"Global Crisis doesn't do anything wrong by any definition, very competently building on the strengths of the core game and bringing more toys and scenarios to the mix. But neither does it add anything really new that shakes up the gameplay, and I confess to a bit of disappointment at that."
Expansions have always been a mixed bag for me. Some are good, signifigantly altering their parent title and introduce new strategy and new elements that add depth and substance to a game. Some are little more than glorified patches. Most fall in between, in the realm of "same game, new content".
Supreme Ruler 2020: Global Crisis follows the safe middle-ground approach, adding more of the same to an already solid and complex RTS. And that's perfectly alright; why fix it if it isn't broken?
Standard fare among expansions of this type is a bit of streamlining, through improvements to the user interface, minor graphical improvements, and smarter AI. Global Crisis has all of these, as well as an expanded set of tutorials that help soften this game's steep learning curve. Included is a very helpful Tip of the Day feature, but much like in the original game, the tutorials still come off as a little abstract(note similar comments).
Changes to the user interface, while welcome, only slightly relate to the actual gameplay. To that end scores of new research areas and corresponding units have been added, whether to fill new roles on the battlefield or merely improve old ones. The coolest ones, of course, crop up near the end of the tech tree and include things like antimatter power plants and various applications of nanotechnology - and as before I applaud BattleGoat Studios for showing that it is possible to have hard sci-fi in video games. It's worth mentioning, though, that these new technologies are mostly eye candy, merely better, more efficient, and more expensive versions of earlier iterations that show up near the end of the tech tree. Still, having a longer tech tree (even if new items are nothing special) means the research-minded player can acquire and maintain a technological advantage a little longer, and new units (even if they aren't much different from the old) let your further diversify your army if only to appease your inner General.
But the biggest attraction, for me, is the new "Global Crisis" campaign, a Cold War-esque scenario extrapolated from recent events and trends in the world today - and again, my hat goes off to BattleGoat for their dedication to plausibility. Players of Supreme Ruler 2020 already know the various campaigns are in the sandbox style, each with a different distribution of resources and starting relations between nations. SR2020's flagship campaign centered around the collapse and ensuing civil warring of the major world powers, giving a kind of free-for-all atmosphere. "Global Crisis" is a whole new scenario, inspired by recent tendencies of the United States and Russia to maintain close groups of allies; in this campaign most of the world governments have divided amongst these two camps, setting the stage for a massive slugfest between the two superpowers while the few neutral nations nibble away at their power base. A new plethora of shorter and smaller scenarios are included as well, both for offline and multiplayer use, but although these new scenarios may be of academic interest to someone well-versed in 20th century history, the gameplay remains unchanged; the new maps just change up international relations a bit, which frankly is something the fanbase could have (and has, in fact) thrown together itself.
Thus, while Global Crisis is of increased academic interest, it remains merely more of the same, and this makes it difficult to decide how to grade as a game. Really, Global Crisis doesn't do anything wrong by any definition, very competently building on the strenghts of the core game and bringing more toys and scenarios to the mix. But neither does it add anything really new that shakes up the gameplay, and I confess to a bit of disappointment at that. Still, I can't fault BattleGoat for sticking to their guns with this expansion. If Supreme Ruler was your cup of tea then Global Crisis is easily worth picking up.
Freelance review by Will Roy (April 27, 2009)
Will is grumpy, sarcastic and Canadian. He occasionally crawls out of his igloo to cover sci-fi and strategy games. Has a love-hate relationship with cats. And the colour purple.
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