Developer : GolemLabs
Release Date: October 18, 2004
Pre-order 'SUPERPOWER 2': PC
Back in the glory days of the Commodore Amiga, there was a great little game called “Balance Of Power”. It was almost insanely complicated for its time, requiring you to not only manage all geopolitical, socioeconomic, military, and diplomatic functions of your home country, but read world newspapers to see how your policies affect other nations. Most of the “real” countries were present and playable, and most any strategy up to and including thermonuclear war were possible. When you finally exhausted all diplomatic and conventional methods, you could “do a Dr. Strangelove” and drop the big one. Problem was, when you did that, the game was over. You were given a plain text box saying something like “I bet you expected a neat graphic of mushroom clouds and bodies disintegrating. We’re sorry, but we don’t reward failure.” What a dry hump! Not to worry about that premature withdrawal when you sit down to conquer “Superpower 2”.
Starting from a global map, you immediately see the state of affairs in the world. Overlays provide you with comparative graphs of economics, population, political parties, religions, nuclear capability, and the like. These are pretty damn near accurate for today’s date. Using the mouse wheel, you can seamlessly zoom to a platoon-level map including roads and cities.
You can opt to outlaw any theology, you can plunge your country into martial law, and you can make a single political party the “official” party of your nation. In short, the choices you make affect everything that occurs within your borders. Now that I think of it, you also have the option to close your borders down to immigration OR emigration, effectively turning your homeland into a police state.
Sounds like a lot to take in, doesn’t it? I haven’t even scratched the surface! Thermonuclear attacks are as easily ordered as pressing a launch button, and covert ops can be dispatched, up to and including assassinating foreign dignitaries, then framing the murder on another country. Then, the credibility of your nation comes into play, to decide if the rest of the world buys the frame-up.
I am certain that when SuperPower 2 is released, the game manual will be at least one hundred pages long. At least I hope it will be, because my press release came with documentation skimpier than Paris Hilton’s G-string. This is not a shot at the game, or its brilliant developers, it’s just an observation. I can tell you this: When this game is released, and you plunk down your kopeks to take it home, READ THE BOOK!
You see, since this game works on a global level, your decisions may not have effect for months, or perhaps years of game-time. Fortunately, time flies when you don’t know what the hell you are doing.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. Not that I ever understood that expression, but it’s hard to pad a preview of a game that is comprised mostly of static images and menus up to 1500 words. I hope I get the assignment of reviewing the completed game, because I have a feeling that Super Power 2 is going to be the mother of all global reality sims. The aforementioned Balance of Power for the Amiga was one of my all-time favorite games, despite its lack of animations, explosions and the like. A good game is a good game regardless of how it is presented.
Henry Kissinger said that “…power is the greatest aphrodisiac”, and there is a great deal of satisfaction in guiding a nation to global superiority, be it an established World Power (like the US) or a Third World nation. Back in the day, I recall a months-long game of BoP in which I took the reins of Australia, and by the time I was done, the US was cowering at my shores. Since most every established nation on the planet is represented here in SP2, there are many, many challenges ahead.
In this preview build, the covert operations were not available, and a lot of options were “ghosted”, making them unplayable.
Keeping track of your resources is, obviously, a key point. One would hate to begin the diplomatic channels toward war only to find that one can’t afford to build the conquering army. Researching WMD’s is simple; just click the research button. Launching them is equally simplistic. To put not too dull a point on it, everything in Super Power 2 is easily done. It’s the reactions to your actions that make it the immensely textured game that it is.
Graphically, I have no complaints. There is a certain sense of déjà vu from the old movie “WarGames”, especially when you launch the nukes. Lines split out from your launch silos and arc over the planet, homing in on their respective targets. Bright flashes occur at ground zero and small clouds remain present for a short time.
The ground conflicts are much less impressive. When your ground troops encounter enemies, everything shifts to a small dust cloud, and you merely have to wait until the conflict is resolved.
Sound effects are just as you would expect. Little explosions, bigger explosions, you get the point, I’m sure.
As I said, I am certain that this will be a killer title when all is completed. In its current form, it shows glimpses of brilliance, but there’s a lot that needs filling in. Here’s hoping the developers rise to their self-imposed challenge.
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