Silent Hunter II: Add-ons

by Jim "Twitch" Tittle

Article Type: Review
Article Date: March 08, 2002

Product Info

Game Title: Silent Hunter II
Category: Naval Combat
Developer: Ultimation
Publisher: SSI / Ubi Soft
Release Date: Released
Files / Links: Click Here


Silent Hunter II Redux

While I generally liked Ubi Softís Silent Hunter 2 (SH2) (see review) there were a few things that bugged me. So when this site's managing editor told me about the add-ons for it, I decided to give them a try. In reality I had removed the sim from my computer after Iíd reviewed it and moved on to other things. So with a fresh re-install done I went to the Naval Warfare Simulations (NWS) site and checked things out.

Go here for DC & SH 2 fixes

There are four compressed files to download: the data file, the art file and two sound files. Each of the downloads installs with a click so there was no need to drag any files around. A special prompt during the install even allows you to backup your original files.

The data files total 817 and go into the /System and /Units folders replacing the originals. The replacement graphics files number 64 in total and are in .TGA format. These images are new pyrotechnic effects controlling explosions, smoke and fire. I didnít care that much for the original menu screens and those have been redone as well. The medals look especially good in the black background screen theme.

It just dawned on me that anyone could change those screens to any image they desire as was done for sims like European Air War since the .TGA format is a snap to modify using a variety of basic image editing utilities. Nice photos would work if sized right and converted to .TGA.

The larger sound addition has 65 files and the smaller one modifies some of them even further with 20 files replaced for the /Sfx folder. These are all .WAV files and are easy to work with in the simplest sound modification programs.

I did not count the original number of files but feel pretty certain that they are equal in number to the new ones. At the NWS site are some third party files that may be worthy of inspection. I found the one this sim needs there too. The “RainEnable” add-on gives you five .TGA files that give the rain an aqua blue color, which looks just right, and a weather.ini file that gives the weather the necessary instructions to work properly—so simple yet the designers didnít do it right and no beta tester found it?

The cool part is that these same simple files have an equally positive affect on Destroyer Command (DC). See more in the DC review.



Raindrops!

I did not try to run the original files and then compare the sim with the new ones. I decided that I would go straight into it and get my impressions that way. The first thing I wanted to do was run a boat in the rain. I never got it to work on the standard version as I mentioned in the review and was disappointed. So I dialed in a single mission with a Type IX in stormy seas against a convoy.

Rain seen from just below surface

This was more like it! Raindrops were pelting the screen visible from just below the waterís surface. Once on deck it was a beautiful scene with rain and quite animated movement of the water. From the F12 view of the boat from a distance the roll of the waves was more evident. And, of course, when viewed through optical magnification the rain was proportionately correct. Close up drops were quite large as they should be.

Rain drops!



Type XXI in rolling seas & rain

Graphics and Sound Improved

The bow was smashing through the waves and it was all relative to speed too, and perhaps a bit better than before. If you looked through the optics the bow would appear in its view as the boat pitched. Water disturbance was visible in front of the bow too. Firing the deck gun was more difficult and fun. If you fire in the bottom of a swell the shell hits the water in front of the boat and produces spray and the correlating close sound effect.

I got a surprise here too. The visible flame damage on a vessel 1,200 meters away was better and the sound of the deck gunís roar and expended shells ejecting was noticeable now. Before when you began shelling a ship each shell produces 3 percent damage as you methodically pumped them in. But I got a nice surprise here too when a ship with 89 percent damage took a shell that sent it to 100 percent. Another reached that mark from an explosion after only the 76 percent damage level.

When I decided to head for a test mission in the Caribbean to see if the water color possibly improved I was disappointed that it had not. I suspect that is a very difficult thing to change unless it is done globally on the sim by third parties. Then it would be all aqua all the time. What I could live with is the better land features now. I saw topography in the Bermudas in place of dull greenish blobs that ďsort ofĒ looked like land. On a campaign mission in Scandinavia the elevation rose nicely forming a mountain. The time was twilight and it was shrouded in the dusky hues of the end of the day. It looked real.

Speaking of dusky, that is how ships looked in long distance optics views. Okay, we know for the most part a shipís profile was all that could be seen by the U-boat skipper. Peering through these devices one saw sometimes-indistinct outlines with little or no depth. That is what we saw, a gray outline. Iím seeing a profile with a bit more depth and contrast now. The periscope itself is a sharper image.

Gibraltar looked better than before

Overall, every sound has a healthier tone and is an improvement. I canít tell you by decibel and tone comparison values but they are. You can hear the empty shell casings being ejected from the deck gun and the mechanical cycling. The really cool part is that the sounds can be traded back and forth with many of the ones in DC. There are a couple of DC sounds that are a bit better than even the revamped SH2 ones. This is not to say all are one-for-one trades with the same names but listening to both simís sounds side-by-side will allow you to find similar, better ones. The new U-boat deck gun sounds better than the destroyerís 5-inchers and easily swaps.

The collision creak of bending steel is better in SH2 and can swap. Thereís a better gun sound in SH2 that makes the 40 mm Bofers in DC sound better. Incoming rounds sounds from SH2 are better than those of DC and can replace them. Any freeware sound program will allow the user to modify .WAV files if these still arenít of personal preference. There are endless options.

The wake, cloud, land and water texture .TGAs in SH2 can be swapped into DC too. The pyrotechnics files also interchange.

More on File Swapping

As far as the many data files go, they all may not interface in a straight exchange. I tried a few and got a bit of difference in on-deck visuals while running DC so try those at your own risk. Assuredly, most of the pertinent data files have been altered. It is impossible to say exactly what has been improved to any perceptible degree in side-by-side comparison, but all the mechanics of the sim are in those files and we must assume they have been improved as stated. If I feel a torpedo runs more true to actual form or a turn on the boat is imperceptibly improved it is all the better. I sensed a tighter overall feel from the sim and a bit more difficult in some things, which is good. This is not a night and day difference but it is noticeable. Go to the NWS site and check out the improvements listed and decide for yourself.

See NavalWarfare.net for improvement list

As this article is finished there are additional sound files now available for SH2 and the first modifications for DC are also available! There are many other naval games and sims discussed with patches and information presented.

Nothing has degraded so you have nothing to lose by installing the files. If you do not like the enhancements all the original files are saved for recovery. I believe that over the course of fully indulging in all the missions and set ups you may be pleased.




Review System:
  • Mobo: ASUS A7V133 200/266MhZ FSB
  • RAM: 256MB PC-133 RAM
  • CPU: Athlon T-Bird 1.3GhZ CPU
  • Audio: SoundBlaster PCI 128 w/Yamaha YST-M7 speakers
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra
  • OS: Windows ME with Direct X 8.1
  • Display: 17Ē Envision monitor .27mm dp
  • CDROM: Samsung 52X


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