Sudden Strike

CDV £29.99 PC CD-ROM Out Now

This game requires the following:

Windows 95/98/98SE/2000/NT
Pentium 233MHz or above
32MB of RAM (64MB or better recommended)
150MB of hard disk space.

War games are usually the turn based, loads of depth and seriously dry affairs that only usually appeal to the keenest of war gamers. Sudden Strike attempts something new here; it is a real-time strategy game that does away with the dry atmosphere and it delivers action and atmosphere in spades whilst retaining the depth. Sudden Strike has been out quite a while now. It has sold impressively and after a quick play with the game it is easy to understand why. Fireglow (the game's developer) has taken the Command & Conquer game model, chucked out all that base building aggravation, mixed a load of realism into it and has finally given the RTS games player a game where rush tactics count for nothing.

The game (in case you haven't seen it) is a W.W.II based RTS that is based loosely on actual battles and gives you the chance to apply a lot of strategical thought for a change. I have to admit that when I first heard that the game would allow you to have upto 1,000 units per scenario (this did come out before Cossacks) I thought that it may become difficult to control. These fears seemed to be confirmed when certain websites/magazines claimed that this was so. However after playing the game for the last five days I can honestly say that this fear of mine was complete rubbish. Sudden Strike delightfully includes the feature to make tactical decisions whilst the game is paused. If you are in one of those huge battles and you are feeling pressured then all you need to do is hit the [Pause] key and plan your next move then when you are done hit the [Pause] key again to see your orders carried out. I have to admit to having a preference for turn-based games but the ability to pause and assess the situation is a brilliant one and makes for a very enjoyable experience. Another strategic element is that of unit experience. Your troops gain experience and a very experienced Officer for example seems to have a positive effect on your surrounding troops and vehicles when they are placed inside them. This makes protecting your experienced units a must as experience takes time to develop and is not easily replaced.

Click thumbnails for the big picture.

Sudden Strike comes with over 40 missions that are split into 3 campaigns (there is also an additional mission disk included that includes some exercise missions). The Allies campaign includes something of a tutorial for which basic instructions are given in the manual. The missions vary widely and some are even snow covered so you have to watch those footprints and tire tracks. The animation within the game (both of the infantry and the vehicles) is superb and the explosions are the best seen in any war game to date. Although the game is in 2D it looks fantastic but I do think that your soldiers are a little small at the optimum 1024x768 resolution. It is also surprising just how well Sudden Strike runs on a lower end machine. If your PC is sub 300MHz then the huge battles are still a comfortable proposition as the resolution can be dropped to 800x600 or even 640x480 if needs be.

Although the game is excellent there are one or two points that do disappoint. The manual lacks great detail and leaves you craving a strategy guide. Also within the game itself there is no way of altering the difficulty levels. It would have been nice for an option to auto-supply troops (without the supply trucks). Sure this would make the game less realistic but it might have been a nice feature for those struggling to arrange the supply trucks in the heat of the battle. My only other complaint is that after completing the initial Allies scenario I came out of the game thinking that it would register the fact that I had completed it. Later in the day when I restarted the game I discovered that my progress had not been registered and I had to begin again. The remedy for this is to start the next mission after completing one and save immediately. This may sound like a petty qualm but virtually every other game registers your progress so why couldn't Sudden Strike.

The game is fine for deaf gamers as info is presented textually and the only verbal matter that is missing is the unit acknowledgments of your troops (but this has no bearing on the gameplay). Mission briefings can be recalled in a summarized fashion. The interface is nice and clean but some may find the info area a little small at the highest resolution if you have a 17" or lower monitor.

All in all Sudden Strike is the ultimate W.W.II gaming experience. The action is intense and the atmosphere is fantastic but it never loses sight of the fact that it is a strategy game and a great strategy game at that.

Overall Game Rating: 9/10 A true RTS classic.

Quality of text: 10/10 All info is textually presented

Graphics: 8/10 Units are a bit too small at 1024x768 but otherwise very good.

Interface: 8/10 A nice and familiar interface that requires little learning.

Gameplay:10/10 For W.W.II RTS atmosphere Sudden Strike is unsurpassed.