Reviewed: October 8, 2001
Released: August 22, 2001
Sinjin and I have always had a difference of opinion when it comes to our favorite gaming genre. He likes First Person Shooters, while I have always favored the Real-Time Strategy games. Even though Sinjin does not favor the RTS genre, he wrote an excellent review of the original Sudden Strike.
Well, you can't imagine how excited I was when he asked me to review the new Sudden Strike Forever Expansion Pack. I just couldn't wait to receive it! When it arrived, I immediately ripped open the box and pulled out the shiny, new CDROM.
While being a computer geek for the past fifteen years, I still haven't learned to read the installation manual or the readme file for any computer software that I purchase. This includes operating system software, utility software, and, of course, gaming software! I placed the game CD into my CDROM drive and I was well on my way to completing my previously saved campaign. I was excited to play Sudden Strike with all of the new enhancements that the expansion pack boasts on the back of the retail box! It was shortly after installing the expansion pack that I realized the error of my ways.
After the Plextor drive finished buzzing and whirring for a few seconds, the expansion pack was installed. I immediately clicked on the Sudden Strike Forever icon that replaced my original Sudden Strike icon on my Windows Desktop, and the screen came to life. The introductory movie played and I was ready to wreak havoc on my enemies. I went to the campaign screen and clicked on 'Load Game' to load up my previously saved game. To my amazement, I received an error that said it was unable to load my saved game! The developers should know that it is taboo to create an add-on that does not work with previously saved games. Luckily, I was able to find a little program on the Internet called X-Mission that would allow me to select the exact campaign and mission that I was on and continue where I had left off.
The original Sudden Strike really stood out from the rest of the RTS crowd due to the fact that there was no resource management and you could quickly get into the heat of battle. The other feature that was very well implemented in the original game was the Fog of War. The fog would roll away as your units advanced into the unknown areas of the map and then cover the areas back up once your units passed through them.
I thoroughly enjoyed the original game and the expansion pack gives you more war-gaming goodness. If you enjoy RTS games, by all means, go out and purchase a Microsoft Strategic Commander. This odd-looking piece of hardware will really enhance your RTS gaming experience. Sudden Strike Forever has added four new campaigns and seven new single missions to the original game. Each campaign features three all-new missions. If I were to create an add-on for a game as great as Sudden Strike, I would make sure that the 'Forever' in the title meant more than three missions per campaign. The original game had at least ten missions for each of the three campaigns, so I feel a bit shorted by the inclusion of only three.
The ability to choose the difficulty level of the game has also been added, and after playing this expansion you will surely need it. Quite a few companies these days believe that to have a successful expansion pack you have to make it more difficult than the original game. This is definitely the case for this expansion. Luckily, you are now able to select one of three difficulty levels at the beginning of a campaign.
One of the top items on my wish list for Sudden Strike was the ability to organize my troops into different formations. Attack formations, travel formations, and defensive formations would have been a welcomed addition to the original. I was hoping that this feature would have been added in this expansion, but alas, it was not. I am still hopeful that it will be added in the future.
The game itself plays almost the same as the original. A few of the core gaming rules have changed, but these are all for the better. You still have the ability to deform the landscape. Your troops are also better at pathfinding with this expansion. One of the things that I would like to see modified is the game speed. Ever since the original game, the game speed has been dreadfully slow even on a higher end gaming rig. This would have been a nice addition to the expansion pack. Maybe we can get the developers to add this feature to a future point release, a 'patch' as most of you know it.
Well, I have to tell you that this expansion looks incredible! The bland colors that were in the original have been upgraded to a rainbow of colors that really give you the sense of being outdoors. Summer, winter, autumn, and desert landscapes have all been added to the game. These new landscapes really add to the realism of the original game. The autumn colors literally explode as you are blasted by the enemies' artillery.
Sudden Strike Forever also adds more than thirty new units to the game including:
Each unit is a scaled down version of the original and the graphic detail is just incredible. The additional graphic enhancements and new units alone make this expansion a must have.
The sound keeps you immersed in the game just as in the original. When you travel near a river, you can hear the rush of water. When your troops attempt to enter an enemy occupied town, the ensuing shower of artillery blasts and machine gun fire will really have you sitting up and taking notice.
There are not any noticeable background sound effect differences from the original, except for the booming sounds of the new heavy howitzer units as they blast craters of land and water from under your units. Take note; when you hear far off artillery fire - Take Cover!!
With the addition of the updated graphics, missions, and campaigns, this expansion will keep you busy for at least a few weeks. Where this expansion really shines is with the inclusion of a map and mission editor. The replayability of this game has increased exponentially with this feature. More and more gamers these days enjoy designing new levels and missions more than playing the game itself.
The map and mission editor is fairly easy to learn and use. You can create or modify a map by placing static object icons on the map. The background sound effects can also be added by placing a speaker icon on the screen.
For those of you that have tried playing online with other games will really enjoy the online play features of Sudden Strike Forever. The game reacts very well even with a dial-up modem connection. The game is very responsive and makes for a fun online experience.
For those of you that have never played an online game before will really enjoy the ease of use of the GameSpy Arcade software. GameSpy Arcade is a program that allows you to easily create an online account and begin playing within seconds of installing the included software. The GameSpy Arcade software is automatically updated to include the newest games as they are released.
I hope you all enjoy this expansion as much as I have. Even with the game speed and saved games issues, this add-on to the original Sudden Strike is an excellent investment. I only wish I had more time to play each and every mission of this exciting new expansion.
The additional features of Sudden Strike Forever far outweigh the few flaws of the original. Yes, I would have liked to have seen more missions in the new campaigns; however, the additional seven single missions somewhat make up for that omission. The new landscapes and more than thirty new units really improve the gameplay, and the included map and mission editor add greatly to the replayability of the original. I highly recommend this expansion, as it will provide many hours of enjoyment for veterans of the original.
FireGlow has proven themselves to be a leader in the RTS genre. I am very excited to see future offerings from this company as they have shown that they have what it takes to release a quality product.