Kite Games have treated us to the 4th instalment of the Sudden Strike franchise, the very cleverly named Sudden Strike 4. After the previous successes, this release has a lot to live up to. This is my second foray into the series, having only played the original release before, so I’m sure my rustiness will be evident as I jump back in. So with my lunch packed in a tin, a flask of tea and a English to German phrasebook, I’m ready for action. We won the war, so I have victory running through my veins. This one’s for you Grandad. Let the war begin.
Sudden Strike 4 is an RTS set during the second world war. RTS stands for Real Time Strategy, this means that everything you do is in real time and you have to be quite strategic. This isn’t rocket science. If you are in any doubt then simply jump into the tutorial and you will learn how to move the screen and your troops and the basics of combat and repair. It’s a simple click to select, click to move basis that gets your troops around the area. Sounds simple enough to me.
Enough learning time, I have a mouse and a finger, what could possibly go wrong?
Sudden Strike 4 offers various game modes based on single player and multiplayer formats. Single player with the Allied campaign mode was the obvious choice to start. I figured I would commence on the side of the eventual winners, so the odds should be in my favour, though tempted as I was to play the German forces just to see that if they had won would we still have all this Brexit talk going on. Anyway, enough politics and more killing. First you choose a doctrine and ally with a commanding officer for bonuses. Secondly you get a briefing, the first one had 4 objectives. This was bad for me, because as a man I can only hold 2 pieces on information at one time. As luck would have it on the screen was my first objective, phew! So everything was going swimmingly until I noticed the mini map on my screen. There were a string of green dots that I had left behind and as such my troops were getting weaker. I hatched a plan. Get everyone to the same bit of the map, so I gathered up my loose troops and sent them to the middle of the map to meet all my other forces so I could coordinate an attack. Unfortunately I put them all in range of the enemy artillery which sucked more than a Pamela Anderson home video. Restart and try again. Dying I have discovered is my thing. I can get tanks blown up, troops dead and recovery vehicles decimated in less time than it takes to eat a marmite sandwich. I need to rethink the game, I’m clearly missing something.
In Sudden Strike 4 the troops move quite realistically, they take cover in undergrowth, will get in vehicles and crawl very slow when half dead. It is very easy not to appreciate the quality of the game if you just rush in to every scenario without thinking tactically. All units behave differently, learn their strengths and weaknesses. Flank your opponent if you can, get round the back and rocket his exhaust. Use the terrain to your advantage, it could be the difference between death and taking longer to die. Attacking head on might get you a medal, and I’m sure your kids will treasure it, but you simply will not get to the next round.
Your troops have health bars under them so you can see to what level they are injured or damaged. They also have special skills that they can employ, this game isn’t just attack, defence and armour. If you want you can throw a grenade, pop some explosives down or stick your head out of the top of your tank. The more you experiment with these skills the better you will get. Grenades will break ice rather nicely and anything or anyone in range will simply sink. It’s the little touches that make the game so interesting, but also what makes it harder to master. If you are struggling to see anything, there is a zoom function, but don’t get too excited, you’re not going to see the looks on the soldiers faces, to be honest you’re hardly going to notice the difference.
Having put the advice above it should be clear that my amazing plan of head in guns blazing was always destined to fail. Don’t panic! Pause the game when you need to to evaluate your situation. Several times I had to take on greater numbers due to suicidal tendencies and it was only then that I realised how bad I was at the game. This game is for someone who can think, look at a situation and analyse it, then make a sensible choice. There are varying degrees of difficulty, the harder you go, the smarter you have to be. There is a save option that you can choose to employ if you get a good start to a scenario, this can save you time by not having to repeat the feat.
Each scenario gives you up to 3 stars for a victory, the aim is to get 3 stars on all of them. There are also medals available as well, the more of these you get, the higher your score.
If you don’t want to commit to a full scenario then Sudden Strike 4 has a skirmish mode. This consists of moving your troops across a terrain type until you are eliminated or the enemy captures 5 strategic points. As far as I am aware there are no other endings available. If you think about it you are too slow, if you rush in you are too dead. I need to work on this one.
Sudden Strike 4 has a multiplayer mode where you can have a quick match or join a game. The quick match is the same as a skirmish with computer controlled forces making up the numbers if there are less than 8 players. My first quick match was me and 3 computer squadrons against 4 computer squadrons. My conclusion is that either no one is really playing this game online, or they were running scared. I had a quick look to see if there were any online games to join, but the 2 games running had German names and my fighting of Germans has been a little lacking in results so I gave that a pass. Eventually I succumbed and joined a game. The scenario was just another skirmish map but it was 4 human platoons against 4 computer ones. Seems that Sudden Strike 4 is quite a tricky game for other people and not just me. Death was swift at the hands of the enemy.
Expect to put long hours in to master this game, get a stockpile of energy drinks and tell your partner that they can go out any night of the week because you’re on a mission (or 2).
The graphics is Sudden Strike 4 do the job. The type of game is never going to have amazing graphics as by design you need to see a lot of the map. You can zoom in to get more detail. Having said that, there are some really nice touches. The way that your infantryman’s body flies through the air when an artillery shell hits him is very well done, I never get tired of watching that, I also am never short of opportunities to watch it either. The terrain is realistic, the movement is fairly good, the shadows of the planes give you a good indication that either paratroopers or bombs are coming. They have clearly gone to a lot of effort to make Sudden Strike 4 pretty as well as practical, and it does not go unnoticed. In a game where the terrain is very important, the graphics have to provide the clues , and Sudden Strike 4 hits the nail on the head.
Sudden Strike 4 uses the audio in the game well, get near a tank that is firing and you will hear it. Move away from a tank that is firing and you wont hear it. The audio does provide a useful service to the game, and paying attention to the sound effects can be very useful, but they are not going to blow you away, well not unless its the aforementioned artillery shell. The music is atmospheric and suits the game well, but again, this is purely background as the main factor is the game itself. Whilst the audio doesn’t add a whole lot to the game, it doesn’t detract either. I still find it useful when my troops yell that they are ready, as sometimes I just forget where I put them.
Sudden Strike 4 is going to be a staple part of RTS gamers repertoire all over the world. If you have patience to build up your strategies, then this is going to be a good game for you. If you don’t have the patience, then this might be a good way to learn or break your PC. Having mastered a few scenarios it was fun to try out different tactics on the same scenario to get higher points scores, so even finishing a scenario isn’t the end of it. I think it’s fairly safe to say that once you get to number 4 in the franchise you are doing something right, so expect Sudden Strike 4 to be played for a very long time to come. I hope that the online aspect takes off as well because outwitting other humans can be a bit trickier, but more rewarding.
The recently added paid-for “Road to Dunkirk” DLC allows you to relive the battles leading upto one of the most daring rescue missions in military history. Featuring 2 new mini campaigns comprising of 4 new single player missions along with new commanders and 10 new units to choose from, Sudden Strike 4 has certainly bolstered its already strong franchise.
This game is awesome. Learn the tactics and defeat the enemy. World War II took 6 years, so why should we expect to finish the game in 6 hours? Kite Games have delivered a great game where everything fits together like a well oiled machine. Looking forward to seeing the mods, hopefully there will be an invulnerability skill I can make use of.
Sudden Strike 4 has strategized it’s way to a Thumb Culture Gold Award with a score of 9/10
Disclaimer. Thumb culture received a code to review this game. This review is completely independent and no troops were harmed in the research.