World Supremacy – PC Game Review
World Supremacy. PC Game Publisher: Shrapnel Games. Developer: Malfador Machinations. $29.95
Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, easy to play. Highly moddable.
Failed Basic: Dumb AI, minimal graphics.
Beer & Wine. And cupcakes? No thanks. Beer & Pretzels…and wargaming? Dig in.
It seems like the trend in PC gaming is to make things bigger, splashier, and more complex so World Supremacy comes as a bit of a throwback to some good-clean-fun carnage. The AI isn’t particularly bright. It would be unlikely to power one of those dumb eco-lightbulbs. But that isn’t the point. Sometimes wargaming is about the journey, not the destination. World Surpemacy is that kind of game.
World Supremacy is a strategic game of global conquest set in the near-future. The names of each region are drawn from a random database of existing cities, states, and countries from the real world. They lay out in a random fashion, and so it’s easy to find Colorado right next to Tokyo. The game offers a number of options to allow for various tweaking of the game. Your regions might be contiguous, or at the flick of a switch, not. Maps can be huge to small, and you can specify the number of opponents up to eight. Game types can be single-player, hotseat, and TCP/IP. Malfador Machinations is known for creating highly modable games, and World Supremacy is designed to be modded from the ground up. Lastly, the game runs in windowed mode, not full-screen.
Gameplay is pretty simple. Money is accumulated by each region, though creating a city on a region will boost its value. Players then spend their money on – you guessed it – guns. This can range from infantry to tanks to aircraft carriers. A research option allows you to buy a chance to increase the technology level of a certain aspect of your units, up to and including nukes. Research is a dicey proposition; $200 (currency is specified in millions) buys a 25% probability of success, while $300 will buy a 50% chance.
Combat is a simple affair. Roll whatever units you want to attack into a region. Units then move on a turn-by-turn basis. Each unit has an initiative factor as well as range and attack and defense capabilities. Some units are naturally better at some things than others. Bombers annihilate virtually anything on the ground, but can do a surprising amount of damage to airborne fighters – realism takes a back seat to fun here. Fighters are great all-around attack units, but ground units of some kind are necessary to capture a region. Moving an air unit over a hostile area with nowhere to land results in its destruction. Sometimes that’s an acceptable loss, but more often than not it’s better to move aircraft up to a front line in preparation of an assault the following turn.
Strategy seems fairly simple. Early in the game, only capture territories that are unoccupied. Only get into one fight at a time. The AI seems inclined to mostly ignore players that ignore it, though it will get antsy and shuffle units around if it looks like an attack is about to take place. (Editor’s Note: The first patch will have some updates to improve the AI.)
As I noted before, World Supremacy is more about the journey than the destination. If you can manage to focus your attacks on one nation, then expansion is more or less inevitable. The AI tends to like letting one large nation grow to exceptional size, and often it’s difficult to discern just which one that is before you go to war with it. If you manage to get into a fight with the biggest one, you’re in for a real struggle.
The best way to conduct war is to keep your units amassed in two or three huge armies in two or three regions. Leaving a single unit to occupy a region does nothing but invite its destruction. It is possible to walk into a region and capture it with a single unit, but it’s a near certainty that the next round will see a larger force retake it. The better strategy is to amass a huge force that nothing within sight can touch, then whittle down the enemy forces from there.
On the list of stuff-I’d-like-to-see it would be nice if there were a “surrender” button for combat. When ten tanks roll in to a region defended by a single infantry unit, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. A Surrender button would spare me 30 seconds of moving my unit into the teeth of the enemy. Another request would be an Undo. Inadvertently moving a unit into an enemy region (or the wrong one) doesn’t seem to be too much to ask. There’s no bonus to scouting units in another region – anything in proximity is visible. Also, having a national flag on ships at sea would help to distinguish between neutral and enemy ships.
There is, of course, no diplomatic model, although frankly it seems like one is missing. In these games diplomacy is always a fig leaf. Eventually the player plans to conquer the entire map. Even so, it seems like a diplomatic mechanic could help to explain why 90% of my western regions aren’t under assault while I’m distracted fighting in the East with every last unit at my disposal.
As noted above, this game isn’t about showcasing the AI. It goes to reason that multiplayer games are where the meat of the game is. I haven’t had the opportunity to game against another human, but gamers looking for a simple strategy game of wold domination should find World Supremacy a good stocking stuffer for a beer & pretzels opponent.
The other item to look for are the mods. While the base game isn’t the epitome of gaming goodness, the right mods could make this thing really pop. The potential is huge. If the community steps up there’s no telling how far this game could go. Seriously – Star Wars land battles with cute little Ewoks being crushed under the feet of Imperial AT-ATs sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered.
Armchair General Rating: 80%
About the Author:
Jim Zabek is a part time game editor and full time zombie hunter. If there are no zombies in your neck of the woods you can thank him later, because he’s busy now and they’re sure to be in someone else’s neck of the woods.