“Suddenly… I’m not half the man I used to be… A hand grenade went off right next to me… Oh I believe, in yesterday.” War is, of course, something that’s much better simulated than actually partaken of – a fact of which certain world leaders could do with taking heed. It’d no doubt be a different story if they had to fight in the front lines.
CDV carved out an impressive niche in the tactical war RTS genre with its original Sudden Strike (SS) and with success comes the inevitable sequel. SS2 boasts five separate campaigns set in World War II from 1942 to 1945, in which you can control German, British, Russian, American and Japanese forces.
One of the most striking features of the game is its historical detail and accuracy in terms of the units, guns and equipment used. Everything is fleshed out; you’re not just ordering an “armoured personnel carrier” around, but an armoured personnel carrier with a funny German name and lots of numbers after it (these monickers are totally authentic, mind you).
And giving your Sturmtiger tank orders is fairly easy thanks to the reasonably well implemented interface. All the standard RTS conventions are catered for, such as control groups, and hotkeys are provided for specific actions. There’s one to scatter your platoon for example, and one to take cover in the nearest available spot. On the negative side, however, the unit path-finding can be a bit weak.
You have overall control of some fairly hefty military forces and it’s a game about large scale troop movements played at a reasonably slow pace, where matters like troop morale and so forth have to be taken into consideration. SS2 certainly has that true “war game” feel to it, much like its predecessor. There’s no RTS base building or any of that nonsense; it’s pure warfare tactics.
The visuals haven’t changed much either. They’re still a mix of fairly well drawn landscapes, superb explosions but rather indistinct troops. By cutting edge standards, SS2 feels a little dated. The whole war atmosphere is still well realised, though, thanks in no small part to the impressive sound effects.
While the game does largely remain the same, to quote a cliché, it does add tons of new units, more varied and structured missions (there are over 40 in total) plus revamped computer AI. The latter feature is the most important development as the computer actually plays a little more tactically now rather than just throwing all its troops at you.
The multiplayer mode is very well put together and there’s also a full map editor to play around with. However, when the chips (or indeed landmines) are down, SS2 isn’t really very different to the original Sudden Strike, and that’s disappointing in many respects.