Sudden Strike 2
Here is a question every games publisher in the world would love to hear the answer to: what compels people to spend their hard earned money on a particular computer game? An advert? An informative, entertaining and grammatically impeccable review by yours truly, perhaps? Word of mouth? The answer. I’ll wager, is a combination of all these things. But there are moments -admit it now. we’ve all had them - when you’re standing in a shop. The game you’ve been wanting for months hasn’t been released and 30 quid is burning a hole in your pocket and you’ve somehow convinced yourself that to leave empty-handed would be an embarrassing failure. So you end up buying a game you’ve never heard of. not in this case because the words ’One cannot play war. grandpa says’ are printed on the back of the box, but because on the front, some magazine is saying: 'One of the finest WWII games ever made’.
What’s In The Box
Despite the atrocious packaging. Sudden Strike was a hit. Hence the inevitable sequel, which like the original game is concerned with picking one of WWII’s major powers and going about the destruction of the enemy in time-honoured RTS fashion - select loads of tanks, then click where the enemy is.
Of course there’s much more to it than that, and as before. Sudden Stnke II takes a sidestep away from regular real-time strategy games like C&C, in that you no longer have to worry about collecting resources or building units. What you see is what you get and what you get you must make best use of.
Returning this time are a bewildering array of German and Allied units, but this time players will also be able to take charge of the Imperial Japanese forces and fight across SE Asia and the Pacific Islands. New tanks, trucks, soldiers and aircraft will be introduced for the first time, and players will also be able to direct armoured trains, landing craft and even destroyers.
As well as shifting the realism up a gear (and introducing difficulty levels for those of us that found the original a bit too much of a challenge), Russian developer Fireglow has added a few other new features worthy of note. Graphically, little has changed, but there are plenty of lovely new touches: the terrain is much more varied and the fog of war adjusts to reflect that. Hide your troops in the bushes for example and although they may be out of view of the enemy, they probably won’t see very much themselves. You can order grouped units to stick to formation, travel at the same speed and if you need to get troops to the front line quickly, you can order them to clamber onto your tanks rather than use trucks.
Already out in Germany, there have been a few voices of dissent about the 2D isometric graphics, but we happen to quite like them. You can expect an informative, entertaining and grammatically impeccable review of the full English version of Sudden Strike II next issue.
Download Sudden Strike 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
What was WWII really like? Was it the sombre yet star-studded display of gallantry movies such as The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far would have us believe? Or was it the grim, bloody, tooth-and-nail melee films like Saving Private Ryan and Enemy At The Gates depict? According to Sudden Strike II, it was neither.
This is the war we learnt about from Commando and Warlord comics. The war where a lone Tommy could charge through enemy lines, blow up a couple of tanks and take the enemy general prisoner, before blasting his way back to friendly territory. A war where the action never stops and explosions rain thick and fast, sending soldiers flying through the air screaming 'Aiiiiieeeeee' as they go. In short, it's war for fun. Which is probably the way it should be as far as games are concerned. Sudden Strike came out of nowhere last year and took the games charts by storm. The WWII setting was novel for the RTS genre, and the game's emphasis on action without having to think about collecting resources was enough to persuade people to overlook the fact that in many other ways it was hardly dissimilar to the majority of other RTSs.
Sudden Strike II lets you play as either the Germans. Russians. Americans, Japanese or the Brits. Each nationality has its own single-player campaign based around historical battles such as the British Airborne landings at Arnhem and the American crossing of the Rhine. There are also a stack of one-off missions, but sadly no singleplayer skirmish generator.
Each side has its own unique units, and hardware buffs should dust off their identification manuals as the massive range of vehicles in the game are all modelled on their historical counterparts.
Amass Ammo, Attack
Out on the battlefield, as with its predecessor. Sudden Strike Il's major departure from the RTS norm is its lack of traditional resource management. In order to fight a battle you don't first need to chop down a bunch of trees, dig up a load of iron and construct a base to build your army. The only thing you need to worry about here is keeping your units supplied with ammo. And fortunately, crates of the stuff are to be found lying about the battlefields, which your troops can either grab for themselves or you can get a truck to haul it up to the front lines for them.
Visually, despite many slight improvements to the engine, SS2 doesn't really look any different to how you remember its forerunner. The explosions may belch more fire and the buildings may be more varied and detailed, but to be blunt, it looks pretty much identical. The map is still drawn from the isometric top-down viewpoint we're used to from the dawn of RTS gaming, covering everything from the winter snowscapes of Russia, to the dense forests of Northern Germany and the sandy beaches and lush jungles of South Pacific islands.
The units are all fairly well drawn and remind you of those little plastic Airfix soldiers, tanks and planes we used to play with as kids. And when the action kicks off, it's exactly the exciting maelstrom you imagined as you rolled marbles into the ranks of your little Matchbox men. Tanks spurting machine gun and cannon fire, artillery shells bursting all around, waves of infantry mown down by HMG emplacements as huge bombers drone overhead, pursued by the puffs of smoke sent up by your flak guns. It's hardly going to stretch your graphics card, but it does the job nicely.
Air units periodically become available, which you can use to drop bombs, paratroops and even propaganda leaflets to persuade your foe to pack it in and come over to your side. Naval units appear in the form of troop transports and cruisers, and armoured trains make sporadic appearances when they're least expected. Sounds familiar.
But there is a problem with all this. The men are damn small. And often, finding the right guy at the nght time can be vital. There you are. with more than a hundred soldiers under your command. One of them is your general. There is no hotkey to select him. You can't tell what he looks like. He might be in a building. He might be taking cover behind a tree. Oh shit! He was in that clump of blokes you sent to attack that bunker. Now he's dead and it's game over.
Considering the amount of micromanagement necessary to keep your troops alive, this miniaturisation is often less than welcome. Winning firefights can depend on you calling in your long-range artillery at the right time, getting your engineer to lay some mines before the enemy tanks arrive, ordering your truck to unload its anti-tank gun in time to fire or selecting your officer in time for him to spot the enemy bazookas with his binoculars. It becomes so hard to lift your head from the intricate micromanagement necessary to keep your forces alive that when it comes to the bigger picture, you can't see the wood for the trees.
Casualties Of War
Reinforcements are frequently available depending on you securing key objectives and enemy guns and vehicles can be captured and crewed by your own men. And boy do you need them. This, along with all the careful marshalling and micromanaging of your precious men, enforces a methodical approach on you, meaning the missions can run into hours as you inch across maps, sniffing out ammunition supplies and new equipment.
This isn't helped by the fact that working out what you have to do next can be a pain in the arse due to the lack of in the battles are nothing like the historical reality. None of which is a bad thing. Just like the toy soldier battles we used to have, this is a game after all. And when was the last time a realistic strategy title gained any real popularity among mainstream gamers? The demise of the Close Combat series and the difficulty the makers of Combat Mission had in getting a distributor demonstrate this.
an objectives checklist. Your mission might be to defend a bridge. You do that. For about an hour. The enemy has apparently given up. But the 'Victory' screen just won't appear. Infuriating.
Despite the developer's boasts, Sudden Strike 2 neither looks nor plays realistically. The maps bear no resemblance to the places they are supposed to, the weapons don't work realistically, and the types of forces involved.
When The Smoke Clears
Despite a host of tweaks and corrections such as the inclusion of difficulty levels and the ability to order groups of units to move at the same speed. SS2 has the feel of a patched add-on pack. Enemy Al is still practically nonexistent, with groups of soldiers hanging around smoking as your artillery bursts all around, and the only enemy 'attacks' being the ones scripted in the scenarios.
The first game had nothing to live up to as it was a bolt from the blue, but that's not the case anymore. And to be brutal, it looks like the designers found their laurels a little too comfortable, choosing to rest on them when they should have been pushing Sudden Strike forward. And in war. complacency is the number one enemy.