Reviewed: June 27, 2005
Released: May 10, 2005
Also runs on Mac OS X and Linux
Supreme Ruler 2010 is a hefty strategy title published by industry veteran Strategy First (WW2online, Europa Universalis and Disciples, to name a few) and newcomer Battlegoat Studios. One night I was in serious need of some strategy action; after getting my butt handed to me in several multiplayer games, I felt the need to micromanage (read: CONTROL) troops, resources etc. Looked around a bit and found a demo for Supreme Ruler 2010, and thought “WOW this is what I was looking for.” And lo and behold a few weeks later I get the full game sent to my desk. I started off with a little appetizer and ended up with a 7 course meal-this game is MASSIVE to say the least.
Very few games combine elements of resource, warfare and political management, but this meaty sucker has oodles of that, and utilizes some easy to use tools to boot. I played a game awhile back by the name of Superpower, and it combined many of the aspects of this title, but it played out like 3D CIA fact book-ugh. Sadly, it shares many of the issues that plague Supreme Ruler 2010 as well. At least the nukes were cool crisscrossing the globe resulting in a “Nuclear Winter.” (As an aside, it would be interesting to see a game RIGHT after a nuke hit, and how one would survive) So, needless to say, I had high hopes for the full version of this game.
Taking place in 2010 after the Presidential Elections, and pretty much all hell breaks loose. Apparently all the states succeeded, impoverished countries are in even worse straights and worldwide panic ensues. Even the UN disbanded, being replaced by the “World Market.” You have a choice of over 200 countries to lead out this mess, and it’s a challenge indeed.
I highly recommend the tutorial mode to break you in, and to help understand the concepts. If going through those steps doesn’t help much, then the beefy, 150-page manual should help. Be warned though, this requires a LOT of reading, but if you even remotely enjoy these games, that shouldn’t be a problem for you armchair rulers. Please don’t just rush into this game either, or the ensuing frustration will turn you off. Patience is rewarded.
After you learn the ropes, you can choose from pre-set scenario modes, and even some expansive user created ones, as well as slightly different single player missions that focus on a goal. For example you may be tasked with piecing Canada back together, or reclaiming the holy lands of Arab/Israel, both of which can be accomplished not just through force, as I will discuss later.
However, most of the hardcore strategy fans will sink their teeth into the much deeper campaign mode. You will start with a small area to control, complete with certain goals to achieve to pass the levels and continue to take over more land; resulting in world-wide domination. You have panels EVERYWHERE on the UI, from your minister’s reports to approval ratings. Don’t panic though, this system is fairly intuitive and after messing around with it for a few hours, it should be second nature. All I felt missing was my secretary bringing me ample amounts of coffee and donuts.
Speaking of your ministers, these handy “automations” really smooth out the details, you can set certain agendas and your council will see to it without fail. They range from Treasury, State and Defense Departments, not to mention Military Operations and Domestic/Commercial affairs. Basically everything a real, live breathing country would have to contend with.
These orders are handled fairly simply in a tier type menu system; you open up one sub-level after another until your satisfied, listing details like social security spending, annual R&D budget, tech level and other fine details. Some ministers not performing up to your expectations? Give them the boot and look for another in a wide list that features personality and general background details like political stance (Liberal/Conservative) that could bring in increased productivity to your burgeoning land. You decide your diplomatic stance with the World Market and neighboring countries, how you invest your resources (military/social services) or just sit back and build up a massive army and rule with an iron, despotic fist.
Each particular strategy has its pros and cons, and should be thought about before rashly invading countries or cutting all your support for social functions. I personally favored allowing as much automation as possible, while focusing on the military strategy and the connected technology trees for R&D. I don’t like doing my taxes, so why should I do them in Supreme Ruler 2010? Thankfully, you don’t.
If you are the callous, military lover I know some of you are, there are a plethora of options here for you. There are nearly 2,000 units that are ranked in areas such as attack, defense, travel speed, cargo and a host of others- turn “Jane’s” combat guides into coloring books. I favored an air domination route in most of my engagements; they strike fast/hard, are difficult to bring down, but also are more expensive than a mass of infantry divisions.
You can’t really go wrong though with a mixed strength of armor, infantry and air power. Better yet, throw some tactical nukes into the mix and you really have an army to fear. All this can get pretty confusing shifting through your forces, both in the field and garrisoned units. I almost wish they wouldn’t have been so detailed in their recreation of the industrial military complex, especially when you consider the other levels of detail already present. But I suppose Battlegoat realizes that actions speak louder than words diplomatically speaking, and the “real world” has hardly been peaceful in any day and age. As long as you can roll over your neighbors with force, this will continue for centuries to come.
Now, all these tools are pretty much useless if your opponent can’t compete, so how does that all-important AI stack up you ask? Overall, pretty decent, considering the complexity present. You can get yourself into some sticky situations by attacking neutral countries usually; a lot of their supposed non-existent allies come to their aid (shadow allies lets say), which always ruins anyone’s plan for conquest.
Sadly you can’t always broker the right kind of deal for peaceful solutions either. I usually had to add an exorbitant amount of cash to each deal to make it pass, even though it could have been the trading of some equally matched technological goods or resources. This once again reaffirms my stance of hasty military action, because frankly, Michigan should have traded me those DAMN missiles for 50 tons of wheat…As a result, the residents of Lansing had a few unpleasant weeks filled with tanks, planes and infantry divisions slogging through their backyard.
The enemy commanders also seem a bit daft at times, although they fair better than their diplomatic counterparts. They seem to expose your weak spots and also aren’t afraid to squash any incursion into their respective lands with deadly force. Several times I was sent packing and they pursued into my own territory. The seized a chunk of land and cities while my crippled forces regrouped. It is an extremely ambitious endeavor to recreate the intricacies of world politics, and Battlegoat has done a solid job in that regard.
Graphically, the game gets the job done. Everything is in 2D here, so don’t expect C&C Generals visuals. The units/buildings and overall textures are simple, cartoony even. Action effects are a few minimal explosions and whatnot, very under whelming. But the real satellite imagery brings home the geography of your particular nation and neighbors. I used to love to just flip through map books and stare at the terrain features, borders etc. Something about that is just plain fun, to be able to “see” your world around you like that. Maps = cool.
At times the UI can be a bit busy with several menu functions for your various ministers, bases and units. Thankfully there are certain filters and the details and wording are small, yet succinct. Note: The wording doesn’t SCALE accordingly with regard to screen resolution, so be aware if you want to run it higher than the standard settings.
This game will not break the crappiest of systems either, and after all, “real” strategy fans don’t give a hoot about the graphics. Rather, they care about the solid, core gameplay-something Supreme Ruler 2010 has in spades.
Not surprisingly, like the graphics, Battegoat decided not to invest much in the audio presentation. Now that’s not a total loss but some semblance of orchestral or a computer-generated beat would have been nice. Something rousing military music would have been perfect. Perhaps integrate real national anthems for the various countries or other music throughout the game, if they could get the geography down, why not the musical ambience?
As far as sound effects go, units and other installations make very generic noises that won’t blow you away. Overall, a VERY sparse offering here.
Like most strategy titles, they are very deep on value, and Supreme Ruler 2010 fits that image perfectly. With numerous scenarios, outcomes and play styles, you can spend months crafting your empire. Not to mention any other modifications/expansions that breathe further life into this title. They did come out with a 1.2 update that addresses some wonky diplomatic A.I., but I can’t tell much of a difference personally.
You can go at it via LAN or online play with 16 others, and proves for some interesting dynamics to say the least. The human opponents can be very shady, and much more tactical than the simplistic AI, so be warned. All the solo levels and settings are incorporated but the single player is not usable online. I also had trouble finding games online and had to look for an outside browser tool to find games, or you could just connect via direct IP with some known addresses, perhaps some friends have the same passion as you do. These games can drag on for a while so be prepared to commit some time to online play.
This title represents a ton of commitment and hard work, and I commend Battlegoat on that fact. But they do have some issues in AI, complexity and general gameplay that still leave room for improvement. Perhaps re-creating a truly accurate, modern-nation-builder title is too complex today. Hopefully in the future, we will have a truly epic game that gives credit to games like SupremeRuler 2010 and Superpower for laying a solid foundation.