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Sudden Strike 4

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Kite Games
Release Date: Aug. 15, 2017


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PS4/PC Preview - 'Sudden Strike 4'

by Cody Medellin on July 17, 2017 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Sudden Strike is back, complete with bigger battlefields, more units, better graphics, new scenarios and legendary commanders with individual abilities.

Pre-order Sudden Strike 4

It has been 10 years since the release of the last Sudden Strike game. While the idea of a World War II real-time strategy game was well-worn territory even when the original game released in 2001, the concept of only having a set squad to work with per mission was certainly distinct and gave the title some identity. Sudden Strike 4 marks the return of the series with a new developer at the helm, and we took a look at some of the offline single-player elements.

Like the other titles in the series, SS4 is squarely focused on tactics by giving you a set number of units to work with. You get some reinforcements once certain requirements in the maps are fulfilled, but for the most part, you have to work with what you have on hand and nothing more. For those without previous exposure to the series, think of it like Company of Heroes, which does something similar.

The limited number of units at your disposal means that you'll play the game a little different from other RTS titles. You can still win if you treat your army as one giant horde going from spot to spot, but that only applies if you're playing at the easiest difficulty level. Any higher than that, and you'll want to split up your team and do things like flanking to get the job done, especially since some vehicles have weak spots. The good news is that the AI does a good job of doing advanced things, like taking cover in vegetation or going prone to increase their chances of survival. The game also gives you the chance to take over enemy weaponry, so killing the soldiers who surround an artillery cannon, for example, gives you a shot at taking that cannon for yourself and using it against them.

Perhaps the best part of the campaign so far are the situations for every mission. For example, Stalingrad contains narrow roads where you can effectively block in troops by blowing up vehicles. Fight on top of a frozen lake, and you'll find Russian troops shooting at the ice so the infantry can drown. One mission even features you fighting from both sides of a map to squeeze in on the enemy in the middle. It remains to be seen how well that variety can keep up in the game's 20+ missions, but if the early ones are any indication, the three campaigns (Allied, German and Russian) will be just fine.

For those curious about how the game will translate to the PS4, the PC preview build we checked out already had built-in controller support. Granted, most people on the PC will never resort to this scheme, but it is nice to get an idea of how it'll work for those interested in playing SS4 on a TV instead. For the most part, the control scheme seems to work fine, as it handles movement speed, unit control, and unit abilities as well as could be expected. Having said that, it also has a bit of a responsiveness issue, as some button presses weren't recognized the first time or execution of the commands was delayed.

Though you can ignore the use of a controller for the game, you won't be able to dismiss the multiplayer so easily. Without anyone online to play against at the moment, we took the skirmish mode out for a spin.  Here, players are tasked with trying to take over several control points in the map for victory. The problem is that the game automatically ends once those points are taken over, so there's no opportunity to perform a come-from-behind victory with the troops you have left. Games end too quickly as a result of the virtual land grab, and the mode feels like an afterthought, especially since the commander abilities don't seem to have any effect here.

The only other thing we noticed that may be of concern is the audio. For the most part, the musical score that plays during battles is fine, and the voices on the field are fairly authentic. However, the voices that bookend each mission and those of the leaders you play are in plain English. It is rather jarring to hear a German officer, for example, sound like someone from America. This may be placeholder audio, since this is a preview build, but it's the kind of thing that stands out.

So far, Sudden Strike 4 looks to be a RTS game worth keeping an eye on. The idea of having a small squad for the duration of the stage is novel, and it'll be interesting to see if all of the levels for all three campaigns can provide enough variety.

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