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.
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
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.
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).