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Silent Hunter
 

Until Silent Hunter arrived on patrol submariners had to content themselves with SILENT SERVICE II and RED STORM RISING. Then Dynamix released their excellent ACES OF THE DEEP, where players took to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic as German U-boat captains and sent allied tonnage twisting down to the ocean floor. But if AOD made you want to see Axis ships ripped into flames by American torps, it's time you took a peek through the scope in SILENT HUNTER!

SILENT HUNTER was first described as "ACES OF THE DEEP, only in the Pacific with the US Sub Service, and in high resolution." While that is more or less true, SILENT HUNTER is also a class in itself.

periscope

The accurate displays in SILENT HUNTER were reconstructed from dozens of photos taken inside a real US WWII sub.

In SILENT HUNTER the player commands an American diesel submarine in WWII. Starting with the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, hunting season for Japanese warships and merchants opens in the South Pacific. The general idea of the simulation is to sink as much tonnage as possible without ending up on the "Still on Patrol" list at the end of the war.

The approach SSI has taken with SILENT HUNTER parallels that taken by Dynamix in ACES OF THE DEEP. Both games are based on historical submarine campaigns of WWII. Both use very similar interfaces, and both strive for that mysterious balance between accuracy and entertainment. The historical faithfulness of AOD is renowned, and SILENT HUNTER aimed for the same accuracy by employing the services of William "Bud" Gruner, who is the technical advisor for the game.

Mr. Gruner served as Executive Officer of the USS Pike, USS Sunfish, and USS Apogon. In 1944, he took command of the USS Skate for three war patrols which resulted in the sinking of a Japanese cruiser, destroyer, and several merchant ships. As skipper of the USS Skate, he received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star. Mr. Gruner's wartime experiences have provided a wealth of historical data on which to base historical missions and careers. Mr. Gruner has also delivered multimedia presentations of his real-life anecdotes, as well as narration of technical and tactical matters.

Fog and Rough Water

SILENT HUNTER uses high-resolution graphics, which really brings SSI's virtual Pacific to life. One can almost smell the salt, and when on the bridge I am tempted to cast a watchful eye for disrespectful seagulls. Rough water conditions mean that your bridge view rises and falls dramatically, and the speed of your boat is severely limited. Both fog and darkness can cramp your style. Then again, they can also allow you to get close in to ships in a well protected convoy! Fully developed coastlines allow the player to travel into enemy harbors to observe and engage the enemy. The harbors are impressive, especially at night, as are the Japanese warships.

As is true with SILENT HUNTER's competition, the control room and a mouse provide the means of controlling the boat and most of the boat's functions. Clicking on the periscope brings the periscope up, clicking on the bridge ladder gives access to the bridge, and clicking on the Fire Control System brings up the controls for firing torpedoes.

Click to continue . . .

 

Submarine simulations usually do all the work of plotting the target, while the player makes target observations and firms up the targeting solution. This is pretty realistic, since it took a tracking party of eight on a real boat to accomplish the same thing. But if you want to try your hand, this sim allows you to do so. The Fire Control System is a piece right out of history, and will allow you to do allthe work you want. In fact, in some situations you will have FAR better results if you let the AUTO setting guide you then switch to manual, modifying angles just enough to send a nice spread after your target!!

The first time you fire a spread in daylight, you will be surprised to observe a trail as the weapon closed on the target. This accurately mimics the old steam torpedoes, which left a bubble trail as they traveled through the water. It also provides nice visual feedback as to my weapon's accuracy. Similarly, looking out the bow of your ship as it plows through the waves will give you a nice view of the wake. Attention to detail! Now if there were just some waves splashing at the bow... ;-D

Making the Most of Opportunity

The player has the option of single missions, or taking on a career. The career progresses according to the abilities of the player, providing more and more challenging scenarios as the war progresses.

Submarine development during the war years is implemented, allowing the player the opportunity to captain different classes of boat, including the Balao class, the Tambour, and the Salmon class. Command of advanced types will be awarded on merit.

The chart view allows a quick overview of the area in which the boat is operating. The only downside to this approach seems to be that the chart is doubling as both a navigational reference and as a tactical reference. A separate entity for both would be better. A tactical display is essential when confronting a formation of ships, especially while setting up the approach and carrying out the attack. Being able to refer from the periscope to the tactical display on the fly is critical.

Sub

Transitting from your base to your patrol ground is immediate, but once you get there you can still find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. This is where the chart view and time compression really save the day. Any radio reports from aircraft, allied ships, or land based observers will be automatically displayed on the nav chart, and you can safely scout around at high speed without worry. Why, you ask? Because as soon as you pick up anything within 40,000 yards on your radar, you will be kicked out to normal time. otherwise you must use the ENTER key. Rising for Air

SILENT HUNTER can be a lot of fun. Let me sketch my most recent deployment for you....

It was a dark and calm night ...I was cruising just off the Japanese mainland in my GATO class sub when my radar officer reported a strong contact at bearing 280 degrees 35,000 yards. After tracking the target for a few minutes we estimated speed around 15 knots and calculated the heading to be 200 degrees. We plotted a course that would bring us in front of the target and engaged at full speed.

TO read the rest go to SH Mission Report. This page also includes information on the patched version. Silent Hunter Commander's Edition integrates the patrol disks, mission builder, and all updates (use the button below to order).

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Last Updated January, 1998

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