One of the most important, less celebrated factors of World War II was the line of ships that traveled across the Atlantic, allowing the United States to keep troops and supplies flowing to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. These supply ships were in constant danger of being gunned out of the water by the deadly, silent, German U-Boat submarines. The presence of the German submarines demanded strategic planning and a solid defense in the Atlantic. Many historians believe that they nearly changed the course of the war with their vicious, sudden attacks.
Players take command of one of these deadly submarines in this sequel to the well-received 1995 original Silent Hunter. The game features accurate, working models of every U-Boat station, allowing players to take up different positions around the submarine. Players can engage in single-battle scenarios or play through an entire campaign, perhaps even changing the course of virtual history through their efforts. In addition to multiplayer support between Silent Hunter II gamers, the title will also "inter-operate" with Ultimation Inc.'s Destroyer Command naval battle sim, significantly broadening the gameplay options and context of conflict.
It has been a while since we saw a serious simulation meant strictly for fans of a particular topic. Submarines were always an interesting subject for a video-game, and had a special part in the computer simulation genre ever since the Aces of the Deep. The first Silent Hunter got well accepted by the players, and we must not forget that several years ago, that wonderful bliss called 3D acceleration did not even exist. Electronic Arts published Sub Command this year. This game was well devised, but true fans of submarine simulations will definitely prefer the Silent Hunter, especially as it is one of the few simulations that will let you assume control of several types of German U-Boats from the Second World War.
The first thing you will notice is the great graphic design, including the excellently modeled ships you can see on the horizon. Still, before you start playing the game I would recommend you to spend some time in the Museum section, as it contains all the vessels that appear in the game and an in-depth interview with one of the German aces, Erich Topp.
Graphics are one of the best aspects of the Silent Hunter II. All form the smoke on the horizon and the excellent explosions, to the detailed design of the deck guns... all this can be seen in the game. The waves will slowly... wave, as they glisten on the moonlight and crush against the sides of your sub as you dive in...
The most important thing in each simulation is the verisimilitude of the atmosphere. The atmosphere in Silent Hunter II is setting new standards for all future submarine simulations. Of course, many things will depend on the difficulty level you decide to play. You will be able to choose playing on the easy skill level (with a practically indestructible submarine) or the hard level, meant for true heroes of the deep blue sea.
Trying to play on the hard level with no previous experience will surely result in failure, and not only will you fail in your mission, but it is highly likely that your sub will be full of holes from enemy charges. Silent Hunter II brings a number of factors and controls you have to bare in mind: the direction of the sub, trim angle, wave magnitude and various things that influence torpedoes. You will also have to take care that your engines do not overheat. Enemy ships can only be spotted using the sonar. Control options include: Radio Room (radio is used to communicate with HQ about the mission assignments), Sound Room (the sonar lets you spot approaching enemy ships, and you can also hear the hissing of enemy torpedoes moments before they hit your sub), Torpedo Status (contains detailed settings for tube elevation, torpedo speed and depth) and Torpedo Fire Control lets you set tube reload speed and gives you launch control. Periscope is your only eye that will let you see the surface of the sea... if you are not too deep, that is. Not every sub has a Deck Gun, but those who do can use it for destroying smaller ships while on surface. Anti-Aircraft and Machine Gun are less than efficient, but they can be used to take down an odd enemy bomber. Damage Control is another important option, as it shows where your sub got damaged, and lets you decide which parts are a priority for repair.
Sub control is very complicated, but the beginners can always choose to use the map. Many submarine fans will consider this cheating, but without this option (which acts as a GPS), you will simply have to see what difficulties the sailors faced in navigating their sub during the WWII. This map is accessible through the Plot option, and it will show your sub and the direction it is moving in, enemy, allied and neutral ships, harbors, and mission goals. The Helm & Gauges control let you determine the angle and direction, depth and speed. When you are on the surface, you will also be able to access the Bridge and UZO. You can open side panels with additional controls at any time. For instance, If you are on the command bridge, you can open a side panel for torpedo control. This system makes combat far easier.
Most of the campaign missions come down to: explore the area and destroy as much as you can. You will receive points according to the weight of the vessel you sank (the heavier it is, the more likely it is that it is dangerous). All missions are pre-scripted, so if you miss a target, you can go back and repeat the mission over and over again. If you set the game to play 100% realistic, you will have a hard time finding your way around the deep seas. The campaign covers practically the entire WWII and presents numerous events based on historical scenarios; from sinking the puny Polish fleet at the very beginning of the war to the attack on Norway and sinking ships near the US coast at the end of the war.
The game ships with an editor for making your own missions, and several fictional scenarios for you to try out: submarine against a destroyer, sub against sub, etc. You can also set the time of day and weather conditions, but single missions are more of a training ground than something that would provide good replay value.
The developers also announced the Destroyer Command, which should merge with the Silent Hunter and provide an ultimate simulation multiplayer experience. But until Destroyer Command appears, players can but stick to the overly difficult campaign and ridiculously simple scenarios.
Navigation and seeking are major elements of Silent Hunter II gameplay, so if you are an avid FPS or RTS fan, you might be severely annoyed by the several hour long goal seeking, in spite of the excellent time-compression system included in the game. Silent Hunter II could satisfy an average player who is in for some experimenting, but it was primarily meant for the Hard-core sim fans.
People who downloaded Silent Hunter 2 have also downloaded:
Silent Hunter: Commander's Edition, Silent Hunter III, Silent Service 2, Rowan's Battle of Britain, Silent Service, Advanced Destroyer Simulator (a.k.a. B.S.S. Jane Seymour), Fighting Steel, SSN-21 Seawolf
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