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What happens when you take the European
theater of World War II, mix it up in an RTS and then remove the
burdens and micro-management associated with resource
gathering? Sudden Strike happens. What that game did, this game
promises to improve upon. Thank God this title is then appropriately
labeled Sudden Strike 2, because if someone slipped the words
Rebel Assault on the box, there'd be all kinds of trouble.
We got to find out just what the developers at FireGlow and the
publishers at CDV were up to with this sequel when some of them
dropped by the office the other day. After I found out where around
IGN they had landed (you know the preview is going places when
only the second paragraph contains a filler joke that causes no
degree of chuckle or smirk), I drug them in and forced them to
display their wares, in more ways than one. What they had was
quite the impressive surprise, in more ways than one. It may look
like its father, in more ways than one, but Sudden Strike 2 already
appears to have much more brewing just inches under its very
familiar outward appearance.
What is Sudden Strike 2 and what makes it a true sequel? This is
what makes Sudden Strike 2 what it is, a chip off of the old block...
50 new units
Planes that utilize working airfields
More easily distinguishable units
Historically accurate damage model
New map editor
Four difficulty levels
Crews for vehicles determine functionality
Vehicles can be captured
New order options
New morale system
Reworked eight player multiplayer
Destructible background objects
1,000 units per scenario
You see that? That's a features list. It's only when the sheer amount
of bullets in the list causes your retina to burn and retain a
permanent image that it can be called complete.
The long and short of SS2: 2D RTS, no resource management,
World War II era.
Paying no attention to the images of missions transpiring within the
newly included Pacific theater, one could easily mistake this sequel
for the original. Graphically, the games are very similar -- not a con
in the collective book's of Steve and Ivan. The SS series may be
two-dimensional by design, but it's meticulously delivered with
remarkable detail. Vehicles and environments are exquisitely drawn. Moreover, keeping the title on a flat
plane lets the system requirements to stay well below mind exploding. Anyone play Global Ops, Medal of
Honor, or Dungeon Siege lately? Besides, when the explosions and effects are as good as this, there's
no real need for that extra dimension of perception. It's like complaining that Metal Slug doesn't look
good enough simply because the background can't be explored.
Unless laptop audio has now become an accurate way to deliver a title's aural acuteness, I'll have to
reserve remarks in that department until I can fully enjoy a build of the game with headphones or
surround speakers (demo in May, release in August), or at least enjoy a build of the game without the
ever-present joys of SHHHHHHHHHHHH, scratch, SHHHHHHH.
Past the dribble and to the point, Sudden Strike 2 promises to come complete with a slew of changes
over its predecessor. As CDV representative Martin Lohlen says,
"We did a whole bunch of improvements, and most were at the request of gamers and fans on
And mother said trolling the bulletin boards for six hours a day was a waste of time. It's sad how little
she actually knows. School my ass. Of these many improvements that you perhaps had direct influence
on while ditching the many responsibilities of actual life, "the biggest change is probably the four new
difficulty levels," Martin says.
The first two will be easier than caring for a Saharan camel, an animal that can just sit around in the
yard and occasionally drink from the pool and be completely content with life. The latter two will be far
more akin to the first game and much harder to contend with (who said Tal?). Slowly and strategically
moving across the map solving war's version of puzzles and predicaments will be paramount to
success. The easier difficulties will allow anyone to jump in and play, just still not with a "rush the map
with everything available mentality," but the latter two will be where the pros prefer to get their kicks.
Of course, difficulty levels are nothing without content. Included in this outing are a new Japanese
campaign (that compliments new individual campaigns for the Americans, Russians, Germans, and
British), a new Pacific island environment, and plenty more. We were shown what a small piece of
beach and jungle near Okinawa looks like and must say the place is bright, sandy, and very different
from the smashed Europe we've been treated to in the past.
In keeping with historical accuracy, the combat on these islands will be decidedly in the favor of the
American expeditionary force (too much Robotech as a child has perverted my mind). Which segues us
to what Martin says is perhaps the most important change/addition to SS2, a greater degree of
historical accuracy through unit balancing.
It doesn't matter if the odds are eight to one, French Chars will stand no chance against a German King
Tiger, the baddest of the bad tanks. This nightmare of all Allied soldiers is capable of decimating the
ranks of lesser armies, for it is the granddaddy of battle armor. Martin explains.
"Most players are into WWII, not games... Many of these people are also history nuts calling
for realism.... In Sudden Strike 1, a tank is a tank. If it was strong...nice. But it still played like a
tank. Now it plays like a superior weapon."
Indeed, much like the war itself, possessing the superior weapon means possessing victory. Numbers
are not always the key to success, a fact that means more strategy will be included in Sudden Strike 2
then has previously been seen in the series. Seeing a King Tiger obliterate wave after wave of French
Chars while sustaining direct hit after direct hit with ne'er a consequence is an amazing sight to behold.
This eliminates a lot of the historical inaccuracy, and, contrary to what was my initial doubt, supposedly
manages to actually maintain the balance, the play, the fun.
"Being more historically accurate worked itself out nicely. Fortunately we could stay very, very
close to historical parameters because they balanced themselves out. That's kind of how
everything turned out [In the War] anyway."
That's a notion that almost beats one on the head with its blatantly obviousness. Why shouldn't
following history's account of the war and its traits not make a strategically sound transition to gaming?
There was strategy and decisions to be made long before there was a game to make them in. Real
strategy in real-life begets real strategy in gaming, I suppose. All units have weaknesses. It's just a
matter of getting behind them and laying a rocket straight into their behind to exploit them. Blowing ass
is fun... I'm not quite sure that came out as planned. But then that's the unpredictable nature of war!
Moving on past the effervescent embarrassment that is me, SS2 will also
include what the some 1.2 million fans the world over have been long clamoring
for, controllable planes (interceptors are present, but given patrol orders
opposed to direct movement orders in flight), trains, and boats. Working
airstrips and rail ways bring the former two together and make their existence
possible and manageable.
No longer appearing from the incomprehensible void beyond the edges of the
universe (limit of the map), planes are now bound to airfields. Landing, taking
off, loading up on troops and cargo... Everything is done from this most
treasured stretch of asphalt. If it were to get cratered in an artillery strike, for
instance, a plane that is in the air cannot land. That airfield must first be fixed by
a directed repair truck or else birds in flight run the risk of depleting their fuel
reserves and plummeting into the ground. That's bad.
Trains work in a very similar way, but unlike the airfield that requires a repair
truck to come out and fix the road so that it can takeoff and land planes, the
train will use its own crew to fix breaks in the track as it encounters them. You
can begin to clearly see where Sudden Strike differentiates itself from most
other games of the sort. The soldier is no longer cannon fodder, he is of
importance. He is the backbone of your army, the pilot of your truck, the surly
mechanic who sabotages your tank so that he can charge you more the next
time you come in for a stem lube.
But why maintain airfields, train tracks, or care about crew in the first place?
Cargo planes can drop troops, but not vehicles (though the idea was toyed
around with), and trains can detach sections of themselves to use as heavy
artillery. Crew is what operates these vehicles, and all others. Without them,
functionality will be lost. Imagine a tank with one man being able to only move,
and a tank with two being able to move and shoot.
With all of the above in mind, chew on this scenario: sneak a group of soldiers
into an enemy airfield by using the dynamic fog of war that works on a principle
of relative position (objects cast a fog of war behind themselves, requiring a
direct line of sight be established to see what's going on) . Use troops equipped
with sniper rifles to kill the crew of the birds, steal the planes, leave a few
sacrificial soldiers behind to damage the runway behind you, thus preventing
None of this would be accomplishable had the weapons in the game not been
designed to be more or less effective against vehicles or the people inside of
them. Flamethrowers and high-powered rifles will take the heads off of the
snake but leave the body intact, while tank shells are designed to mash
everything up good, or bad, as it were.
A ton of other little comparatively minor details are being included. Morale, as
an example, plays out as a compliment to experience. A general near the troops
causes inspiration; being shot at without the chance to return fire causes angst;
dropping propaganda leaflets from above causes confusion. Still more nuances,
soldiers can ride atop tanks, go prone, hide in bad weather, and so forth.
Everything is of coursed balanced with pros and cons. Go prone... Pro: harder
to hit, easier to sneak. Con: slower movement, decreased sight. Ride atop a
tank... Pro: ride atop a tank. Con: don't shoot, get killed by snipers.
On to multiplayer -- undeservedly overlooked, as Martin puts it, "mainly because
it was different."
The point of multiplayer is to hold a group of zones. Holding any group of zones
grants the controlling player reinforcements. Reinforcements means being
better able to make your foes pay dearly for their sins. Grab your reinforcements
early and eat your candy bar quickly or hold off until the end and try and make a
final push to become strengthened while the others are weak. There are three
parameters that can be set before each match, though there is but this one
single mode. Peacetime determines how much time before a match players are
allowed before the zones can be captured (action can still take place). Hold
duration determines how much time a faction must hold a combination of these
areas to be awarded additional forces. Finally, hold time required is the amount
of time a player can go without holding a single zone before being ejected.
Depending on setting, this last parameter can either prevent or allow last man
standing style matches.
Reinforcements can also only come once fore a group for each flag
combination. Once reinforcements from a group of zones have been
accumulated, the only reason to hold any one of the zones within that group
would be to fend off the advancements of others, or to keep the holding time
When you acquire a zone it lights up on the map and alerts everyone of your
presence. Thus keeping armies hiding in the advanced fog of war just on the
outskirts of the area is a sound tactical decision until suddenly striking and
seizing the day becomes a viable option. Patience is a virtue, as they say.
Crazily enough, only a single unit is needed to take a zone. Imagine a huge
force pushing its way through a blockade with only one tank eventually breaking
the lines. This tank gets disabled, the crew jumps out, one soldier leaves his
dying comrades in the dust and bolts to the zone. All that's needed is a touch
and he'll reinforce his army; he'll save the day. Interesting, no?
"It's really different from what you're used to, but fits the game well."
A nice send off, Martin. It'll be interesting to see how the final comes together.
Since the game is already so close to completion, it'll be even more interesting
to get my hands on it and teach fellow IGNers the meaning of Axis power (I like
being evil, it bolsters my manly image).
Solid premise, solid presentation, apparently solid strategy. The hopes for
Sudden Strike 2 are certainly high.
Laut CDV läuft der Vorverkauf sehr gut, das Spiel stößt bei der Fachpresse auf positive Resonanz. Die Mags werden Ende Mai ausführlich über SuSt2 berichten !