The Silent Hunter series is a true reference in submarine simulation and today welcomes its third representative. On the menu, an improvement of the graphic engine but also modified gameplay and even greater realism for what proves to be the best game of the genre to date. The game won an award back in 2005 for having “The Bst Simulation”.
Before you start to talk about the game, let me give a little warning to anyone who would still believe that one can play Silent Hunter 3 without any notion of what it is to fly a submarine. This title proves to be a real simulation, that is to say, that the Beotians risk suffering! To say that the game is reserved for an insider audience is a euphemism because the mastery of all the controls of a submarine is so complicated. Fortunately, some tutorials are present, and while they detail perfectly the basics of piloting, they are still insufficient to make a beginner a qualified submariner, especially since the game has not been translated into French. It is, therefore, enough to choose between English and German. Shame! It is not, however, what will deter the fans who will find in this title a challenge to their measure.
Already, as far as the game modes are concerned, we are not disappointed. Apart from the tutorials, we have access to a museum that precisely describes the characteristics of the units in presence which is very useful to know what kind of enemies we are going to have to deal with. The “solo missions” mode is composed of several historical scenarios allowing to relive some great battles. Moreover, it is also possible to create your missions thanks to the supplied editor, so that there is a good chance that many new missions will appear on the net to download. A very good point for the lifetime of the app. Another good point, a multiplayer mode is included. It allows 8 people to compete in LAN in two types of parts. You can either choose one of the scripted missions included in the game, or you can set a number of data such as the start date, the starting position of the submarines and let the engine create a new mission from any part.
But the big piece of the game is the career mode. The game uses a dynamic, random, reality-based Campaign engine. In short, each career is unique. At the beginning of the game, you can choose the start date of your career (from 1939 to 1943) knowing that in any case, the game will end in 1945. The game is divided into two distinct phases: Patrol time and base time. It is during the first that you manage your submarine, carry out the missions requested and you make a reputation based on your performance. Reputation is a crucial part of the game because if it is good, you will be able to have access to better equipment, better crew members, and even better submarines.
On the other hand, if your reputation is too low and your service record is terrible, it is possible that you will be relieved of your duties! Apart from the time spent in operation, you will also spend some time at the base. This is where you will be able to repair your submarine, improve it, change it, and recruit new personnel.
And yes, the staff is taken into account! As in reality, a submarine is nothing without the submariners who animate it. In the game, each crew member has a name, specific skills, a level of fatigue, and morale. The higher the morale, the lower the fatigue, and the higher the qualifications, the greater the effectiveness. Before going on a mission, it is necessary to determine the best assignment for each crewmember. If a compartment does not have sufficient personnel, it will idle or not at all, which can be very detrimental in a combat situation. Even stronger, you will need to interact with your officers to command your ship. To give them an order, it’s very simple: click on their portrait at the bottom of the screen and ask the chief engineer to switch to silent navigation or the torpedo officer to calculate a shooting solution for a selected target. It is very well thought out!
We have the feeling that we are the commander who organizes everything, who gives instructions, who plan a course, a goal, in short, the immersion is total. What reinforces this aspect is that the various U-Boats that you can order (from type II to type XXI) are modeled in 3D. You can change compartments with a single click. The graphics engine is much more efficient than in Silent Hunter 2. When you’re on the surface, and the sea is disassembled, the submarine is caught in the waves, you feel the movements of the building, you almost feel like throwing up! Although improved, the 3D engine is still far from matching the quality of textures and light effects found in other game genres. It is also regrettable that the resolution is limited to 1024×768. However, thanks to its many qualities, Silent Hunter 3 has become the new reference in submarine simulation.