Originally Posted by Julhelm
No, back in the 90's companies like Dynamix, Origin and Microprose were constantly pushing the limits of what graphics could be done with then high-end hardware. AOD might look dated today, but when it came out it was as close to photorealism as possible. The manual for Strike Commander has an editorial by Chris Roberts where he spells out in great detail exactly how much they were pushing the hardware of the day.
IMO the explanation is that the notion of a sim was different back then. If you read what Damon Slye has stated about Red Baron, the emphasis was always on reliving history and 'being there' while having fun. That same mentality gave us classics like AoD, GNBNA and the original Silent Hunter.
Then Su-27 and the hardcore Jane's sims started coming out and took sims into a much more tech and procedures-focused direction.
It is quite telling that neither AoD nor SH bother to model the hydrophone station aboard the sub. AoD doesn't even bother modelling the TDC beyond a spread angle slider, and the FAT programming is a very simple yet useable dialog menu, in stark contrast to what's in SH3 and SH4. It's not because they couldn't do it, but because they chose not to.
I also noticed that Jane's sims and other stuff from the late 1990's - circa 2005 was superior in graphics but somehow lacking in "heart". "Rivet counting" graphics and a fixation with procedure fidelity are nice, but ambience is very important. This is why I didn't play the IL-2 series until Lowengrin and other flight sim modders gave the sim a "soul" with better medals, better interface, dynamic campaign, region-accurate voice acting, detailed squadrons, and so on.
For the sake of balance, let me say that SH3 compares favorably to AOD although AOD edges it out. AOD does have certain flaws, like no friendly aircraft/ships, far too few armed merchants, and enemy ships sometimes spawning too close to Germany.
If I were to give both sims an overall grade for their quality, unmodded and judging based on the graphics etc of the day, I'd give SH3 an B- and AOD an A-.
I always hate to sound too hard on SH3's creators.....they provided an adequate platform to revitalize the submarine genre, and made it highly moddable (compare SH3's moddability with, for example, SES's Jutland). Plus, they were kind enough to listen when we demanded a non-scripted campaign.