The economic changes aren't for the worse or even necessarily for the better, but they do place the focus squarely on moment-to-moment battle decisions rather than convoluted economic tweaking. You spend less time speeding up production times with engineers and more time spreading your units around and reacting to your opponents' actions. Matches give you a chance to play with different ideas and a reason to use every unit at your disposal. If you like turtling, shield generators and long-range artillery will buy you time to amass a large force. If you like harassing the enemy, stick to the air and put your bombers on a patrol route. Your base building isn't restricted to a specific region, and the research trees are generous and robust, so there's plenty of room to be creative. The flexibility leads to a ton of fun because on the best maps, no game plays out the same way twice. An intense battle may erupt when you least suspect it, or you might foil your nemesis' plans with a well-timed artillery barrage. And if you can't decide whether to be conservative or aggressive, spread your forces quickly and be both at once. Imagination is often rewarded with shocking and exciting victories, though crazy strategies may naturally lead to soul-crushing defeat as well.
You might be bombarded by artillery fire before a single mobile unit attacks you.
The game-changing experimental units give you even more flexibility and can change the flow of battle in awesome ways. Some of them, such as the UEF's returning (and slightly tweaked) fatboy and the gigantic King Kriptor robot, are offensive powerhouses and as subtle as a destructive blast to the forehead. Others, however, take a bit more skill and produce much more unexpected and enjoyable results. A well-considered placement of the Illuminate's loyalty gun will convert invading experimentals to your cause, so that a hulking Cybranosaurus might end up mowing down its previous comrades. The space temple teleporter helps you take your enemy unaware, and using it multiple times in a row may lead to several concurrent scuffles. If you want more dramatic invasions, however, you can build some ground units within the UEF's land cannon and shoot them across the map into enemy territory. It sure beats a boring old transport ship.
Rarely would you ever call Supreme Commander 2 boring, however. The net result of the changes--the adjusted economy, the speed at which you can earn experimentals and upgrades--is that you don't need to wait a long time to get the fun units in play. It takes time to unlock high-cost experimentals, but the less-expensive ones are fun to watch and fun to use, and you can put them in play early on. This is a game in which you can pit colossal robots and hulking metal dinosaurs against each other, and the pace of the campaign is excellent, keeping you excited to see what toys the game is going to give you next while making it fun to use the ones you have. The game's conventional but rousing soundtrack hits the right notes, and the resulting tension is constantly relieved by massive explosions and frenzied masses of tangling aircraft.
After you cut your teeth on the single-player campaign, you can easily jump into online play to challenge human opponents. You can join up with friends or play ranked or unranked matches against strangers, though a week after release, there aren't many people playing online, so you'll need to exercise some patience if you're hoping to rise up the leaderboard ranks. The maps only support up to four players, but most are designed well and give you a chance to spread your forces quickly. Online matches run smoothly and provide the game's finest pleasures, mostly in the broader maps that smartly avoid a lot of choke points and narrow walkways. A seemingly staid opponent may suddenly launch nuclear death from above, teleport in a couple of powerful assault blocks, or take out all of your air units with a few antiair experimentals. Everything can go from cerebral to stimulating within a moment's notice. Of course, if you need practice, you can always play offline skirmishes, but the AI on normal doesn't provide much more challenge in one-off matches than it does in the campaign.
Experimentals can change the course of the match, but they are hardly invulnerable.
The narrow walkways of other maps highlight one of Supreme Commander's more notable problems: pathfinding. Ground units may have trouble figuring out how to arrange themselves or get through not-so-narrow gaps, even performing occasional dance routines as they attempt simple move orders. An experimental might get stuck on a defeated unit's charred remains or your armored command unit may wedge itself between structures, though most pathfinding flaws are far less problematic. These moments might happen even when you've taken care to avoid them, and micromanaging units just to get them to where you need them to go is not a welcome diversion. These frustrations aren't common, but they are noticeable nonetheless.
Whether you're a newcomer or a veteran tactician, you'd do well to overlook the flaws and enjoy Supreme Commander 2 for being so fun and approachable. The game maintains a difficult balancing act, providing the flexibility of the original Supreme Commander with a user-friendly makeover that lends some freshness and personality. This isn't the next step forward in console strategy games, but it controls well and performs well, making it easy to get lost in some entertaining robot-on-robot action.