Sudden Strike Review

Multiplayer support is provided via GameSpy, but that support is spotty at best. Most players use GameSpy to announce the IP address of a game's host machine and invite others to join the game directly.

Multiplayer games consist of teams of players attempting to capture blimps placed at various points on the map. Capturing a blimp rewards a team with additional reinforcements. There are no restrictions on which country (US, Germany, or Russia) a player can choose, so multiplayer games are often odd free-for-alls, with each player selecting his/her favorite country. What's more is that it is difficult to tell which units belong to whom - a real problem in a game with up to 12 players. You'll often find yourself looking at a tangled mess of units without being able to figure out which US units are yours, your teammate's, or even your enemy's. Not only is this not even remotely accurate, it's not that much fun. Sudden Strike really should have made it possible to play historic battles - or even fictional battles with a set of objectives - and then forced players on a team to take control of units belonging to the same nation. Instead it includes a multiplayer mode that will quickly frustrate and/or bore most multiplayer fans.

While Sudden Strike is not a wargame, it does claim to realistically model the units in the game. This really is not the case. Many gamers will be frustrated when they send several tanks to clear an infantry squad from an area and find them quickly reduced to smoking hulks. In addition, the game's manual is on the way too thin side. A game which models so many units should at least provide a detailed description of each unit's capabilities and how it should be deployed.

Another problem, and it is a very annoying one, is the game's pathfinding. Often I would give a squad of soldiers a move order, only to find half of them scattering around the map, taking the very long way around to meet up with the other half of the squad. Armored units will leave roads to happily cross minefields and die a fiery death, even when the road is the most direct route to their destination. This is very frustrating, to say the least, and requires you to often babysit your units as you lead them to their destination almost one step at a time.

The game's AI problems go beyond pathfinding. Most games consist of the two sides throwing units at each other until one wins - there is not much in the way of tactical savvy on the computer's part. This may be in part due to the fact that most units in the game are equally effective against most other units and thus an entire dimension of battlefield tactics is absent in Sudden Strike. There's not much chance the computer will surprise you or that you'll learn from its tactics - game after game you'll just have to sit there and slug it out.

The game's campaign mode is disappointing. Most missions are not based on historical battles, and there are no consequences for losing a mission other than that it will have to be replayed. Sudden Strike would have benefited greatly from a campaign game ala Panzer General, which had historically based missions and a branching mission sequence which depended on your success in prior missions. In addition, each of the missions opens with a long-winded briefing which somehow manages to make the mission objectives ambiguous. You'll often open the mission without a very clear idea of what you need to do to win. What's worse, though, is that the campaign game does not save your progress automatically. Unless you specifically save each mission, there is no way to pick up where you left off or to return to a particular mission and replay it.

Finally, the game does not ship with a scenario editor. This is a strange oversight, as many gamers interested in the World War II era would certainly want to recreate their favorite battles.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%. 200 MHz Pentium CPU; 32 MB RAM; 6x CD-ROM; 320 MB Hard Drive Space; Mouse.

System Requirements:  266 MHz Pentium II CPU, 64 MB RAM, 4 MB Video RAM, 4x CD-ROM, 340 MB Hard Drive Space, Mouse.

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