Reviewed: April 13, 2005
Reviewed by: Tyler Whitney

Matrix Games

Black Hammer Game

Released: March 9, 2005
Genre: Strategy
Players: 2


System Requirements

  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 800Mhz Intel or AMD CPU
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 64 MB 3D Video Card
  • 16 bit DirectX Sound Card
  • CD-ROM
  • 500MB Free Hard Drive Space
  • DirectX 9 or higher

    Screenshots (Click Image for Gallery)

  • Matrix games has really been pumping out a wealth of strategy tiles of late, and utilizing one of the hottest methods for delivery - direct download - they are making a name for themselves in the industry. Teaming up with another smallish development team of Black Hammer Games, they have brought us a throwback turn-based strategy game with oodles of sci-fi goodness. But does Supremacy: 4 Paths to Power stand up against its competition?

    Supremacy: 4 Paths to Power features:

    • Tactical combat in space and on planetary surfaces
    • Over 40 unique units, including suicide bombers, flamethrowers and massive mechs
    • Adaptive AI that will constantly challenge your strategies
    • Robust multiplayer allows players to find and challenge each other
    • Over 35 unique maps with map editor functionality supported
    • Customize the game to better suit your preferences
    • 4 unique Commanding Officers provide increased replayability
    • Full in-game help system makes the game easy to learn but difficult to master

    You have the option of four different factions as they all vie for supremacy in a future galaxy. There are several game modes to be found; standard conquest mode where you attempt to take over all the planet’s in a system, a king of station mode where you focus on space station control and lastly a body count mode, where the more you kill, the higher your score will climb.

    The action takes place in space and on the ground, with a wide assortment of units to choose from, such as deadly snipers to vast space faring capital ships that bring some serious firepower to battles. Each of these units has been smartly balanced, not one can really survive without support, especially the infantry who rely greatly on medics. Each of the four factions also share the same unit types, once again adding to the balance yet adding to the monotony.

    The map is divided in grids for movement, and can be frustrating at times when unable to complete your objective because you have to maneuver around your units or obstacles. These elements are also carried through in space combat, but it still feels like your playing on a flat plane despite the 3-dimensional nature of space.

    Once you have gained control of particular planets, you can build factories to harvest the required resources to propel your war machine onward. Be careful to watch maintenance cost and strain on the planet though, as the latter could result in a cataclysmic explosion. Story-wise, there isn’t much to be had here, which for purists of combat and tactics may enjoy, but personally I would have like a more fleshed out storyline.

    The A.I. is also lacking, and perhaps is the weakest area of the game, not good when the meat of the game is in single player. It seems very random and chaotic, and thus falls prey to the standard “mass and move” technique made so popular in RTS of late (often referred to as “zerging”). If you can advance enough of your troops into a concentrated area, you can overwhelm the computer easily.

    *singing “Lets do the time warp again!” It appears we have traveled back into the late 90's era of graphics with this sucker, reminding me of a beefed up Metal Marines in style. While everything is modeled in 3D, from the flora to your units, the lack of detail is apparent. You can rotate your camera around thankfully, and can zoom into the action if needed.

    The visuals are blocky and clunky looking, and animation is sparse at best. However, most fans of strategy games aren’t into hi-tech visuals, they play mainly for the game play and feel of the game. Sadly though, you won’t find much of either in this title.

    Black Hammer did a decent job with the sound and music. The music doesn’t infringe on the game play, staying nicely atmospheric and in the background. It changes with the action as well, from movement phases to all out attacks.

    The sound effects of the various units are pretty solid as well, although uninspired. Surprisingly, even the voice acting holds up, aside from a few wonky lines here and there.

    The online play for two players will provide some good battles between you and a buddy, as well as the three gameplay modes, but overall the title is lacking in long-term playability, although future expansion packs may help. Upon further research, the online community doesn’t appear too strong, so don’t look for many random people to play with; this isn’t Gamespy Arcade or anything. The units are too generic, the A.I. too simplistic and the different commanders too similar to really extend the life of this game past a few months.

    With a direct download price of $25, this ain’t a bad deal. But you have to ask yourself if you would rather spend a bit more of your hard-earned cash on some of the more developed games, such as Homeworld or even simpler yet flashier real-time-strategy titles such as the classic Starcraft and Command and Conquer games. All in all, Supremacy: 4 Paths to Power is a decent turn-based strategy game in a market deluged with RTS madness.