Composed by
Jeremy Soule

 

Published by
DirectSong (2007)

 

Tracklistings
1) Bellum Infinitus (Theme from Supreme Commander)
2) The Final Act Begins
3) An Old Idea Made New
4) United Earth Federation
5) Risk, Relief and Victory
6) The Cybran Nation
7) Symbiont Legion Rising
8) Dead Grounds
9) Employed Strategy
10) The Winds of Change
11) One Planet at a Time
12) The Aeon Illuminate
13) Followers of The Way
14) Clash of the Champions
15) A Cloudy Path
16) Enlightenment
17) Massive Attack
18) The Final Cataclysm

View full tracklistings

 

Availability
DirectSong

 

Extras
Game website
Composer website

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn


Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander is a real-time strategy (RTS) game that is all about scale and scope. Instead of buiding single units and send those into small-scale combats like in many other RTS games, Supreme Commander allows you to produce and command hundreds of units at once and let them clash with the enemy on huge battlefields. Positive about this style of gameplay is that it allows for truly epic strategy tactics. The downside is that the game becomes increasingly difficult the more units you control. So in the end, Supreme Commander clearly aims at veteran strategy gamers, but the solid graphics and intuitive interface also gave rookies a chance to at least try out this unique kind of playing experience.

The developers at Gas Powered Games call Supreme Commander the spiritual successor of Total Annihilation, a very famous strategy title of the 1990s. What’s interesting is that fans of that game remember above all its soundtrack, composed by the then relatively unknown Jeremy Soule. Not only was the score full of themes and striking fanfares, it was also one of the very first game scores to be recorded with a live orchestra, in that case the Seattle Symphony. Due to the huge success of that score and Soule’s friendship with Total Annihilation lead designer Chris Taylor with whom he had later come to work on the Dungeon Siege series, Soule was asked to compose the score for Supreme Commander.

To keep up with the sheer size and scope of the game, Soule unleashes the full power of his synthesizers and the result is remarkable to say the least. In the tradition of epic orchestral writing, Soule’s score is thematic, rich and action-packed. The game features three different factions the player can take control of and Soule composed a theme for each. The most prominent is the theme for the “United Earth Federation” which is also the main theme of Supreme Commander (“Bellum Infinitus”). It’s a brass-driven, glorious fanfare accompanied by military percussion and strings. This theme is used extensively throughout the score and is featured in softer more majestic arrangements like “The Final Act Begins”, as a secondary voice under trumpets in “The Final Cataclysm” or on strings in “One Planet at a Time”. The second faction called “The Cybran Nation” gets a very martial and aggressive theme that builds upon pounding rhythms and staccato brass figures. It’s actually quite an addictive motif and turns up in some of the other cues, for example in a fast-paced arrangement in “The Winds of Change”. It is nowhere near as prominent as the United Earth Federation’s theme though. The same goes for the third faction, “The Aeon Illuminate” which starts softly with strings and magical percussion before culminating in a sweeping statement of an enchanting melody. There are some other thematic components in the score, most notably a rhythmic military figure best heard at the beginning of “Risk, Relief and Victory”. As a whole, Soule’s score manages to match the game’s massive scale through extensive orchestrations and the sheer power of its thematic material.

Every RTS game, however, is ultimately more than just action. For the slower phases of the game, Soule took the same approach as in Total Annihilation: Haunting, ethereal orchestrations coupled with deep bass lines, soft electronic percussion and a sparse use of background choir (“Dead Grounds”, “Employed Strategy”). They are in fact quite interesting to listen to and provide a pleasant change from the highly energetic battle cues.

The level of orchestral power and detail Soule achieves with his synthesizer in Supreme Commander is impressive. He even seems to have used a few new orchestral features, such as sophisticated brass clusters and audible use of ‘forte’ and ‘piano’ for dramatic effect. Whether you are a fan of the music for Total Annihilation or just love big and action-packed soundtracks, you should seriously consider giving Supreme Commander a chance. It’s a very fine score and a great achievement.

At the end of 2007, Gas Powered Games released the first official addon: Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. The additional cues Soule composed are available at DirectSong.com (free of charge for the purchasers of the original Supreme Commander album). The expansion set introduces a new alien race called the Seraphim. Their futuristic and shiny look is underscored by Soule with a solemn yet menacing string line, often joined by choir. As a matter of fact, Forged Alliance is dominated by such a sense of impending danger as this new race enters the eternal war of the factions. As an example, “Visitors from the Quantum Realm” is a spine-chilling blend of dissonant tonal figures. Soule also wrote one new arrangement for each original theme that sounds quite unconventional in respect to most of his work: he mixed his traditional orchestral style with electric guitar and soft electronics. Both the Supreme Commander and the Cybran theme are turned into Rock arrangements; the Aeon theme is underlined with a beat and modern electronics. However, especially the Cybran theme works pretty well in such a new arrangement. In addition, there’s also a convincing variation of the military motif in “The Art of War” as well as a new addictive action theme in “Rhiza’s Offensive”. As a whole, Soule’s additional tracks don’t sound very impressive, but it’s certainly a change of pace that makes the album as a whole a more diverse listening experience.