supreme Commander boasts many unique features as well, such as the ability to play on a dual display setup. Even if you don’t have dual monitors you can create a duplicate sc2view window in game. This an interesting idea when has a lot of use in a RTS. While you are busy attacking you can easily handle base defenses and management without having to scroll across the map. Another neat thing that SupCom offers is the ability to zoom out quite a distance. You can get a large global view of the entire battlefield, switching buildings and units into iconic representation. You’ll find yourself in that perspective a lot, which is useful but not unnecessarily pretty to look at.

The game offers a wide variety of units to play with, but not much differentiates between factions. All three warring sides have pretty much the same units and buildings, only differing slightly. What sets these factions more apart is the use of “Experimental Units.” These machines of awesome power require many resources but are extremely powerful, and extremely fun to look at. SupCom has many unique offensive buildings in the game such as nuclear silos, missle launchers, cannons, etc. All of these aresc5 stationary constructions in your base but can be launched at an enemy. They all of course have their respective counter measures, but if used on an unsuspecting opponent they can ravage a base. Along with offensive structures you can acquire shields to defend your base, which are very useful but can be a bit of a drain on your energy to maintain. These tools can cause games to go on for some time. You won’t get many quick skirmishes in this game.

System Intensity and other small bugs aside, Supreme Commander is a solid title and well worth checking out if you are bored of Warcraft or just not interested in C&C3.

Impartial rating: 80/100

Fanboy rating: 84/100

GRAEV gives this game the SILVER HELM.

silverhelm

C&C3 Online games are becoming a complete joke

You get to listen to me rant for a few minutes! C&C3 gameplay online started extremely smooth and everything seemed fine, even while I was writing my initial review. Players were using their usual little tactics which were to be expected. But now things have been taken even further and it’s honestly now out of hand. Recently a new “strategy” has surfaced where you place a refinery and sell it once the harvester given is created. Then you place another and you’ve got yourself an instant harvester. Do this again and you have 4 harvesters.

So what are people doing? Abusing the refinery “strat – exploit” and whoring all the tiberium they possibly can. What do they do with this tiberium? They make nothing but tanks. Scrin, GDI, Nod, they all do the exact same flippin thing! They make tanks and more tanks. There’s no deviation in strategy, there’s no use of anything else but tanks. So you get a game of tanks cluster flucks which I guess is fun…sorta..not really.. and what’s the result? The team with the best tanks wins: GDI. GDI simply masses Mammoth tanks after massing predator tanks and then streamrolls your base. They can completely ignore your units and just destroy your buildings leaving you completely incapacitated and defeated.

How can this be fixed? Refinery’s need to be tied to their harvesters. If the refinery is sold the harvester is sold. Decrease the amount of tiberium returned to the refinery so that one 30 second trip from a harvester doesn’t pay off your entire investment. Fix the infantry! There has to be some way to make infantry beneficial in the game or what use are they? Rocket soldiers are great as long as your opponent doesn’t have anti infantry – OH WAIT – every race can make anti infantry TANKS in addition to their Anti-tank tanks. So what do you have? MORE incentive to make tanks.

What about air you ask? There’s a tank for that too! Anti-Air tanks take about 15 seconds to make. The result? Well everyone has 2 war factories and creates 2 AA in 30 seconds. The AA tanks are so strong they decimate any other you thought gave you an advantage. Don’t even get me started on the fact that Scrin tanks are effective against tanks and air. *eye roll*.

If the issues are not fixed soon then the only deciding factor in a multiplayer game will be who clicks the fastest.

We have finally finished moving!

*wipes his brow*

That took longer than expected! Well as you can see we have officially moved away from our Blogger/Blogspot domain and hosting over to our very own! Let me be the first to welcome you to the new and improved http://www.KeenAndGraev.com!

You will find many things are new here on the website and still many things that have not changed. At the top of the website right above where new blog entries appear you have two options. You can search our entire blog with a very nice search feature and you can select categories to view. That should make viewing specific information much quicker. Also please note under “Content” on the main nav bar on the left you will find a link “Ctrl+F Funny comics” where you will be able to have all of our comics with dates at titles right at your finger tips.

Moving quickly to the next topic! LOTRO is mid open beta now and we are hard at work on developing our characters for retail. As I promised videos will be released along with more adventure logs, tips, tricks, guides, maps, etc! My goal with LOTRO is to not only talk about our experiences in the game but to help make yours more enjoyable. As things stand now with the cap at level 15 not much can be done by way of guides and movies. They will be somewhat dull and unoriginal – everyone is level 15 by now, aren’t they? – but they will still be posted. After retail release of LOTRO you can expect one hell of a commotion around here as the blog moves into full swing.

LOTRO is not the only trick for this pony. Along with our Ctrl+Funny Comics (boy do we have some good ones coming for you!) we will still be reviewing and blogging other MMO’s, RTS, Action, and other gaming things.

Graev and I would like to thank those of you who visit our Blog and we hope you continue to do so. Please enjoy!

My take on each of the LOTRO classes

I decided to do a little write-up on each class to give an idea of how they are played. I will over the course of time add to this and repost any changes that I make.
Guardian – It’s a very durable class so you will not have any trouble soloing most any even/yellow/maybe orange con mobs. The DPS is the second lowest, coming in just above the minstrel. This class makes most of its attacks through the use of a shield and although you can use a 2handed weapon it’s simply not worth it.

Champion – You will need to be much more selective in what you kill. You are not as durable as the guardian but you make up for what you lack in durability with the ability to kill much MUCH faster. Using two-handed or one-handed weapons really does not matter in the long run with a Champion. The champion class is one of the most unique in that you can choose which way you want to play each day you log in. You can do some mild off-tanking with a shield, aoe lower levels, single target burst dps, and so on.

Hunter – Similar to the Champion you often need to pick and choose. However due to range and insane dps you will kill even quicker than a champion and have little trouble soloing. Some hunters choose to use bow skills even when the mob is in melee range. At the time I am writing this my high level hunter sources tell me it’s more efficient to almost never use melee weapons to melee – instead use them for stats. Really at all costs avoid any multiple mob fights. You aren’t Legolas.

Minstrel – It’s not a durable class and it has the lowest Dps in the game. However its strength lies in the ability to almost never die in an even/yellow/orange because you can heal yourself quite a bit while still having offensive abilities. Short duration buffs on that comes with your song chains will aid in your soloing ability. Finding a nice area to grind where your buffs will last you through one mob and onto the next will be the most efficient.

Captain – With the pet and plate armor and decent attacks you will have decent survivability with decent dps. It’s a very “middle road” class and offers a good deal of utility/support for group scenarios. “Jack of all trades – King of none” comes to mind here.

Lore-Master – With a pet, decent but not great dps, and a few utilities, you will find this class to be a pick and chooser as well. I don’t suggest orange cons and stay the heck away from multiple mobs. The crowd control ability is not that great and you will quickly find yourself on the losing end of an uphill battle. I prefer to play Lore-Masters in groups.

Burglar – The burglar is an interesting little class. You have dual wielding ability and traits that go along with it to improve your offhand damage. You have stealth and abilities that gain strength through the use of stealth but still work even when unstealthed. Burglars can add “bleeds” to mobs, crowd control, stun, gain life through attacks, and pretty much kick butt. While not at the DPS of a Champion or a Hunter while soloing, the Burglars DPS will shine in a group when all attacks execute from behind.

LOTRO Forum Digest 3/05

LOTRO is in Open Beta! Or will be tomorrow since right now it’s technically “Preorder Beta”. Check out the latest LOTRO Vault Forum Digest:

And so it begins! LOTRO has officially entered Pre-order Founders Beta. I could not believe the number of topics started over names! Naming policy violations, name hoarding, lore moaning, and so on. But that was not all! This week’s topics include feature requests, exploiting, and roleplaying. Oh, and one must not forget the most important topic of all: Preorder Cloaks… These topics and more brought to you all in one easy place here on the LOTRO Vault Weekly Forum Digest. Enjoy!

– The unofficial Features Wish List was posted on the Turbine boards this week. In this topic you’ll find player housing, mini-games, fishing, collectables, and more. If you have something you wish was in-game go and voice your opinions!

– No surprise here. Name hoarding has been an issue as the game heads into Open Beta. Players are finding that all their names are taken! Apparently it’s gone far enough that players are offering money for others to relinquish their names. It’s all extremely odd if you ask me. There were also a dozen other topics on names dealing with lore violations, naming policy nono’s and ugh the list goes on. I’ll leave those up to you.

– Codemasters announced the official roleplaying servers. Notice the word “servers” is plural! They will also be releasing language preferred servers due to the diverse languages spoke in Europe. This news hits hard for the North American players who have been told there will be no official roleplay server for them to call home.

– Hitting other people’s tagged mobs in LOTRO will result in less experience for the person who originally tagged the mob. This has been on the minds of many topic starters this week. Whether it be the foundation for possible harassment, a bad implementation for having others help without a penalty, or whatever it might be – it’s on the posters minds. If you want to know more about the commotion check out the topic here

– It has been found! The rare and before now only mentioned in legend… Fallen Star of Gil-Galad! The 4th Preorder cloak!!! Okay I got that out of my system. If you’re one of those people out there simply obsessed with having every pre-order cloak then the search is on once again! Where is it from? How can I get one? These questions may or may not be answered in this thread. *cryptic*

Screenshots Galore: MeanKeenLurikeen and Obsideus! A shameless plug for the wonderful adventures posted on the LOTRO Vault. If you have any screenshots you would like to share with us then please submit them! If you’re like me and you blog your adventures feel free to include a link to your website as well.

Fair Play in Monster Play – Is there such a thing? No spies, No fixed fights… basically no cheating I guess. An interesting topic on the Turbine Monster Play board like this has already come? I did not expect this for at least 2 more months. Part of me feels perhaps this is too preemptive but perhaps starting early will get Turbine into the right stage of mind. It could be an interesting discussion. Check it out.

Why I play a Human. I laughed out loud to some of the replies on this one.

Keep those forums active LOTRO fans! If you come across a topic you feel the LOTRO Forum Digest should highlight please feel free to send me an email or PM me here on the vault.

Keen’s C&C3: Tiberium Wars Review

Since the days of Warcraft 2 and Age of Empires I have been a RTS fan. There’s something I find irresistible in the concept of building a civilization or army and sending it into battle just to watch it get blown apart – okay I’m weird. The most recent RTS that I can honestly say held my attention the longest was Warcraft 3: Blizzard’s last great game; don’t get me started. Ever since the game’s decline (WoW’s release) I have found myself searching for my much needed fix.

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars has come to my rescue. It’s been forever since I touched a C&C game! I don’t count Generals.. I’m not sure why. So here I am on release day and I’ve got the game installing. It suddenly dons on me – this is an EA game. Can Electronic Arts revive an age old masterpiece of the genre or will they leave it to rot and die like so many other things they’ve touched? In my review I hope to give you the answers to those questions and more.

Presentation and Overall “ooo aah” factor: C&C3 has an amazing menu. Everything is there: Campaign, Multiplayer(Network, Online), Skirmish, Options(Wide screen support!!!), you name it it’s there. Let me talk about the wide screen support for a minute. EA’s last RTS if you can remember was Battle for Middle-Earth 2 and it had zilch support for wide screen monitors. Nothing made me more po’d than the fact that my 22” monitor could not showcase the large battles of Middle-Earth. Anyway back to the review. To cut it short C&C3 has fantastic customization options for video, sound, and so on.

Campaign: Remember what the series is famous for? Live action cutscenes! They are back and better than ever. Actors such as Michael Ironside as the GDI Gen. Jack Granger, Billy Dee Williams as Lando…err I mean GDI Director Edmond Boyle, Tricia Helfer as Kilian Qatar, and Grace Park as Lt. Sandra Telfair make the cutscenes really something to pay attention to.

The campaign storyline is nothing short of fantastic. Given the choice of GDI and Nod your playtime will be lengthy. I won’t ruin the story for you but when you beat both campaigns you get a nice surprise.

Something else worth mentioning about the campaign is the medal system. For different difficulties and objective completions you are given a medal and perhaps something more if you obtain all gold. *hint hint*

Multiplayer: Heck yeah! My favorite part of RTS games is the chance to annihilate another player! The first thing you notice is obvious and blatantly staring you right in the face. EA’s BFME2 multiplayer interface is back. Perhaps they’re adopting this system as their norm and who could blame them.. but.. don’t you think it would be a good idea to fix the bugs before implementing it into another game? There’s been 3-4 patches within the past few days already and players are still CTD’ing, getting disconnected in the lobby, and being inconvenienced by the clunky interface.

If you can look past these annoyances which truly are that and nothing more then you have yourself a superb multiple RTS. Players choose from GDI, Scrin, and Nod. Cheap tactics are still the key to winning online matches. Massing predators and rushing, Nod’s stealth detonating buildings, and other usual tactics are all found. However something that is somewhat slowly creeping under my skin is the Scrin’s unbalanced units. Massing “carriers ala StarCraft, massing basic units and flooding your base ala Zerg, and other purely annoying tactics make some matches simply lopsided. Luckily few people play them correctly leaving the Scrin very vulnerable.

Overall: Overall C&C3: Tiberium wars is great. There’s nothing that would stop me from recommending it to fans of the series. In fact there’s so many things done right that I really hope if you are still undecided about the game that you pick it up and give it a chance.

If for no other reason, do it for Lando.

LOTRO: Our Adventure in Chetwood

As our adventure in the Combe area comes to a close…

Keen and Graev are the 2nd and 3rd to reach level 10 on Silverlode (curse you Judge!) and ready to head out into another phase of questing.

In the ruins of Chetwood Forest an eerie darkness has covered the landscape. The atmosphere continues to change as we near the storyline quest objective.

More Keen and Graev fight shots!

As we approach the quest objective, Jaggar Jack, we are confronted with what looks to be a very menacing looking smokestack. Jack and his Anghmaran Warriors were no match for our abilities! We decide it would be a good time to return to Combe and take a lunch break.

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