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Review: Sudden Strike 4: Complete Edition

The thunder of war roars again as Kalypso Media releases Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection from Kite Studios. The critically and commercially acclaimed WWII real-time tank-focused strategy game has come a long way from PC’s to consoles. As one of the very first games I played at PAX WEST in 2016, the game was first released on PC in August of 2017. The game soon found its way onto the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game has received a plethora of updates, including brand new campaigns to fight in. Now, all previously available content has been rolled into one complete package with the release of Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection. With this collection, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection marks itself as one of the very best military-themed real-time strategies to date, especially on consoles.

The annals of World War II history are carved from the brave men who fought against the fascist rule, from the beaches of Normandy to the fiery ruin of Berlin. Through tireless and exhaustive fighting, Allied and Soviet Forces took the fight from the sands of North Africa to the fields of France to the icy hills of the Ardennes and the chilling snowscape of Kursk. For American forces, the fight continued on the other side of the world, as the United States fought a bitter war across air, land, and sea against the Empire of Japan and their elite Imperial Navy. Through several grueling years, the thunderous sounds of war echoed throughout the world. Cities, towns, and entire livelihoods were destroyed and the lives of millions were lost in the entire conflict. When the final shells were fired and the last bombs were dropped, Germany capitulated and Japan surrendered. Over half a century later, the stories of World War II are still being told and the lessons of the commanders and soldiers on the ground are still being taught. Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is a real-time strategy game that retells these events from all sides. From the Allies to the Soviets to the Germans and Japanese, players become the Commander and relive the most brutal and chaotic tank battles of World War II.

Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is a real-time WWII strategy game that emphasizes using tactics and available resources to complete the level. Players will be in command of armored vehicles, soldiers, and occasionally, aircraft. Using a variety of tactical commands, players use their intellect and wise decision making to achieve victory. The difference between Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection and other real-time strategy games is the fact that players use the resources available to them. There are no factories to construct and no ability to generate more units. While reinforcements do arrive in some levels, the ability to successfully command your forces and defeat your enemies with minimal loss is vital to the success of the overall mission. Losing too many units early in a level can doom you and your units later on in an operation. The ability to wisely use armor, air support, and cover for your soldiers is not only essential for success but also to gain the maximum score for the mission. The score comes in the form of stars. The highest number of stars to attain is three. The more stars mean more opportunities to level up your chosen field commander. At the beginning of each mission, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection allows players to choose one of several historical Commanders. Depending on the campaign chosen, the selection ranges from Erwin Rommel to George S Patton. Each commander has their own strengths and perks to select, and the availability of those perks can be upgraded following the stars received in missions.

The opening levels of Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection has players playing as the Germans, launching the blitz across Europe. The opening missions help instruct players on how to command their forces and how to properly employ their tactics on the battlefield. With Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection, the tactical commands, and menus are all tied to the PlayStation 4 Dualshock 4 controller or the Xbox One gamepad. In most RTS games on consoles, the controls can make or break an experience, and fortunately, the controls for Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection work very well on console. However, there is a learning curve, as various radial menus can be accessed to initiate airstrikes, repair tanks, order soldiers to dismount, and various other tactical commands. There is more depth, depending on the unit chosen, as tanks can be ordered to bombard a certain position locked in the fog of war, or selected to focus on a specific enemy target. Additionally, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection features a circular selection tool and a quick selection tied to the D-Pad. Players can use the D-Pad to select specific categories of units, from support vehicles to offensive armor. The selection tool allows players to select either a small or large group of friendly forces. Regardless of what type of unit is caught in the circle, they can be selected and given orders. You are the Commander, and if you want to lump support vehicles with heavy armor and rush them into an enemy defensive line, that is entirely your prerogative in Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection.

Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection hits hard and fast, and will certainly challenge the keenest of Commanders. War is relentless and so is the A.I. Players can expect to fight for well over an hour to complete a mission, as the enemy will be determined to destroy your armor and subsequently, your unprotected infantry. The objective of each mission varies, from reconnaissance to seizing control and the utter annihilation of opposing forces. For myself, this game certainly provides a firm challenge, even on Normal difficulty. Some missions lasted well over an hour, but fortunately, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection allows players to save in the middle of missions.  Though it must be restated that tactics are everything in Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection, and if players simply rush onto enemy positions, they will be devasted beyond repair and have to restart the entire mission. The key is to flank, attack enemies from behind when possible,  and bombard from afar when possible. Additionally, players must keep their vehicles fueled and loaded, as well as repair them when damaged. Protecting the smaller, but defenseless support vehicles are vital as they will repair, refuel, and rearm your vehicles. Losing support vehicles will increase the chance of failure in Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection. There is certainly a lot to think about when playing Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection, but experienced players should be able to adapt quickly. For those completely new to RTS games, an Easy mode is available as well which makes a more accessible tactical experience.

The gameplay of Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is constantly rewarding. Each encounter with the enemy is intense, but each victory over the enemy is exciting. Every loss taken feels like a significant blow, but also a reminder to fight harder and do better. The surprise happenings on the battlefield, from rescuing allied forces to receiving reinforcements are small cheers for success. Every enemy soldier and tank downed is another step to success, and using air support on helpless ground forces is a small fist-pump of progress. While exhausting, there is a good, humbling feeling, knowing that the enemy was bested by your tactics and a wise application of firepower. This intensity is met with the game’s remarkable presentation. The thunderous pounding of tank shells penetrate the battlefield and their terrifying impact on metal, concrete, or Earth sends chills down the spine. Rubble and soil erupt from the ground and the snap of gunfire shatters the quiet. Tanks roar through rubble and smoke determined to crush all in front of them. Planes pierce the sky and deliver a devasting payload from above.  The changing of the skies, from a clear day to grey clouds and rain emphasizes the irony and bleakness of war. Granted, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is still a video game, and the perks system tied to your chosen Commander does bend the rules slightly, such as all crew members of a tank surviving the destruction of the tank or the ability to carry anti-tank mines with crew members. A cinematic score by Peter Antovszki helps bring a sense of film-like flair and substance to the overall experience as well. Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection looks and feels authentic, with sharp and gritty detail both visually and aurally, but the gameplay is remarkable, intense, and thrilling. The attention to detail, from the battlefield to the units on-screen, creates a hallmark recreation of realistic events. Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection feels like an experience that would be specially prepared to educate a prospective audience on the grueling realities of World War II. It’s clear that the team at Kite Games went through their research and acute observations of historical data, successfully translating all that the team learned into the gameplay experience of Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection. It’s a striking recreation of events, and in a time when video games aren’t primarily focusing on WWII, it’s fulfilling to see an RTS game that is not only set in WWII but goes out of its way to historically recreate the most pivotal armored battles of the war.

With Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection, all previously released content is now on one disc. All patches are included, including a plethora of missions and campaigns. Outside of the main quest, which will certainly provide a long-term tactical challenge for first-time players, there are multiple campaigns, spanning from the Pacific Theatre against the Japanese to the sands of North Africa and the shores of Dunkirk. Each campaign introduces entirely new missions and vehicles making for a total of 26 additional missions and 99 new vehicles to command and utilize in combat. With the addition of online multiplayer, which can put players against other players or challenge AI, there is a lot to offer for RTS enthusiasts and those with a historical interest in WWII. The collection also comes with a digital soundtrack from Peter Antovszki and a digital manual as well. For those dedicated to seeing all campaigns through, Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection will last well over 40 hours, with plenty of replayability for successfully completing all missions.

Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is among the very best offerings in WWII and real-time strategy games on the market today. The amount of detail poured into its visual presentation is remarkable and the tactical depth is just enough to keep the experience fast, fluid, and challenging. The plethora of missions will keep players coming back for more tactical engagement, and the variety of those missions will offer something new each time for players. There isn’t anything that can be said that is wrong with Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection. It provides a huge abundance of gameplay and opportunity for those determined to best the enemy. Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection is a fine collection and an excellent game. Command your forces, ready your troops, and roll your armor, because you have a war to win.

Sudden Strike 4: Complete Collection was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 thanks to a key generously supplied by Matt Granelli of Kalypso Media

Developed by Kite Studios

Published by: Kalypso Media

Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam

Price: $49.99

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