Sudden Strike 3: Arms To Victory Reader Review
The video games industry - like the 'History Channel' - cant get enough of world war II. It has gotten to the extent that some gamers' are weary of these titles, not me; I just cant get enough. Of all the WWII RTS titles out there, Sudden Strike remains a genre classic. Its simple interface and epic battles give armchair generals a chance at smug satisfaction only a time traveling 'Fritz VonRedkiller' can now obtain. Now after years in the trenches fireglow has brought us Sudden Strike 3:Arms to Victory, watch out Poland.
The premise of SS3 - like its previous incarnations - is to eliminate the base building process, forcing you to live off the land. So without the the assembly line, replenishing losses becomes a little more difficult. You begin with your main objective (defend here, attack here etc) and reinforcements are earned by completing objectives, often these are hidden. This type of combat-focused gameplay requires the player to molly-coddle every precious tank and soldier with medics and repair vehicles. Not only that, now the tanks even require fuel. So while the unit production and resource harvesting are not a concern, there are plenty other things to keep you busy. This detail is fundamental in making the Sudden Strike franchise standout from the rest.
The thing that (sudden) strikes me most going through the campaigns is just how little the game has changed since its prequel. The units, missions, even the German soundbites are the same. Campaign wise we're replaying the same missions again. I would've hoped that they picked up a trick or two from the Blitzkrieg games but sadly not.
With SS3 comes the futuristic leap to 3D, what times we live in! They really missed an opportunity with the new 3d map, especially when people think of how high Company of Heroes has raised the bar. The maps are still fully destructible but there is no real interaction, other than the occasional tank running innocent trees down. The maps themselves are articulate and detailed but lacking an overall graphical sheen. Infact that could be said about the graphics as a whole, not ugly, not stunning; just homely. But its not aimed at the pixel-jocks. This game is designed to appeal to the historical-hobbyist, the kind of person who has the discovery channel's 'Battlefield' series on DVD. And in that regard it surpasses any other 3D RTS out-there.
In another regard - a more important one - the game isn't fun. The missions are long, thrills are few and frustrations are many. In 8 years of the franchise only the packaging has changed. The unit pathfinding is still abysmal. Many a good man has been lost because 5 trucks get stuck on the end of a broken bridge. They say Italian tanks can only go backwards, well at least someone could. The constant mess turns glorious advances into meat-grinders. It wouldn't be so bad but every tank is a delicate flower, every pathfinding mistake is a flower cutter. What use are medics, mechanics, supply vans and refueling trucks when a pothole can destroy a Tiger tank before the mechanic can even pick up the toolbox?
The game maintains everything that's great about the franchise. Large scale battles, tactical necessity and genuinely exciting battles; after 8 years though its become tired. Spending an evening to complete one mission isnt as fun as it used to be, especially when most of it is spent preparing for that one exciting battle. The game left me feeling jaded, RTS's have changed direction in the last 8 years; Concentrating on small scale squad based tactics rather than grandiose bloodbaths. Fireglow hasn't adapted and as such i fear we wont see another like SS3 for a while. The niche is still there but i find that im no longer in it. Berlins burning and the war, it would seem, is over for me.
6 / 10