Sudden Strike II
CDV are a publisher that is now synonymous with top notch strategy games. Of course it was only a short while ago that they were the newcomers to the RTS scene. With the release of two brilliant titles this was all to change however. Cossacks and Sudden Strike made the RTS genre sit up and take notice. The time for small scale battles as the only option for RTS fans was now over. For fans of W.W.II games Sudden Strike was a godsend. Hundreds of men to control, masses of vehicles and gigantic terrain maps on which to carry out your tactics all proved to be the ingredients that were too irresistible for RTS fans and the title was, deservedly, a big success. Unbelievably we now have the sequel, Sudden Strike II, sitting on our desk. Let's see if it's as good as the original.
So what's new then? Well for starters the graphics, as no doubt you'll already know haven't changed. The screenshots look quite similar to the original game. To be honest though the 2D isometric viewpoint offers a clear uncomplicated view which is what's needed with a game of this magnitude. Those of you who struggled with the original game, myself included, will be delighted to learn that there are now four difficulty levels, Recruit, Private, Officer and General. You're still not going to able to go out all guns blazing as this will still leave you with a lot of casualties but you will have more room for mistakes and chances to rectify blunders on the easier of the difficulty settings. The terrain is now far more interactive and this has huge implications for the strategy needed to survive. Railways and aeroplanes can be used but you'll need to have a fully working rail track or runway in order to use the trains or take off in an aeroplane. If the runway is destroyed whilst your aircraft is in mid-air you not going to be able to land until it is fixed. Of course the notion of sabotage comes to mind here and you can use it in your favour just as easily as it can be used against you. In fact there are so many new units, vehicles etc. that it's probably best to look at our preview here to see what there is in more detail.
The game comes with a total of 40 missions. There are 5 campaigns for Germany, Japan (the Japanese are playable for the first time), Britain, USA and USSR. The campaigns have all been very nicely set out and the war history nuts among you will no doubt spot some of the major battles that have been replicated in the campaigns. The single missions are also very good and offer a break from the campaigns. Should you manage to complete all of this, which is going to take months of continual play and assuming an expansion hasn't surfaced, then you'll be pleased to know that a scenario editor has been included. Even if you don't like creating your own scenarios there will be some of excellent quality floating around on the Internet before too long.
Just as Sudden Strike was fine for deaf gamers, so is Sudden Strike II. Unfortunately the same complaints we made about the original are still true about this sequel. Unit comments are still unsubtitled, although I admit this would be tricky, and mission objectives can only be recalled in an abridged fashion during a game and this doesn't go into too much detail. The mission objectives given before the start of a scenario are all given in text as well as verbally and can be read at your own speed. The tutorials, of which there are two, are both subtitled. Any events that occur, are highlighted on the minimap by coloured circles and pressing the space bar will take you to these events. The manual is barely adequate. These days all software comes in DVD style cases and as a result manuals tend to be brief. Sudden Strike II is a game of immense depth and demands a thick and full of facts and figures manual. The one that's provided is just too skimpy on the details.
Sudden Strike II takes over from the original as being the greatest W.W.II RTS game you can buy. It may look like the original Sudden Strike but a lot of depth and refinement has been given to the gameplay. No other game puts you in the thick of W.W.II like Sudden Strike II.
Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10 It looks similar but don't be fooled by appearances. The gameplay has been refined and the finished article is very impressive.
Deaf Gamers comment: Unit orders confirmations are not subtitled and the recallable mission objectives are a little too brief but overall the game is fine.