By Neil Schneider
Ever since I was a kid (a younger kid!), I was always fascinated by submarines. The idea of living underwater in a moving vehicle, armed to the teeth with torpedoes that can take out the biggest ships without a moment's notice - it's intriguing!
Would you believe the first submarine simulator I ever played was on a Commodore Vic-20? The next level up for me was "Sub Battle Simulator" by Epyx in the late 80's, to be followed by "688 Attack Sub" by Electronic Arts. I don't know why, but I haven't played any submarine simulators since then.
Among other things, Ubisoft has earned a great name for itself with the Silent Hunter series, and today we are going to review their latest title in stereoscopic 3D! General Game Review
Silent Hunter 5 plays through as a historical campaign that starts when Germany invades Poland in 1939 and moves on from there. You have just been promoted to Captain of a German U-Boat, and are assigned several missions around the world.
As you progress, missions can include sinking ships, reconnaissance or photography, and more. While the missions may sound a bit simplistic, Silent Hunter 5 is everything but!
Let's begin by describing the submarine itself. You have a torpedo room, a command room, an engine room, and crew cabins. On deck, depending on how your sub is configured, you have one or more flak and deck guns for surface combat.
Your crew is varied as well. You have an engineer that keep things running well, a watchmen to manage the deck, a radio room officer to manage the sonar and listen for incoming radio transmissions, and several specialized characters that do everything from cooking the meals to ensuring the crew morale remains high.
What works for Silent Hunter 5 is its superior visual graphics and immersive experience. As Captain you have full reign of the ship. You can walk first person from bow to stern, climb a ladder onto the deck, and even fire all the guns and torpedoes personally. This is an innovation because most submarine simulators don't offer this first-person perspective the same way.
An added bonus is while you are on your missions, you can converse with the crew to pump up their morale and take advantage of special features. For example, your torpedo officer can preheat the torpedoes to make them do more damage and run faster, your engineer can overcharge the batteries so you can stay underwater longer - you can even ask the cook to make a special morale boosting meal for the crew!
To take advantage of these features, you need to spend crew morale points which you earn from accomplishing missions and doing productive things. When you return to port, you also get promotion points that you can use to enhance your crew. Clearly, your submarine is capable of being much more than the sum of its parts when in the hands of the right Captain!
While the game is run in DirectX 9, it is visually interesting throughout. You can even activate an external camera and get a breathtaking view of the ocean and ships around you. Everything is finely detailed.
It is especially cool when your submarine takes damage because water seeps onto the floor and countless valves spray all over the place. You even hear the sound of shorting circuits. It's really something!
The audio is also very immersive, especially in surround sound, because you can hear the creaking of the submarine's hull all around you, and your heart will skip a beat when the surface warships are pinging the ocean deep to find you.
Unfortunately, it's with good reason that it took this long to get this review written for our members: Silent Hunter 5 is the most frustratingly difficult game I have ever played. The manual isn't a manual, it's a pamphlet! My pamphlet wasn't even readable because I got the online version.
It took way too much research to figure out how to launch a torpedo, and weeks to get through my first missions. It shouldn't really take this long, but running a submarine is way more complex than the manual prepares you for. What is really frustrating is it's not the complex operations that set things back. I've sunk several ships with torpedoes and deck guns - no problem! The real issue is finding the ships that need to be sunk. Read full article...