Sudden Strike II
Windows - 2002
Description of Sudden Strike II
Sudden Strike was to the real-time strategy world what pop tarts is to breakfast. There's nothing particularly complicated or sophisticated about them: one pops out of the toaster and you eat it straight off, lovely and warm -- Mmmn, cinnamon -- and the other was popular, simple, and covered with a sugary topping. Er, oh, well it wasn't a very good metaphor anyway. The idea is good - it was an unaffected and unassuming RTS that did away with complex resource management, and simply allowed you to throw lots and lots of troops at the bad guys. Can't be bad.
Sudden Strike II is the natural progression into sequel-land, appearing two years after the original game. Boldly, it uses pretty much the same graphics engine as its predecessor, existing more as an expansion with added functionality than a true sequel in the sense we've come to understand it. That's not to take anything away from it -- what Sudden Strike II does, it does very well, and there are some substantial gameplay improvements, but what you're really looking at is more of the same.
And hell, what's wrong with that, Sudden Strike made good ground on its simple formula, and is still enjoyed today by plenty of players. The tweakings of Sudden Strike II should instantly appeal to those quick-fix RTS fans. The main and noticeable improvement is the additions - there are a ton of new unit types, and all the units have been adjusted to more realistically reflect their power. You can also take advantage of new unit functionality -- from marine craft used for traversing rivers and landing, to more advanced aerial troops - bombers, recon units and paratroops.
The improved accuracy of the units helps to balance the game, although this clearly doesn't apply in single-player, where the campaigns are gently graded to reflect the state of each nation's military. The Games Domain puppy wouldn't have trouble completing most of the German campaign's missions, given the massive military might of the panzer divisions under your control. The Japanese campaign on the other hand, starts with just a few phalanxes of foot troops, proving a much more challenging mission basis.
Once again, the emphasis is on size, with many of the missions involving control of large troop bulks through difficult situations. Some missions are the exception, even in the armour-heavy German campaign, but it's the exception rather than the rule. It's a little vexing, since it takes a little away from the gung-ho nature of the gameplay (or perhaps, our own gung-ho nature), and time must be spent gathering the separate troop types into groups, assigning them numbers and moving them in divisions. The screen size can't be altered, and there's no way to move the camera from its isometric viewpoint, or even zoom out to select more troops, should you wish to do so. Large troop pushes, for example full-on frontal assaults, must be managed through delicate control of the separate divisions, which can be rather fiddly.
On top of this, the large troop masses can also be their own enemy thanks to the landscape. Often faced with rather dense greenery and obstructive vistas, foot soldiers and vehicles get in each others way, with vehicles just giving up and sitting still rather than attempt to work around. The pathing is much improved from Sudden Strike, but when you're moving hundreds of troops around, you can expect even the most accomplished programs to run into trouble. It could be argued that this should be considered part of the game's strategy, but it does feel sometimes as if your own troops are working against you, especially when some decide to take the long way round.
Also, the fixed viewpoint means that foot troops in particular are teeny-weeny on-screen. Other than the difficulty in telling which troop type is which, more often than not you simply lose several soldiers in the shade of a big tree or two. Only later, when the bulk of your army is on the other side of the map, do you notice that there's a small gap in the fog of war where you started. Jumping back, you realise that Joe the lazy infantryman is having a crafty cigarette under a palm tree with Bob and Tony from the medical corps. Not useful.
All this aside, the gameplay core of Sudden Strike II repeats the goodness that made Sudden Strike so popular. The missions are well thought through, and work well with the troop types with which the game supplies you. The voice-overs at the beginning of each mission are hilariously acted in English, accented with the nation of choice. The Japanese and Russian in particular are well worth a snigger, but at least they do the job of laying out the mission efficiently. There's a pleasant range of options for each troop type including stances (prone and standing) for ground troops, and different modes for weapons. Enemy vehicles can be immobilised and captured, increasing your arsenal, which is extremely useful - there's nothing more cheerful than shooting the crew of artillery, then turning the guns on their own troops. Also, much more of the scenery is now destructible, which makes progress for heavy armour quite a bit lighter as they simply plough through the landscape.
Multiplayer also makes a welcome return, with an exhaustive series of maps, from the small to the massive, with as many as eight players able to compete on a single set of terrain. There should also be a mission editor in the box for map-happy designers to get their teeth. The game particularly suits quick-skirmish multiplayer matches, thanks to the lack of resource management, and much fun can be had from the straight-to-the-action fighting.
In many ways, Sudden Strike II's simplicity is its own enemy as well as its friend. The gameplay is as great as ever for those interested in quick-fix strategy gaming, without the rice chopping/ ore mining/ gold collecting of more complicated titles. The simple cover when pulled back reveals a plethora of troop types each able to contribute cleverly to the game if not in combat, then with mine-laying, sniping, long-distance viewing and other strategies all designed to add depth to the proceedings. But in pushing for ever-increasing scale and flexibility, the diversity trips itself up thanks to the simplistic method through which the game is viewed. Gameplay is good, but fiddling around rescuing lost troops, assigning numbers to a multitude of types and directing small divisions through a complex attack tends to work against the spirit of the thing. Less Sudden Strike, and more a "Strike after a certain amount of consideration and some organisational fiddling".
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Jack Rainer 2021-08-31 2 points
But it's not abandonware. Sudden Strike 2 is available on GOG and Steam https://www.gog.com/game/sudden_strike_2_gold , https://store.steampowered.com/app/612520/Sudden_Strike_2_Gold/
From description of Sudden Strike 2 Gold on GOG:
Contains "Sudden Strike 2", "Resource War" add-on and "Total Victory" map pack
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Buy Sudden Strike II
Sudden Strike II is available for a small price on the following websites, and is no longer abandonware. GOG.com provides the best release and does not include DRM, please buy from them! You can read our online store guide .
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