by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
The last time we saw Sudden Strike 4 was at Kalypso’s 10 year anniversary event back in June, which left very little time for the publisher to build in any new surprises for the World War II strategy game. You’ll find most of what you need to know in Ingvi’s hands-on preview but I’m happy to share some of my own impressions here as well.
Fans of the series will no doubt have one simple request: stay close to the old, update only where necessary. This is pretty much what the publisher has in mind. Sudden Strike is brought into the here and now through a modern UI, updated graphics and a few much needed touches to deepen its gameplay.
The historical battles are back, of course, but you will have a little bit more influence on how they play out than they did before. The pieces are set up in keeping with the actual events, with the only compromise being some adjustments to landmarks and scale to ensure everything fits on the map and that it will be fun to play. Where you get to fiddle just a tiny bit, is in the choosing of a general at the beginning of each battle. Generals usually have a specific affinity for either infantry, armor or support and your choice sets you upon a corresponding path. The difficulty level of a map may differ between the generals, resulting in three different challenges. If you lose, you can even come back to the map later when your generals have gained some experience – you will get to customize them as you progress through the game.
If you remember the mission briefing screens in Sudden Strike 3, you’ll probably remember them as feeling antiquated even then. For Sudden Strike 4, the briefing system has been completely overhauled. Animated arrows and control zones now help the player to easily identify the various objectives.
Technological advances that - could - be visible in the field, usually are. A great example was additional armor for tanks, which show up as sandbags for the Allied Forces, wooden logs for the Russians and metal plating for the Germans. The effects that terrain has on your forces is also made visible. Mud for instance, will cause your troops to slow down, making them more vulnerable to attack or perhaps too late to support forces under fire elsewhere. Some of the winter battles will involve fighting on ice, which does not always have the same strength. It is entirely possible to drive your armored tank onto an ice covered river to successfully take out an enemy position on the opposite bank, only to see it sink into oblivion as the ice cracks underneath.
Dormant for long enough
Sudden Strike doesn’t aim to innovate, and that is exactly as it should be. The franchise has been dormant for almost a decade and what it needs above anything else is a proper helping of TLC from a team that will do it justice. From what we saw at Gamescom, it is getting plenty.