Fireglow follows up its near million seller Sudden Strike with a sequel featuring more than 40 new missions, playable separately or in five campaigns, 50-plus new units (bringing the total to more than 150), and up to a thousand active units per scenario. In the five campaigns, based on specific World War II events, you play as one of five different nations at various points in the conflict. In order of difficulty, the campaigns feature Germany (1943), the United States (1944), Russia (1944-1945), Britain (1944), and Japan (1942-1945), though they can be played in any order.
The huge array of units in Sudden Strike II consists of multiple types of infantry, artillery, trucks, supply trucks, jeeps, tanks, armored vehicles, motorcycles, mobile anti-aircraft cannon, mobile missile launchers and artillery, ships, trains, cruisers, and aircraft. The game utilizes a three-quarters top-down viewpoint, with non-visible areas enshrouded in a "fog of war." Orders, unit movement, troop gathering, formations, and other actions are accomplished through a menu system and a point-and-click interface.
Weather conditions (clear, rain, fog, or snow) and types of terrain (ground, water, or shallows) affect unit line-of-sight, neutral units can eventually be recruited to play on your side, and the use of propaganda can actually entice enemy officers or generals to defect. Multiplayer action is supported via GameSpy, and the goal is to defeat all other enemies and remain the last one standing, regardless of the number of points earned.
Ever since Eidos' smash-hit Commandos first shook the monitor of many PC gamers, an increasingly large number of publishers have begun to note the public's fascination with the events of World War 2; sparked by films such as Saving Private Ryan, and enthused further by gritty interactive editions like Medal of Honor, most recently. Sudden Strike 2, approaches the genre from the other end of the spectrum however, picking up in the vein left off by the original Sudden Strike, a good seller for CDV a couple of years ago. Fans of the original will be pleased to hear that not a lot's changed, either, with Sudden Strike 2 being grittier, more realistic and just as uncompromisingly cunning as ever. True, the game's five separate (and rather large) campaign's do now have easier difficulty settings, but Sudden Strike 2 is by no means a forgiving game, and fans of other real-time strategy titles still aren't likely to find it an approachable experience. Moreover, the game hasn't compromised one iota from its original intentions, to be the most historically and tactically realistic real-time strategy enactment of WWII. This objective it achieves with some style.
The gameplay is still devoid of any building or resource balancing, alienating it instantly from the likes of C&C, which take a broader and less 'intense' approach by covering more elements, in simpler detail. Instead, Sudden Strike 2 is all about tactics, deep strategic planning, slow, deliberate progress - and above all, intelligence and patience. Success, does not come cheaply, and you'll have to use your units very sparingly, as you won't get any more unless you're fortunate enough to receive reinforcements. Unlike, the sci-fi visions of C&C, the units of Sudden Strike are rather more realistic too, and as such have similarly crippling limitations, they're slow, and easily damaged - hence why a conservative approach will be required to win. The units are even more realistic than in the original, fans will be pleased to note, and developers Fireglow have spent a great deal of time ensuring that battles are balanced as historically accurately as possible. This historical accuracy is perhaps the most daunting aspect of the game, even to fans of the genre, as Fireglow and CDV have tried their hardest to make war feel as tough, gritty and hard as it is. The game is not forgiving, and the battles are fought with the fervency one would imagine from a real battle. This is commendable, but by no means always as 'fun'-focused as many RTS titles. As well as the game's numerous new missions, et al, come a new army, in the shape of the Japanese battling away in the Pacific. This adds a further sense of completeness to Sudden Strike 2 as an accurate representation of the war, though woe-betide those who take charge of the Japanese in certain campaigns; their war in Asia was heavily tipped against them towards the end. New units abound, then, which leads me onto the visuals...
Whilst not stunning, nor a patch on the latest C&C (which I recently had the pleasure of playing), the graphics are functional, and display an enormous number of units on-screen at once, an essential part of the title's focus on strategy. The units are nicely detailed too, as can be the terrain, but ultimately its all sprite-based 2D, and can't rival the rotating cinematics of a game like the forthcoming Generals. Regardless, the visuals do convey the important information, and are quite atmospheric in the thick of battle. To bring matters to a close then, as you may have guessed already, Sudden Strike 2 is very much aimed at those who enjoyed the original; fans of the tactically-heavy, and ultimately realistic will have a field-day - whilst the rest may find it a little too serious. This sequel adds much to improve upon the formula, adding new multiplayer options, more depth to campaigns, much more unit realism, the list goes on.
People who downloaded Sudden Strike 2 have also downloaded:
Sudden Strike, Sudden Strike: Resource War, Stronghold: Crusader, Theatre of War, Star Wars: Empire at War, Stronghold Legends, Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy, Sid Meier's Railroads!
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