Silent Hunter PC Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 9.8
Sound 9.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: UbiSoft
Review Date:
August 2005
Edwin Millheim


Silent Hunter III

Once again slipping silently under the waves and moving in for the kill, Silent Hunter III does it like no other. There are ups and downs to this new sleek World War II submarine simulation (No pun intended). Before getting into how absolutely incredible the graphics are, let me run down what's under the hood in terms of game play and game play modes. First off all the menus in game are pulled down or pop up windows when hovering the mouse pointer over certain areas. This makes everything very accessible in those intense times when trying to blast away at shipping or avoiding getting destroyed by the enemy navy.

There are several game modes to be played in this game and even playing the Naval Academy mode (tutorials) actually holds some incentives for the player. Each of the tutorials is playable as either a training or exam session. Playing them as an exam session will grant a pass or fail and also include a quality evaluation. If you graduate each of these tutorials it gives you bonus renown for your character when you start the career mode.  The Naval academy breaks things down into five tutorials and each of these has a sub heading of training tutorials. These are Navigation Course which includes Direction, speed and dive controls. Naval Artillery Course includes Deck gun aiming and deck gun ammo management. Flak Artillery Course includes flak aiming.  The Torpedoes Course includes periscope use, Torpedo tubes management, and torpedo attacks. The Convoy Attack Course includes positioning in submersion, target priority and detection avoidance. If your new to submarine simulation games of any kind it is always a good idea to go through some of the tutorials to get a feel for the controls and the procedures to sink shipping and to keep your sub from being destroyed.

Moving on down there are also single missions in this mode you get to play individual missions and even some historical scenarios. From the single missions screen you get to also launch missions created with the in games mission editor and any missions downloaded from the internet.

Speaking of the Mission Editor, you can also use the single mission generator and then tweak things either as complex or as simple as you like using the mission editor. You can use the mission editor to edit the campaign data from the dynamic campaign. Be careful if you fiddle with the dynamic campaign data too much you may end up making the game unusable and have to install from scratch. Baking up some of the data before editing it is always a good idea.

Career Mode is where the real action of the game play comes in. The character you create grows in skill and renown during the career mode. Renown is a measure of the characters performance, after the end of each patrol the character has a chance to be rewarded with renown for destroying enemy shipping and also achieving goals set forth at the start of the patrol. With renown the character can gain access to better U-boat types and better equipment and new crew members. Making upgrades to your U-boat or moving on to a newer type of U-boat is achieved by using the career on base option menu and U-Boat options. In the U-boat options menu your able to check out new types of U-boats, upgrades to conning towers get better flak guns, load up on torpedoes and upgrade many of the U-boat systems. To upgrade to a newer U-boat type or upgrading the conning tower you're going to need a lot of renown. Also worth a note here, reloading your U-boat with standard torpedoes costs nothing but if you want the more advanced torpedoes expect to spend renown to get them. Other nice little touches and personalization's is the ability to personalize the U-boat emblem. This honor is not just handed to have to earn the right to wear an emblem and it all depends on how well you do during patrols.

For me the save game features on a game often are a hot issue. If you would have to make it all the way back to base in order to save a game, that would assure I would never want to play the game. Oh Happy day, in Silent Hunter III you are able to save during your patrol. There are also two auto saves, one before you head out on patrol and one on returning to base.

Silent Hunter III also supports multiplayer gaming. There is LAN support for up to eight players and online games for up to four people on For multi player there are two modes available, the first is scripted missions and the other is generated missions. The scripted missions include a series of historic convoy battles. At any time you are able to add to these by using the mission editor. Generated missions are all based on the campaign data. Using this mode the host makes a choice of specific options like mission start date, type of enemy and their experience level, and U-boat starting points.

Now on to what it all looks like. The graphics for the game are the most incredible visuals to date for a submarine simulation.  The insides of the U-boat compartments are very accurate and the rise and fall and rocking of the boat on the waves could very well give you a sense of sea sickness. Crew members are depicted and you may click on them to give orders or hover the mouse near certain edges of the screen to bring up command menus. Moving on to the outside of the boat is rather mesmerizing as everything looks so spectacular. The waves rise and fall and reflect things like explosions, the sun even sparkles on the water in a realistic way. All ships and planes look amazing, with rust on their hull and smoke from smoke stacks and when enemy shipping is hit from a torpedo attack the resulting explosion is very satisfying. With all these amazing graphics churning form the computers graphics card there is a bit of a high price for what is needed to run the game in its highest end of visuals. A Pentium III 1.4 GHz or AMD Athlon 1.4 GHz is needed, as well as 512 Megs of RAM. But the film like graphics are well worth the horse power in any system.

The sounds also compliment the sights. The hiss of waves breaking on the hull of the U-boat on a surface run all the way to the call of the seagulls immerse you into a world that you can almost believe your there. The blasts of deck guns firing or the flak guns firing are all in the range of blow you put of your seat with the sound cranked up, now this is my kind of game. Some times the sounds and music for a game can add to the experience or hinder it greatly. Silent Hunter III merges it all together for one incredible ride. There is nothing more nerve fraying than diving and then hearing the sonar search for your boat and then the blasts of the depth charges as they are getting ever closer to assure your destruction.

If I had any gripes about the game it would have to be the long times between leaving port and actually finding any shipping to blast. Even in time compression mode it seems to take a long time before your finding anything of note. Now I know what some of the hard core simulation gamers will say.but that's how it was really. You may go days before finding any contacts. Too true. I guess that's way they have the other game modes so you can get to blasting away at shipping.

In the end when all is said and done I am still playing Silent Hunter III and will continue to do so. It is a spectacular mix of sights and sounds with the nerve racking feelings of danger and the high feelings of exhilaration when a planned attack all falls into place.

Have fun, play games
Edwin Millheim


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