What was it like to be on the frontlines of World War II? What would British soldiers, hunkered down in trenches, battling valiantly against screaming German artillery, be going through as they attempted to stem the expansion of the Nazi jackboot?
As Germany’s Panzer divisions rolled across Europe, filled with the belief that they represented a new world order, was there anything to rattle their unshakeable belief?
Games set in this era have increasingly endeavoured to show players just what it was like to take part across some of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and Sudden Strike 4 pulls no punches when it comes to putting players in the thick of the action.
While most World War II games come out from British, American or French studios (you know, the guys that won the war), what gives Sudden Strike a more unique perspective is its source: German game company Haemimont Games — the same folks who gave us the brilliant Tropico series of city-building games — offer a new perspective of what war is really like.
This is war, and there is little room for remorse or sentiment. In one of the campaigns in the Winter War expansion, for example, where we’re introduced to Finnish forces, who’re battling against the might of the Soviets, one of the missions you’re assigned is to sneak in behind enemy lines and claim vehicles abandoned advancing Soviet troops who are in such a rush to advance that anything broken down is simply left behind.
Under the cover of blanketing snow, your commandoes have to sneak in, commandeer these damaged vehicles and repair them so that they can be pressed into service against the Soviets. There’s no point turning up your nose at these leftover tanks and AA guns. It’s kill or be killed.
While some games do tend to soften the image of war, Sudden Strike doesn’t do that either: one of the toughest battles players will face in the game is the Battle of Stalingrad, one of World War II’s bloodiest battles. With German snipers entrenched in half-destroyed buildings and camouflaged tanks lurking around every corner, your band of men are the first group of conscripts who enter Stalingrad to bring it back under Soviet control. If the Germans destroy your only tank, there’s nowhere for you to get another one. You’d best plough on hoping that your infantry have enough to overcome the German war machine. Some of the decisions you have to make, though, are truly heart-wrenching. Before every game, you are offered a choice of three doctrines to choose from. While the infantry doctrine helps your front-line soldiers, your tanks and half-tracks would benefit from the armour doctrine. The support doctrine helps your artillery, but you can only select one or the other. The armour doctrine might help your tanks weather a well-placed hit instead of being blown to smithereens, but that means abandoning your wounded infantry to die on the ground. Without the first-aid packs provided by the infantry doctrine, you are forced to watch, as your men lie on the ground, screaming in agony for a medic who must make his way through relentless gunfire. Fun.
In releasing Sudden Strike 4, with its amazing graphics and attentive detail to realise, Haemimont Games have brought a new perspective to war games, and truth be told, that’s what’s made Sudden Strike 4 a really fun game to play.
The Short and Skinny
Name: Sudden Strike 4
What it’s about: Delve into the frontlines into some of World War II’s most gripping conflicts and help turn the tide of battles that have lived long in the memory.
Produced by: Haemimont Games and Kalypso Media
Where to buy: Steam Store, Microsoft Store, Amazon, Humble Bundle, GOG Games, G2A Games,
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Steam Rating: 7/10