Of course, no console RTS will provide the speed and precision a mouse and keyboard offers, but playing SupCom 2 with a 360 pad feels surprisingly natural. Moving the reticule over any unit automatically selects it, leaving you the easy job of bringing up build options via a radial menu and dish out attack or move orders all at the push of a face button. Pulling back on the right stick zooms the camera out thousands of feet into the upper stratosphere, allowing you to quickly send your huge armies off to enemy bases and other skirmish points; crucially your ability to "cope" with the challenge of the enemy AI, which isn't too taxing, isn't restricted by the controls. All other menus, including SupCom 2's interesting research upgrade tech trees, are accessed with the shoulder buttons. And the action hurtles along at an impressively smooth frame rate, even when there are more units on screen than you can possible count. In a way, SupCom 2's transition to the Xbox 360 is aided by its structure, but credit must go to Gas Powered Games for smoothing the process.
Unfortunately, the game's let down by a somewhat lethargic campaign, with cliché-ridden voice over and uninspiring mission objectives. We know how good RTS campaigns can be - Relic's Dawn of War II series has shown us the way, with spectacular set-pieces and memorable characters, but SupCom 2's campaign doesn't include either, and fails to break free of the shackles of being little more than a multiplayer tutorial. The predictable plot makes soldiering through the 18 missions (six for each faction) somewhat of a trudge. It's hard to imagine how a SupCom campaign could be better than what we have here, given the nature of the series' gameplay, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that it is at times boring.
So, multiplayer's where it's at. Unfortunately, it's here that Gas Powered Games has let itself down. While 1v1 ranked matches and 2v2 custom matches are possible, it's impossible to deliberately team up with a mate and play against two random players. All you can do is join a quick match and hope that your mate, who is perhaps trying to do the same thing, ends up in your game and on your team. The only true way to play with a friend is to set up a private game, but then you need to fill the other two slots manually by inviting. This decision had already led to an outpouring of anger on the game's official website. With no word on a patch at the time of writing, we can only hope Gas Powered Games invests in this crucial aspect of the game's multiplayer experience. SupCom 2 is a fun, often spectacular game to play with mates, which makes the lack of proper party matchmaking support all the more disappointing.
As far as ports go, SupCom 2 on 360 is a middling success. Controls wise, it works well, which is great - at least as well as Halo Wars. Indeed it's a better balanced and more in depth strategy game than Ensemble's effort. It's also a marked improvement on the 360 version of the first game. But it falls down in some crucial areas: the single-player campaign, ever more crucial to an RTS' appeal, fails to sparkle, and the online experience, while fun, lacks an essential feature. We're delighted the 360 port exists, but Gas Powered Games could have tried harder.