Jul 4, 2013This is a very interesting game. It took many gambles with innovating on the design philosophy but I think it lost its bet. Huge problems with this game:
1. It's slow. Both in the sense of it being a semi-realistic geostrategy game (not actually a problem for fans of grand strategy games like me) and that the fastest in game speed ("fastest" funnily enough) would be considered maybe medium on any other grand strategy game. It takes perhaps 10 seconds for a day to resolve at "fastest" speed (the time unit being measured in hours so that combat can take place with player input if need be). Doesn't sound too slow but it is. When you are beginning the game and you simply want to build up an army and infrastructure, you're talking several hours of staring at progress bars. A single research project will take at least an hour to complete (and there are thousands of research projects in the game).
2. There's very little immersion. You have to suspend disbelief a great deal to enjoy this game. There's nothing guiding gameplay (the scenarios simply alter the starting conditions), no flavour events, no high level diplomacy (you can see that the designers wanted to follow this path at some point as there are mechanics for the UN in game but these are, unfortunately, pointless without some kind of dialogue). It's a great big sandbox, like an international SimCity but without any of the charm. There ARE huge reams of text for units, technologies, nation descriptions and the like, but the tiny text boxes are a chore to read the the player needs to go out of his way to find them. They do add some immersion but it doesn't form a coherent whole.
3. The interface. Tiny text boxes for descriptions, like I said, but it's also a chore to find specific information on things (and I tend to forget where I found them because the menu trees are a maze). The information IS all there, however. It's just hard to get at. Changing the map display takes a half dozen clicks, for example, whereas your average Paradox developed game (this was published by them but developed by a smaller studio) takes one, sometimes two. Want to open negotiations to buy petrol from a neighbour? You can't just click him on the map, oh no. You need to open the "state" menu, then the continent the target is located on, then hunt down the target in the 40 entry long list, then hit the negotiations button. Reinventing some of the aspects of grand strategy games is good but there's plenty that have already been ironed out, and the developer should have taken note of how Paradox have greatly improved on the interface of their games.
4. Absence/simplification of politics. It's a very liberal game, and I mean that in the Marxist sense. Capitalism has triumphed and workers are simply another input into the machinery of production. There's no real internal opposition, no trade union strikes, just a simplistic "approval rating". Ideology is one of "liberal", "moderate" or "conservative" and seems to affect very little (I'm guessing it impacts the AIs decisions on social spending). How are "liberal" and "conservative" applicable to a communist state or a military dictatorship? I'm not sure, and neither are Battlegoat Studios, because the name is as far as things seem to go there is no state/private dichotomy in the ownership of industries. Your cabinet ministers are all "neutral and polite", so minister personality must be another mechanic the developer half finished. There don't seem to be elections or internal scandals, either, so Presidents and Parliaments get the same neglect as Chairmen and Juntas. Without internal politics it's nothing more than a glorified war game.
What about the positive aspects of this game?
1. The scope of the game is impressive. Thousands of technologies? Hundreds of models of warships and aircraft accurately researched? Every nation in the world represented? These are usually the bells and whistles another game would try to add to after creating the basis, but the scope seems to have centre stage with Supreme Ruler.
2. The intricacy of the mechanics. The world market is very well thought out. Hard to actually get at the figures involved but it all makes sense once you find them. In fact the entire economic system is very good. As a product of the "end of history" it's purely based around GDP and other liberal measures of economic models rather than resource and commodity based as in Marxian-inspired Paradox games, but this adds somewhat to the atmosphere of the game.
3. Combat isn't a ridiculous rock-paper-scissors minigame, or a simple meatgrinder, but requires an overall strategy for victory. Modern conventional warfare is modelled well (although terrorism and partisan warfare are completely absent).… Expand
Supreme Ruler 2020 is a big step on from what has gone before in the series. It doesn’t stand head and shoulders above the pack, but it certainly rubs shoulders with the big boys and doesn’t come off looking cheap and a little embarrassed. It makes the job of being a psychopathic dictator just that little bit more fun.
Personally for me, the learning curve is a bit steep and the commitment too large. But that’s me – this is a great game, polished and well worked. If you have the time and the inclination the rewards on offer are great, and it’s highly unlikely to become a repetitive experience.