A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this war game takes place in the future and involves all kinds of weapons: guns, missiles, bombs, and even a nuclear weapon. However, there is no blood or close-up scenes of violence. The game has an online component, which Common Sense doesn't recommend for anyone under 12. The game requires a high-end machine, so check system requirements before buying.
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What's it about?
SUPREME COMMANDER takes place in the 37th century -- the year 3844 -- as three rival factions continue their centuries-long intergalactic war. In the single-player campaign, your goal is to end this Infinite War by choosing one of the sides and destroying its foes. As with most \"real-time strategy\" (RTS) games, you must establish a base camp, build structures, create fighting units and vehicles, and collect resources to fuel this growth. You use the map to find your enemies and fight them.
All three sides have access to Armored Command Units (ACUs), giant armored mechs piloted by a skilled person inside. The ACU you control is responsible for building armies and giving them orders. Throughout missions you can choose to enhance your ACUs with upgrades that vary depending on which side you're on. Supreme Commander also gives you access to land, sea, and air-based fighting units -- from tanks to submarines to bombers.
Is it any good?
The visual reward for launching this kind of virtual firepower is gratifying. Along with the lengthy and intense single-player campaign is a skirmish mode, in which you play against the game's artificial intelligence. There are also online head-to-head modes via the game's built-in matchmaking service.
The game provides a so-so tutorial. Another issue is steep system requirements: Minimum specs are at least a 1.8GHz processor, 512 megabytes of system memory, and 128MB of video memory, but for it to run smoothly, it's more like a 3GHz processor or better, 1GB of system memory, and 256MB of video memory with vertex and pixel shader support (if you have to ask what this is, chances are you don't have it on your video card). The game also suffers from some technical bugs, most of which are addressed with a free, downloadable patch. But serious RTS fans with a powerful PC will be more than satisfied.