Sudden Strike 4 - PC Preview/Impression

The Long-Awaited Upgrade to the Sudden Strike Series Finally Arrives

Game Info:

  • System: PC (Windows, Mac & Linux), PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
  • Developer: Kite Games
  • Release Date: 11th August 2017 (PC), 15th August 2017 (PS4)

Who it Caters to

Sudden Strike 4 is to be the fourth game in the Sudden Strike series: RTS strategy games previously only available on PC. Set during World War II, the Sudden Strike games places you in command of various military forces, including the Allies, Germans, and Soviets, with your objective being to complete campaigns based on real world events. With it being almost ten years since the release of Sudden Strike 3, this fourth installment offers up some pretty significant graphic improvements, alongside various gameplay changes which we'll be taking a look at during this review.

While Sudden Strike 2 went down very well with existing fans, the third game received a less positive response, so this fourth installment should hopefully provide those fans, who are still looking for a sequel to the game they loved, with what they were always hoping for. As for those of you who have never touched the Sudden Strike series, if you're interested in strategy games and up for a challenge then this could be the new release for you, though be warned, there's a steep learning curve for those less learned in the ways of the RTS genre.

What to Expect

From our hands-on preview, Sudden Strike 4 offers both a single-player campaign, as well as online and local multiplayer options, so regardless of whether you're a solo player or a PvP beast you should be set. The single player campaigns offer up 21 missions currently, with several difficulties, as well as special challenges and mission requirements to add something extra if that's what you're after. There's also a Skirmish mode if you want to take on the computer in a battle to the death rather than a scripted mission. The multiplayer is a similar set-up but instead, you're pitted against other human foes in a strategic fight for survival.

An interesting difference between Sudden Strike 4 and previous games in the series will be it's availability on console, with a PS4 version planned for release a few days after the PC version. Although we've not been able to take a look at the console release ourselves, with strategy games rarely finding much success on consoles, it's going to be interesting to see how the developers at Kite Games have handled it. Fittingly the online multiplayer will also be cross-platform, which may be a blessing or a curse depending on how you see it. Either way controller support is offered for the PC version as well, and we can only assume they made the console decision knowing well what they were doing.

Gameplay Preview

Content

With online multiplayer available, as long as the community is there, Sudden Strike 4 offers up hours upon hours of replayability for those who enjoy crushing lesser commanders. With up to eight players in one game, you can expect some pretty huge armies and seriously chaotic battles ahead, as well as of course one vs one option if you'd prefer a slower and more strategic head-to-head encounter. Kite Games are also allowing some degree of modding, which is a big reason why predecessor Sudden Strike 2 has had such a long lifespan, so there should hopefully be plenty of user generated content to come in the next few months.

As for the single player campaign, each mission has a one to three-star ranks that are earned based on your performance, so if you're a completionist you could easily spend a long time just trying to three-star them all. Each of the missions also has an extra challenge that unlocks only after you complete them with three stars, adding yet another level of difficulty. Overall if you like being presented with difficult single player content, Sudden Strike 4 has got you covered. You can also, of course, enter a skirmish game and put yourself against up to four opponents if you just really hate yourself.

A new feature to the series, Sudden Strike 4 introduces Doctrines, offering players three "talent tree" like paths to choose from and utilise on the battlefield. Each side (Germans, Soviets, and Allies) has a choice of three Commanders who specialise in different areas: Support, Armored, and Infantry, each providing specific units with benefits such as new abilities or armor bonuses. This adds a little more spice to the campaign mode, as stars you earn on missions are required to unlock new "talents", and also perhaps adds more tactical options to multiplayer games.

The content certainly exists to appease those who are already into strategy or RTS games, but what about newcomers? Well, we'd say that the tutorials and assistance offered to anyone unfamiliar with the game are somewhat lacking. After the first tutorial mission you're pretty much left on your own with a bunch of units that you've never seen before, and have to kind of work things out for yourself. So if you're new to the game, or more importantly the genre, you might find yourself looking up some tutorial videos before long, as otherwise, it's going to take a while to get used to the fairly niche gameplay of Sudden Strike 4 from our hands-on experience.

Mechanics and Controls

We'll start off by mentioning the controls: Generally speaking, these were exactly what anyone would expect from an RTS. Everything has a hotkey, and we particularly liked how obviously the control groups are displayed at the top of the screen, with unit icons to remind of generally which control group is which. Putting your units into formations is the one thing that could use a bit of work, as when you right click and drag to decide their formation, there seems to just be a choice between "organised" and "all over the place".

Battles are intense, and with each unit being worth its weight in gold, you really need to take it slow if you plan on winning (and getting those stars!) You can pause, and queue up commands so as to stay on top of things, and with the gameplay being rather fast you're going to want to keep doing that to stop yourself losing random riflemen. Although the tactical pause mechanic works just fine we can see how a 25% or 50% speed option could make the game a bit friendlier, given how easy it is to make terrible, terrible mistakes.

Graphics and Sound

If there's one thing that sets Sudden Strike 4 apart from its predecessors more than anything, it's the graphics. The terrain looks simply fantastic, whether it's the green farmland of France or the harsh wintery tundras of Russia, the attention to detail is on point and will continue to impress throughout the campaign. The same goes for the units themselves, with the infantry looking good and remaining easily distinguishable from each other, and the detail and animation on the tanks making them pleasing to watch crashing around the battlefield. The animation for the explosives and generally speaking the weaponry was nothing to write home about, but this perhaps is better in keeping with the realism that Sudden Strike 4 is aiming for.

The sound is a little more average by comparison, with the main thing worth mentioning being the voice acting. Before going on it's worth pointing out that the game is fully voiced, which although often expected these days, is something we appreciate nonetheless. The units themselves have decent voices, with them (to my British ears at least) sounding believable in German or Russian, for example. On the other hand, the voice-overs during the campaign sounded a tad awkward, with the apparently Russian commander sounding a bit like he's from the US, and the German voices having a mix of US and British origins, with the occasional "Kommandant" thrown in. We couldn't help but feel that we were always fighting for the allies, even in the midst of a Russian winter.

Honey's Gameplay Preview Consensus:

So overall, what did we like about our preview/impression of Sudden Strike 4? Well, the challenge of the campaign certainly gave us something to chew on for a while, though it may be something that genre veterans overcome with significantly more ease. It's clearly a complex game with the potential for you to handle campaign missions in numerous different ways, and for multiplayer matches to get very interesting when different tactics come into play. The graphics are just fantastic, and some of the attention to detail was much appreciated, such as when tanks roll over icy lakes and you can see the surface cracking behind them. We also just enjoyed blowing infantry up with tanks, to be honest.

One of those positives can be put the negative list as well though, by which we mean the complexity of the game. Personally, it reminded me a bit of when I started playing DotA2 and there was simply an overwhelming number of things to learn before you even felt semi-competent, which could a big barrier if you can't quite get into the game in the first place. We should also mention again how the gameplay just feels a little too fast for what is supposed to be a slower-paced, more strategic game. We get the vibe that the developers were only ninety percent sure what kind of game they were making, as well as who their target audience was.

Honey's Pros:

  • Very pretty graphics, particularly for the terrain.
  • Solid campaign with lots of extra challenges.
  • Plenty of replayability with online multiplayer and modding potential.

Honey's Cons:

  • Steep learning curve for newcomers to the series.
  • Gameplay is perhaps too fast for a slow-paced, strategy game.
  • Lack of tips and tutorials makes an already complex game seem even more complicated.

Honey's Final Verdict:

Sudden Strike 4 seems to have been made with fans of the previous games in mind, with added flair to attract new players. So if you're someone who played the previous installments and doesn't mind some of the gameplay changes that have been introduced, you might be able to find a new friend in Sudden Strike 4. If you're new to the series, prepare for a world of hurt as you get used to the gameplay, but if you do manage to reach the top of the mountain you may find it quite rewarding.

So, we hoped you enjoyed our preview/impression of Sudden Strike 4, and we would love to hear what you think about the series as well as this new addition on the rise! Whether you're a Sudden Strike veteran or you're just interested in picking up this latest release, be sure to leave us a comment down below.

Kristian

Writer

Author: Kristian

British guy doing student things in Tokyo. Slice-of-life and moe anime are my speciality, though I think something good can be found in almost every show. Outside of anime I spend most of my time feeding on DotA 2 or studying Japanese in a quest to one day watch cute girls without subtitles.

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