I bought this game soon after it was released, but my parents' computer couldn't handle even installing it. Fast forward a few years, and I remember that I still have it sitting in a draw somewhere. I pull it out and install it on my new Alienware laptop. And wow. How many hours of my life, I wonder, have I now spent playing this game.
Essential to the tactics you'll use in this game is the intelligence of the AI (both of your units, and the enemy) and the things your units can do without supervision once you've told them to do it.
The best way to explain the AI and what you can do with it in this game is to use an example. Your scout planes, reliably patrolling routes you have selected, while stopping to refuel whenever they need to, detect the source of the enemy bombers that have been attacking your base. You set up a series of five Land Factories, four of them "assisting" the first one you built. You tell the factory to send any units it (or the other four) produces to a "ferry point". From the ferry point, your transport ships take hundreds - yes, hundreds - of your units to the spot at the back of the enemy island that they have assumed you won't be able to reach. You don't need to load each unit on the transports - they will take a load and return for more, until all units have been transported.
You then queue up the buildings you want your assault force of tanks to attack, ensuring that they methodically knock out the enemy power generators one by one, disabling enemy defences. Your anti-air units and artillery can be tasked to "assist" those tanks, ensuring that they are safe from air threats, and have plenty of fire support to help them. You tell your own bombers to execute a "coordinated attack" on the same generators, ensuring that they only reach the targets just as your tanks are in range as well.
Meanwhile, your engineer units patrol your own base, repairing units and buildings as necessary, and convert crashed enemy ships into resources. In short, the AI and the range of orders at your disposal makes this game great. The scale is well beyond most RTS. Ever wanted to drop ten nukes on a base then have two assault groups of 100 tanks attack from each side? You can do it in this game.
The only shortfall with this sheer scale is due to the method of resource production. There are no finite resources in Supreme Commander; your power generators create energy and mass converters convert that energy to...mass. In the end, you are only limited to how many buildings you can fit inside the unit limit - which means winning can come down to outlasting the enemy to the point where your ability to produce powerful units quickly is simply greater than theirs.
The graphics now look a little dated, the textures perhaps lacking in detail by 2012 standards - but honestly, not to the point of detracting from the game. The positive side of this is that, unlike a few years ago, your computer can almost certainly run it!
The music is suitably grand and orchestral. Some of the sound effects are a little unlikely - do massive lasers really sound like a star wars blaster? Overall however, the sound is satisfying - such as when fifty enemy gunships crash to the ground.
A terrific game with only minor negative points. If you are an RTS fan, this really is a must play, even now.