Game Review - by James Allen
There has been a greater focus on World War II in recent gaming history. From the venerable Close Combat franchise to World War II Online, the largest war in human history has been dissected and turn into innumerable games. From German developers comes Sudden Strike, which takes the real time strategy approach to World War II. Featuring realistic units (and lots of them), Sudden Strike hopes to accurately represent battle during the period. Will Sudden Strike conquer their foes, or surrender like so many before it?
I believe that it is a requirement of every real time strategy game to feature skirmish battles: Sudden Strike does not, which subtracts major brownie points. What is featured are three campaigns (Allied, German, and Russian), some single missions, and multiplayer. Why the multiplayer maps couldn't be used in skirmish games, I'll never know. The most impressive feature is the sheer number of units found in the game. If it was present during World War II, it's probably found in Sudden Strike. From infantry and tanks to spy planes and ambulances, everything you can imagine is found here. Unfortunately, you cannot select your units before each mission, which adds a degree of confusion before each mission. Also, there isn't a grand list of every unit available, so you'll just have to rely on the small information bar during gameplay. More could have been done here.
Most of the accurate sounds of World War II are found in Sudden Strike, although during the game, they are all melted together in an alloy of perplexity. All of the units given an appropriate salutation in their respective language. I did find one mispronunciation in the game: the Russian scenario briefer says conquer as "con-queer." But other than that, the sound is okay and appears to be accurate (from the old war footage I have witnessed). Although nothing here is of land quality, it still serves the atmosphere of the game well.
Although Sudden Strike strives to make battling more than just carrying a bunch of units into the battlefield, it degenerates exactly into that. The problem is that most units die much too quickly. Now, I know there should be a large attrition rate for infantry, but tanks can be downed relatively quickly, even by the most rudimentary means. It gets really, really frustrating when all of your units die so easily. Sudden Strike is an exercise in pushing forward with more reinforcements until you kill the enemy. There is such an air of unrealism in the game, that something with the way the battles are portrayed just isn't right. The path finding of your troops is awful: I've clicked around a bend on a road, and the motorcycle went completely around a building straight into enemy fire. Your troops need to be hand-held throughout the game. What's worse is the difficulty in perceiving where your troops are actually located on the minimap, especially at higher resolutions. The little green dots are most tricky to picking out. A neat feature is the ability to control enemy gun turrets and anti-aircraft artillery. I've learned a couple of things about World War II warfare while playing Sudden Strike: (a) infantry can take out tanks with ease, especially with grenades, (b) grenades are the most powerful weapon ever developed, and can eliminate hordes of enemies with ease, and (c) most troops can be taken out with one shot and complete accuracy. I guess The History Channel was wrong all along.
The graphics are of good quality, especially with no 3D acceleration. Sudden Strike has shown that sprites can look better than some 3D games if they are done right. By far the best feature of the game, everything is very clear and looks accurate. The damage in a ravaged town is awesome to look at. The explosions and the evidence left thereafter are also very well done. Sudden Strike does a extraordinarily good job at depicting the utter destruction of war. Exacting detail is given to almost every component of each level, from the houses and trees to the tanks and planes. If only all 2D games could look this good.
Sudden Strike eliminates the resource collection and building management of most real time strategy games, and focuses on the actual battle element. This must mean that the actual battles have the drama and excitement that is needed to carry this game, and it's honestly not present. The focus on utmost destruction has turned Sudden Strike from a potentially compelling game to an event where you just bring troops in and blast away. I was rooting for Sudden Strike to pull through, but the frailty of the units and speed of the battles makes it just another war RTS.