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Sudden Strike 1

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Magdalena Liendo

Dec 4, 2023, 1:36:01 AM12/4/23
The second thing you notice when you play Sudden Strike is that its maps aren't just there to look pretty. Many of the battles take place in or around towns, with houses, churches, shops and warehouses dotting the maps, and infantry units can take cover in any of these buildings. Fighting your way through a town becomes a vicious street-to-street battle, with enemy troops taking pot shots at you from the houses as you desperately try to work out where they are hiding, while out in the country a range of bunkers, guard towers, trenches, barbed wire fences, dragon's teeth and other obstructions are scattered liberally across the battlefield. If you are having problems taking control of an enemy emplacement though, you can always blow it up - almost everything in the game is destructible, from bunkers and houses to bridges. In some missions you can call in air strikes to take out enemy positions, and artillery and mortar fire can also damage the terrain. By the end of a battle the map will be a smouldering ruin, pocked by shell craters and with the collapsed remains of people's houses dotting the devestated landscape. The graphics are excellent, and do a good job of bringing home the sheer destructiveness of a war involving tanks, artillery and bombers. Units are well defined and easy to identify, and the buildings (both in pristine condition and various states of collapse) are incredibly detailed. The explosions are perhaps the real high point of the game's graphics though, with billowing flames and bits of earth and debris being hurled high into the air, while rockets streak past overhead leaving little trails of smoke. Nice...

Sudden Strike 1

While taking a cavalier approach to tactical warfare is almost always the first step on the road to ruin, it's not only Sudden Strike 4's unforgiving nature that will lead to game over screens. Sometimes, no matter how hard you think about strategy, the game throws a monkey in the wrench to ruin it for you regardless. Take what should be the simple act of moving units around the map, for example. You select a unit with the X button, then you move the cursor to where you want them to be, and then you press the circle button to command them to move there. In theory, it couldn't be easier. But in practice, half the time the units don't respond. That's not hyperbole. Literally half of the time it doesn't work. That's not so much of an issue if you're just instructing your units to fill up with petrol, but if you're in the middle of bloody warfare and suddenly your soldiers don't bother moving out of the way of incoming artillery fire it can be infuriating. Exacerbating the problem is the, shall we say, fluid control scheme, which for no fathomable reason occasionally swaps the confirm and cancel buttons around for a handful of commands, as if it's doing it specifically to annoy you.

When moving multiple units you're given the option to properly arrange your selected squad members. This is useful since it allows you to automatically put tanks ahead of artillery when travelling, for example, so the heavy duty units take the brunt of potential enemy attacks. Unfortunately, sometimes when you try to move the same units a second time, even selecting exactly the same formation, the various units might try to occupy different spaces in the configuration for no discernible reason. Imagine you've got five tanks travelling in single file, but the second time you instruct them where to go, the tank that's fourth in line suddenly decides it should be first. And the one that's first thinks it should be last. So you end up with all five tanks doing a merry dance while they're trying to reorganise, usually in the midst of whizzing bullets and fire from skies. This happens all the time, and the more units involved the sillier it gets. By the time you're moving dozens of units simultaneously it's practically a Chuckle Brothers sketch.

It's how you choose to use your units that'll give you the upper hand, and you'll need to think hard about how to get the best out of your troops before heading into any conflicts. Different units are best equipped to deal with different situations, and you'll need to work hard to keep your most valuable units safe. If your repair vehicle gets blown up, you may end up being forced to abandon any tanks that get critically damaged; similarly, if your medics get killed, then you'll have no way of reviving critically injured troops. Luckily, you can scavenge anything your enemy leaves behind as the battle progresses, often letting you pick up field guns, vehicles, and even tanks, which can sometimes be a real difference maker. With a huge amount of variety to the missions, you'll be performing beach landings; calling in artillery strikes so you can storm a town; or finding yourself battered and beaten, down to your very last unit, yet somehow clinging on enough to complete the mission throughout the game's lengthy campaign.

Your liking for Sudden Strike will vary with your gaming tastes. If you hanker after realism and gritty detail, stick with Close Combat or my favourite WWII game Combat Mission. If, however, you want a WWII game that plays tactically more like Total Annihilation than a faithful wargame then chances are you'll have a lot of fun with Sudden Strike. It looks good and the action varies in pace from missions that require stealth to those that are huge, all-out brutal exchanges that leave the battlefield littered with bodies and rubble. Unlike many of the recent 3D strategy games, you can pause to give orders and save at any point, both features that should be mandatory in any RTS. In the final reckoning, Sudden Strike should offer a lot of enjoyment to the more casual gamer, the only notable strikes against it being the poor unit pathfinding and the lack of a longevity-boosting battle builder or skirmish mode.

Buildings do offer protection and I am playig sudden strike with proper knowledge of ww2 weapons and abilities and I am more than amazed and in love with this game. I wish there was more missions. I think they probably had military expert or someone giving them advices how to do this. But anyway for all the folks reading this article, please do not listen to his comments he just did not know about wonderful features and tactics. I suggest you finding a guide and yes only pausing the game is sometimes you will have to do iff you are a beginner or slow it down when if you are experinced. I rarely slow down the game now. From 1-10 I would grade it 9.5

If you manage to finish a level then you'll be ranked on your performance and awarded stars. At least, that is what's supposed to happen. In practice, the ranking system is completely busted. At no point could I ever figure out what caused my ranking to increase or decrease. I watched the star counter displayed during levels and often found it stuck at the lowest it could go before suddenly jumping up to completely full with no rhyme or reason. You can use these stars to upgrade your commanders, giving them more command options or better passive boosts. If you manage to figure out the game's secret formula for three stars then you can replay a level with a challenge active, things like only starting with half ammo or not getting specific units. Completing these goals will earn you a fourth star, for better commanders.

At times I actually thought the game was rather nice to look at. Battles could look impressive, and little effects like light tank rounds bouncing off the armor of a heavy tank really helped sell the game. Unfortunately, harking back to the technical issues of before, Sudden Strike 4 suffers from noticeable frame drops, especially when the battles got too intense. These frame drops could see the game dropping into single digits, and causes new problems like the fog of war not lifting correctly or the selection cursors for air attacks not loading. Animations also broke often: soldiers would get killed but proceed to stand there a solid minute before suddenly playing their death animation. Assuming they actually play their death animation and don't suddenly warp into the T-pose before fading away like they never existed in the first place. I also want to give a shout out to the game's terrible voice actors. I'm not sure there was more than three, and it was hilariously clear most of them didn't have accents even close to the country they were supposed to be representing.
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