Sudden Strike 4 is a high consequence RTS game with a lot of heavy decisions to make, but at the end of the day is there any replay value?
That is the question I kept asking myself while playing through the recently released game’s campaign. I walked into this entry in the series having not played any of the prequels, but in general I consider myself a fan of strategy games. The moving parts are all there: decent graphics, various units to command, diverse tactics for units, multiple factions to play (World War II armies), realistic weapon sounds, and a hefty story mode to enjoy.
The game’s campaign takes you through multiple battles with various units at your disposal and the game forces you to be smart with those units because reinforcements are far and few between. Tactics and smart decisions is what the game is all about and Sudden Strike 4 executes this well in campaign mode to create the tense and anxious feeling of combat. The fog of war is thick and enemies can come from anywhere so putting your armies in smart positions keeps your soldiers alive and well to fight another fight. During the campaign you are routinely thrown into what (to the best of my knowledge) seem like historically accurate battles during the second world war. Ultimately while I think the game’s campaign is overall an entertaining experience for RTS players I did find some consistency and pacing issues, with some levels being noticeably more enjoyable than others.
As I mentioned at the opening of the review, I didn’t really know anything about this game going into it, and I wound up prepping myself for a somewhat different experience, perhaps more in line with a game like Company of Heroes. I was surprised to find that when you enter a level in Sudden Strike 4 you already have pretty all the units that you will be given. There’s no base building aspect to the game, which is normally a big draw for RTS players. It’s more a stylistic choice and not necessarily a problem. The game is built in such a way that it deliberately adds more consequence to the decisions you make with your armies. For my personal tastes the base building aspect is something I really enjoy in RTS games, so while I found myself disappointed by its absence, I tried to look at how the game was supposed to be played and enjoy it that way.
Though the game is fairly well reviewed on Steam, if you spend any time exploring the comments section you’ll find a litany of complaints revolving around the game’s lackluster multiplayer experience. Small maps, balance issues, and bugs plague the system but honestly I’m not even entirely sure that I understand the objectives of the mode. When I played against AI I tried to capture the points the game wanted me to, but ultimately I found that I lacked the knowledge or understanding to do so, as my small unit that I was given died almost immediately to enemy fire. Even if I had been given some kind of tutorial that would help me sort out which button to press to capture the point I don’t think it would have really made my experience all that much better.
Sudden Strike 4 boasts a somewhat strong story mode with a standard list of RTS features. I feel like as a whole the game is passable but I didn’t really find that it was able to offer anything you can’t find in another more polished and content heavy RTS game available now. That’s to say nothing of what I consider to be a relatively steep price tag of $49.99. Unless you’re a die hard World War II fanatic, or longtime fan of the series I think that if you’re looking for a new RTS to play you may want to hold off on this one until a sale.