Seemingly motivated by nothing in particular, CDV have circulated some new screenshots of the recently-released World War II strategy Sudden Strike 3. What struck me about them is the artistry involved in making this kind of game: making so many tiny men, trees, and archaic vehicles. It's a little like videogames are preserving, even exemplifying, the kind of impulses towards miniaturization and realistic representation that is otherwise only found in model railways or the peculiarly idealised exploit of constructing miniature villages. I think it's one of the things I respect most about RTS games generally: their unusual perspective, and the idea of designing a world that is intended to be seen from above. There's something essentially gamey about being an eye in the sky over some intricately constructed terrain, and having partial but far-reaching influence over events, rather than simply being in there, in first-person, or flying over it all in a polygonal aeroplane.
As for Sudden Strike 3 itself, well, it's the kind of strategy that we love to hate: that slightly-too-hard personality-free RTS based on the endless mud-plazas of World War II. Nevertheless it's so detailed, so rich and full of activity that I can't help but get attracted. It ought to be good, even though the Sudden Strike games are actually turgid, troubling experiences that inexorably grind away vital fragments of your soul. And although it's not one of those games I'd seek out, but when a commissioning editor commands I go in there and find out what's going on, I feel a vague sense of relief. I was waiting for a mission, and for my sins, I usually get one. The Horror, etc.
Here are those images in motion:
And the 269mb Sudden Strike 3 demo can be downloaded from here, should you wish to familiarise yourself with the heavy drag 'n'click that is Sudden Strike.