Supreme Commander 2 is the sequel to the Real Time Strategy game Supreme Commander. The game takes place twenty five years after the events of Forged Alliance, during which time the Seraphim have been destroyed and humanity has lived in peace. Then someone (TV Tropes blames Chris Taylor), for some reason, decides to murder the president of the coalition. The leaders of the United Earth Federation, the Cybran Nation and the Order of the Illuminate blame each other for the president's murder and begin to take up arms once again. Add one messed up Cybran and Precursor terraformer. Chaos ensues.
The Illuminate "Pullinsmash" (a huge tank that creates a singularity above itself, sucking in nearby units) seems to play this one straight. For the research, mass and energy costs, it destructive power relative to other experimentals as well as conventional units is quite poor. Stick it in the water, though, and it becomes a killing machine.
As does the Cybran Bomb-Bouncer, whose shield only covers itself and a bit after that. Its Megablast, however, is one-button death.
The original Cybran Monkeylord from the first game has been brought over and it retains the larger scale of everything. Cost included.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Your ACU is slow-moving but outclasses most starting units and, once fully upgraded, can even give some of the Experimentals a run for their money.
The Cybran Megalith 2. It's been nerfed from the original, but it's also one of the cheapest experimentals, allowing you to offset power with numbers. It's got insane weapon range and vision radius, has decent anti-air guns on its back and a couple of them can easily wipe out massed groups of conventional forces, something many experimentals are weak to.
Boring, but Practical: This is the UEF's aesthetic (though not their gameplay mode, see Faction Calculus below). When they build a building, it looks like it's being constructed by a modern robotic assembly line, most of their units use kinetic weapons like slug-throwers and physical missiles, and they don't have too many fancy tricks up their sleeve. The Cybrans go for a Technology Porn aesthetic, and the Illuminate go for a sort of Crystal Spires and Togas look.
Brain in a Jar: Gustav Brackman. Also, humorously, Cybran experimental research building has a detachable giant brain that can be used to fight. Power of mind?
Bittersweet Ending: Shiva is destroyed, the war is averted, Ivan is a well-respected leader in the alliance, Maddox was discharged but gets to be with his family, and Thalia... is arrested and doesn't even get the chance to see her brother before he dies.
But Thou Must: In the final mission, you have to destroy four shield generators to get to the commander. Brackman asks you to find another way, but there is none.
Captain Obvious: Ivan and Gustaf Brackman. Admittedly, Ivan may be describing things to his father that his father cannot see himself, but Gustaf has no such excuse.
Ivan: It breathes fire. Gustaf: It may be necessary to subdue the creature before gathering the sample.
Gustaf: It appears I greatly underestimated Gauge's ability to get the ectosynthesiser online
Catapult to Glory: One of the UEF's experimental buildings is a giant factory/cannon that builds robots quickly and cheaply, then launches them all the way across the map—possibly right inside or behind the enemy base.
Civil Warcraft: Happens midway through the first campaign and continues on later campaigns.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: William Gauge swaps between villanous gloating and childlike chatter with no pause in between.
Gauge: Dominic, what have you heard about the invasion? Maddox: Just rumours. Gauge: Ooh, I love rumours!
To put in perspective, same mission:
Gauge: I have done a thousand dreadful things, as willingly as one would kill a fly, but nothing grieves me more, that I can not do ten thousand more. *beat* Toodles.
Crippling Overspecialization: Mostly averted once you research enough upgrades. Depending on what side you're playing as, you can upgrade your tanks and assault bots with anti-air guns, obviating the need to build AA-only units. The Cybrans can even mount a gun on their otherwise-helpless Engineers. Some units are still overspecialized, however: the UEF has an anti-air fighter jet and a bomber jet, but no fighter-bombers like the other two sides.
Crystal Spires and Togas: The general feel of the Illuminate side. All land units are hover units, and they've got teleporters a-plenty. They've also got the largest number of giant land-bound Experimentals.
Escape Pod: You can research the ability to make your ACU's head pop off and eject to safety. Very handy in Assassination skirmishes, where the destruction of your ACU means game over. You have to have the head reconstruct a body for itself, but that's better than losing the game.
Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: Can't really blame Maddox for going against his faction, considering they were going to kill his wife and son.
Everything Fades: Averted. And now you can reclaim lost ocean units this time, whereas you couldn't in the first.
The UEF is the Powerhouse. They have a lot of artillery (more than any other faction), strong defense towers, and hard-hitting units. They suffer in production, having the most costly mass converter research (five slots down the tree and nearly twice the research points of others) and generally slightly more expensive toys.
The Aeon are Subversive. Their defense towers get dedicated shields, which no other faction has, their high-end experimentals are hard to kill, and their units are multi-purposed so they don't need a navy. They even get teleporters to bypass defenses. This is countered by their regular units not being quite as tough.
The Cybran end up being the Balanced in this game. They actually have the crappiest defense towers, but this is made up with their mass conversion being tied to their energy generators, which are also more efficient than the other factions. Short version: their production never stops with enough energy on hand. They have one of the quickest-building and most balanced experimentals in the game, which are easily unlocked. They also have the best research centers, meaning they get to top form very fast. Their best experimentals, however, take much longer to build than others, and in the short game can be taken out fairly easily.
Fastball Special: An RTS equivalent of it, anyhow. One of the UEF Experimental buildings is a cheaper-and-faster factory that stores the units it makes and launches them across the map as artillery shells, whereupon they deploy at the target area.
Glass Cannon: Surprisingly, the assault bots fall under this trope, despite being amongst the toughest units in the previous game. They can still dish out significant damage, though.
Grey Goo: An early Cybran mission involves you attempting to fight this. A base on a planet has gone haywire and is pumping out tons of mechanized engineers who are themselves constructing ludicrous numbers of anti-air and anti-ground turrets. The surplus engineers attack by capturing and converting your units to their side, so stemming the tide of these things can be quite difficult unless you prepare properly with a wall of your own turrets to beat back the Engineers. The easiest, if time-consuming solution to this problem; build a turret wall to stop the Engineer advance, then bypass land entirely and build a wet navy to bombard them from range... though you will still have to keep watch for Engineers slipping by your defensive line and capturing your naval factories.
The Hero: Ivan becomes this, logically because his third of the campaign is the last and thus he's had time to see the mistakes the others made. In spite of that, though, he is wholly heroic, even refusing some of his father's orders for the greater good.
Humongous Mecha: The ACU beats all sides. Two words: KING. KRYPTOR. The Illuminate Universal Collosus is right up there with it, but not quite as heavy. Never before have units the size of a fully-grown pine tree seemed so dwarfed in comparison. One could say that the majority of experimental units, in fact, are HUMONGOUS Humongous Mechas.
Incredibly Lame Pun: While not quite punny, the names of a fair number of Illuminate units are downright painful when said out loud. Some of the worst offenders are the Airnomo (Air no more), a walking AA battery, the Willfindja (We'll find ya), a massive floating tank that specializes in dispatching submarines, and the Fistoosh (the sound a missile launch makes), a mobile missile launcher.
Instant-Win Condition: Assassination game mode. Justified as units are robots and the commander usually takes a nice piece of his base with him, unless you have done some research.
Also justified in that the ACU is technically the only manned unit in your army, from which you are commanding (hence Armored Command Unit) - if you die, everything else has nothing to control it.
Ironic Echo: Colonel Rodgers tells Maddox that "Speeches will get you nowhere" when the latter is trying to stop the attack on New Cathedral. Maddox throws it back at Rodgers before blowing up his command post.
Leitmotif: Whenever Gauge shows up (especially if it involves nukes) for a Cybran Surprise Attack, you can bet you'll be hearing the discordant, manic music that always accompanies him, bringing to mind hordes of Demonic Spiders swarming down on some poor bastard.
If it involves nukes? STRATEGIC LAUNCH DETECTED might as well be Commander Gauge's Leitmotif.
Lighter and Softer: It's hard to deny that this game takes itself a lot less seriously than the original. The colors are brighter, unit designs lean more towards novelty and the Rule Of Cool and there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments in the campaigns, especially for the Cybran side. There's a limit, however, as it's still SupCom and the effects of the first game's events are still being felt.
Meaningful Name: Gauge might be a reference to Hilary Gage, a man who suffered brain damage that caused him to be uncontrollably emotional.
Mighty Glacier: The biggest experimentals move so slowly that unless you research giant flying transport options for them (or the Space Temple teleporter for the Illuminate) that you're going to have to wait a while for that sucker to get to the enemy base.
Military Mashup Machine: Most Illuminate units by default and Cybran ships once they up upgraded allowing them to operate on land.
More Dakka: UEF has a research option that adds more one more barrel to tanks, artillery, cruisers and battleships. They also get a few upgrades that allow most of their buildings to have turrets and anti-air capability, turning every structure they have into something that can defend itself. They also have three distinct artillery structures, so expect to deal with quite a lot of bombardment when dealing with them.
My God, What Have I Done?: Thalia Kael when she realized that Gauge has used her, and all of her actions were that of terrorism.
Nerf: Several units return from the previous game, with significant changes. The game at least has the decency to rename, so it's more like dealing with a knockoff.
The UEF Fatboy has lost its shield, its anti-aircraft, air-staging, and manufacturing capabilities, its guns are weaker and they fire at half the speed of the hold ones.
The Illuminate Czar has been renamed the Darkenoid and has lost its anti-aircraft, aircraft-carrying, and manufacturing abilities.
The Cybran Megalith is significantly smaller and less heavily armed than its predecessor. It has also lost its manufacturing capability.
Experimentals in general are significantly weaker and cheaper compared to the previous games and behave more like an additional unit tier than the game changers they were previously.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the second campaign, Thalia Kael realize that Gauge tricked her into a lot of terrorist acts, by attacking a Cybran military convoy on a humanitarian supply run, releasing the Guardians who are more than just the worst criminals of the Illuminate and UEF, and destroying the Illuminate government research facility and in the end, allow Gauge obtain a lot of things. Maddox also unfortunately destroyed the holographic shell guarding the entrance to the Shiva terraformer, which Gauge is able to reach easily as a result.
No OSHA Compliance: You have to research the technology that prevents your ACU from going off like a nuke under fire.
Non-Entity General: Averted. Each campaign's commander has a name, face, voice and family: UEF's Dominic Maddox has an Illuminate wife and son, Illuminate's Thalia Kael has her terminally ill brother, and Cybran's Ivan Brackman is the clone-son of Doctor Brackman. Anyone's guess as to what happened to the first clone-son from Supreme Commander, though.
Not So Different: William Gauge points out to Thalia that for all her ideals, she's actually a terrorist and has done more to hurt people than help. To hammer this point home, he nukes a city and says he couldn't have done it without her.
Nuke 'em: Willam Gauge does it repeatedly. In fact, he once does so twice in the same mission, following up the second with this Oppenheimer quote:
Gauge: If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. For I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
A nuke is a guaranteed kill for pretty much anything in the blast area. Experimentals and the commander usually take two.
Reality Ensues: Both Maddox and Thalia participate in destabilizing the alliance, the latter more than the former. They are punished for this. Maddox just gets an honorable discharge, since he broke ranks as soon as the morally-questionable orders came in. Thalia stuck with it for far longer, and is arrested as a result.
Reinventing the Wheel: One of the complaints leveled at Supreme Commander 2 was that the research tree introduced this to a game that had previously been free of it. Your research must be redone every level.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Averted. The nukes seem to have been toned down from the previous game, but they're still devastatingly powerful.
Spider Tank: Most of the Cybran units fall under this trope. If you have the right upgrade, it even applies to the ships!
Suicide Attack: Every Cybran Surface Unit and structure comes equipped with self destruct charges when upgraded, making them walking ordinance instead of cannon fodder.
Tech Tree: Instead of tech tiers like the previous game, the Tech Tree is used to unlock new units, abilities, and structures through research points. This has the benefit of allowing you to upgrade everything instantly just by purchasing the relevant tech. The downside is that there is a ton of things to purchase and you need a lot of research stations to build up points at a meaningful rate. You also gain Tech Points by destroying enemy units, but unless you're killing things constantly, the buildup will not be that fast, which is why you also have to build research stations that slowly generate more research points over time.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The second mission of the Cybran campaign. The player travels to a planet with an old Cybran base running a self-maintenance program. The base has some bugs in the code, however, building an excessive number of defensive towers and sending swarms of engineers to capture everything that can be captured. The player nabs some data from the control center and leaves. None of this is ever mentioned again, and bears no relation to the rest of the game except for mechanics.
Weapon Of Mass Destruction: Everyone's run-of-the-mill Long Range Artillery/Tactical Missiles and the obvious Nuke. "Shiva" - an autonomous terraforming device.
Wearing a Flag on Your Head: With the exception of a few of their airborne units, every single unit in the Illuminate arsenal has a pair of huge banners featuring their emblem on it. Y'know, just in case you couldn't tell who they belonged to.
You Monster!: Gauge is accused of this after nuking a place. He disagrees and demonstrates something really monstrous. Ten nukes!