Sudden Strike 4 – PC Review

Genre: Strategy
Developer: Kite Games
Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
Release Date: Aug 12, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger

The Sudden Strike series premiered in 2000 and has, arguably, had its ups and downs. While it has never been perfect, the series is, for the most part, fondly remembered by fans of the historic RTS games.

I am sure diehard war gamers are getting ready to protest already, and I am 90% sure that, at least, a few irate multiplayer fans are aiming their heavy cannons, but bear with me because, dammit, I had fun! Yes, there are issues and sure, it is a bit old-fashioned, but it has also been polished beautifully and visually and is engaging, graphically stunning, and relaxing.

How can a war game be relaxing? Well, in SS4, it is just about the combat; there are no production queues, political features requiring you to split your focus between leading your troops into battle and developing/defending production resources. Sometimes, that is ok-no, sometimes, that is exactly what I need and want from a war game. There’s almost a purity to a game like this-the simple unadulterated joy a war gamer can find in simply going from battle to battle without worrying about endless preparations, production queues, etc. Yes, many modern RTS games are more complex and more inventive; however, there is a time and a place for games like Sudden Strike 4, which, while old fashioned, also offers an almost simplistic purity in its approach.

The game is visually quite, honestly, stunning; the environmental details are as good in SS4 as any strategy game I have played. The new game engine is well optimized and has plenty of settings, including a nice custom setup to ensure people who are on older PC’s can not only run it but also get a taste of the visuals, even if they are not able to do it all. All in all, the game setup is easy and intuitive while staying complex enough to cover everyone’s needs. The graphics detail is high, environmental effects are really well made, and it helps elevate the game’s experience. I would go one step further and say that with all effects turned on, the game environment is near to amazing and a definite joy to look at.

The audio of the game, be it sound effects, voiceovers, or soundtrack, is exceedingly well produced, and they add beautifully to the already well-created atmosphere. That being said, there is one little caveat; for some reason, the producers have clearly chosen English-speaking actors for the cutscene voiceovers. It would have helped so much with immersion if they had chosen to hire Russian, French, and German as well as English-speaking actors to these parts–or, at the very least, have believable accents in the cutscenes. It is a small thing but I was a little surprised that players weren’t, at least, given the choice of having the voiceovers acted in the corresponding generals’ original language. It would have greatly added to the overall immersion.

The game is generally done really well; the armored units have their appropriate strengths and weaknesses. The units are diverse and interesting-from the repair and engineer, units that support and repair your other units, armored people carriers. Artillery can bombard the battlefield in a multitude of ways (once they are unhooked from the truck and braced, of course). The aerial reconnaissance and attack units support your war effort from the sky and so on and so forth. Everything is here; you might already have felt the “but” coming-that is, except for a few issues, the pathing (i.e. unit movement) is not up to scratch. Pathing in SS4 is on level with many old RTS games (meaning it’s terrible) with units behaving like bumper cars, needlessly running into some minor environmental objects like trees, fences, low walls, etc., not to mention each other, and if that sort of thing drives you crazy, this isn’t the game for you.

The AI isn’t anything special but it is fairly good (if a little on the easy side), and the units are complex enough to offer some challenge and excitement, but I would suggest upping the difficulty. Like I said, everything is here–the atmosphere, the diversity in units, and the obligatory skirmish mode (both for Player vs. AI and Player vs. Player). SS4 is just a shake of a cat’s tail from being great and, ironically, this is perhaps my biggest point of criticism. If you were that close to making a really good strategy game, perhaps even one that could have become a classic, why on Earth not just fix that one major issue? Give the game that final push upwards towards a top spot. The developers should address the difficulty level and pathing issues if they want this to become a classic or even something more experienced RTS gamers will keep coming back to for more as they undoubtedly release content DLCs for it.

Maybe the next DLC or patch will fix it, as, lately, it seems more and more developers are intent on supporting their games for far longer periods. As we recently saw with Stardocks Galactic Civilization 3, even major fixes can be applied through DLCs at a later stage, so the SS4 developers could do the same. I really hope they do end up fixing these two issues because this could really become a mainstay in the genre.

Is this going to become one of the great classics, well, in its current state? Maybe not. However, it IS a nice return to the Sudden Strike game series. Sudden Strike 4 is a major improvement over its predecessor and, to this reviewer, much good old-fashioned fun. It was almost relaxing, just concentrating on war gaming, as opposed to, in addition, having to keep track of production, invention, and diplomacy, but there is a simple purity to it, and that makes it a fun ride.

Sudden Strike 4 is a nice ride back in history to one of the most horrifying eras (I am fully aware of the irony) if you can wrench your mind away from the flaws and let the overall atmosphere wash over you (from the well-produced intro scenes to the almost incredible attention to detail in the environment). There is extra flavor added by giving you the choice of which commander to lead your troops and have the different strategic philosophies influence the way your battle unfolds. From the way the developers managed to illustrate the unbridled chaos and destruction of war, you will find the game an enjoyable and immersive experience.

Pros:

  • Graphics are amazing
  • Accurate, units recognizable
  • Controls are intuitive, yet sufficiently detailed
  • Writing is engaging and authentic
  • Sound is very well done, detailed, clear
  • Uncomplicated fun

Cons:

  • Pathing issues
  • AI limited, could be harder
  • Too simplistic for some war gamers

Adarkchylde gives Sudden Strike 4 a Drastik Measure 7.5 out of 10 (75) (This is as high as I could go with the current issues. Even if I give them a point for the overall atmosphere, the pathing and AI need to be fixed.)

Yes, there, definitely, are games out there with a more diverse and modern feature set, and while it is true that SS4 isn’t boldly going where no war game has ever gone before, it’s not breaking new ground (apart from with shells and mines-there’s a lot of that). Also, while it is true there may, indeed, be better (or at least) more challenging RTS games out there, if you’re looking for something new, a new Sudden Strike game, a more direct/pure war game, or you are just getting into RTS gaming, this is actually a good place to start. Sure, there is room for improvement but you will definitely get your money’s worth of fun.

Sudden Strike 4 is available on Steam for $49.99 (USD).