Sudden Strike: Forever
Windows - 2001
Description of Sudden Strike: Forever
CDV's original well-received Sudden Strike has unsurprisingly spawned an expansion. In addition to its UK release, Strategy First will once again be picking it up Stateside, adding to its already fine stable of games that appeal to the elite core of strategy gamers (Kohan, Europa Universalis, Steel Beasts, Disciples, Submarine Titans, to name a few).
While Sudden Strike Forever requires the original to play, it does address many of the complaints and shortcomings of the original title, from interface refinements and rule tweaks to additional unit balance. The game also sports 30 new units, four new campaigns and includes one new allied force, the British. It even offers some of the most requested features of the original, including a map/mission editor and more multiplayer maps and Internet play (including GameSpy support).
This expansion is as polished as the original, blessed with some of most stunning graphics seen so far in an RTS game. It also has fully destructible terrain, the feel of massive engagements and lots of other nice small touches. But despite some noteworthy improvements in the expansion, don't make the mistake of thinking that the game has edged any closer to the more realistic approach that you might expect from this subject matter (which titles like Combat Mission or the Close Combat games accomplish). The game is still firmly entrenched in the playability and fun factor of today's standard RTS fare, distinctions which Tim Chown's review of the original title quite eloquently spelled out.
The expansion's opening movie gives an immediate hint as to what's new in Sudden Strike Forever. The desert campaign in Africa is showcased, and as the British you'll get to discover a load of new units for that force in addition to an all-new desert tile set. The other three campaigns are based on the forces of the original game, each is about three missions long and adds roughly seven new single player missions and 20 multiplayer missions for players to enjoy.
If you played the missions deeper into the original's campaign you'll have an idea of how the scale and difficulty of the new campaigns start; the first mission in the American campaign took me SEVEN hours, according to the mission summary (that's not counting reloads)! Subsequent missions go up exponentially! Three missions may seem pretty brief for a campaign, but the patience and man hours required to complete them will give you your moneys worth, if you don't bang your head through the monitor in frustration before then, that is.
This brings us into this title's main caveat. Whoever told developers today that expansions had to increase in difficulty from the original game by tenfold should be forced to watch 100 hours (non-stop) of mind numbing Judge Judy. Sudden Strike Forever, like many expansions these days, falls victim to the same mistakes that many expansions do - hours of fun mixed with almost equal frustration. But the good points do shine through on some occasions - the German and British campaigns, for example, particular start off with plenty of fast paced and compelling action. They highlight the true assets of the game: massive combined arms carnage and destruction at its best, which blends both the action of defensive and offensive engagements.
Despite some much needed play balancing and rule tweaking, the heavy artillery still seem to rule the game. Most missions (especially the latter ones) are designed so that direct assaults are an unwise undertaking because any attacks with an assaulting force usually get pounded to bits by troops in front who act as spotters for the nearby heavy artillery. It also wastes valuable equipment by blowing up, versus capturing it. Thus the game often degenerates into edging forward with snipers or whittling down the enemy with quick pass-by attacks with your fast assault trucks.
To throw a little salt into the wound, a player will often be lured into a save-reload dance because the game will frequently have 'trigger' areas where massive attacks will sweep over your forces from unexpected directions (including airdrops). This causes prohibitive casualities and almost certain game reloads. Overall, SSF has more of a 'puzzle' feel than the original. Still there are plenty of new and engaging missions to be found and best of all, a map/mission editor to allow players to create their own engagements. Sadly the version I received was in German, which made the documentation a little problematic to examine. The editor does create both single player and multiplayer maps and allows the player to set a wide range of conditions including reinforcements and length of the game.
The expansion fixes and adjusts play balance issues by refining and streamlining re-supply, thus making it easier for units to rearm themselves with ammo crates. Howitzers have been toned down a bit, making them immobile and slower. Other small tweaks, like repair and mine sweeping, have been made easier. Machine guns are now mounted on most tank turrets, and even the pathfinding is a little improved.
Does Sudden Strike Forever redefine the expectations of expansions? No, not really. Does it step one-inch closer to what wargaming fanatics were hoping for? Nope, there's not even a feint in that direction. Can Sudden Strike Forever become a tediously frustrating affair? Yes, some of the missions would probably have Mother Teresa dropkicking the PC. However, the bottom line is the game is polished and challenging, and the inclusion of the mission editor, new multiplayer options, and the new campaign for the British (which is quite good) make the tribulations well worth the trouble.
Review By GamesDomain
Sudden Strike: Forever is an addon for Sudden Strike, you will need the original game to play.
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