COMPANY: Soft Key / Microprose
Requirements: 486

Silent Service II        Once the shine wears off your favorite subsim (if it's good that could be months) and you're ready for a change of pace to break the monotony, you can invest in another top-drawer program, or you can skim the culls in search of a gem. Many dated programs are passed off as "CD-ROM Classics". A muzzle loader is a classic. So is a 286 PC. Silent Service II wears the description classic more like a '65 Mustang.

       As the commander of an American submarine in W.W.II, you hunt the Pacific for Japanese merchants or warships. The sim offers single and random missions and a career mission. You can choose from a wide variety of subs, and historical or flawless torpedoes. In the career mission, you get historical updates about actions being fought in the Pacific theater. I liked that. Before each encounter, you're presented a page that states the Exec's estimates of how far away the enemy can see you and detect you with sonar. That guy's got good eyes, because you can put money on his estimates.

       The graphics in Silent Service II are pre-Pentium, but the ship renderings aren't too bad, to be honest. An aircraft carrier looks, by God, like an aircraft carrier. Same with the tankers and cruisers. The explosions are really hokey compared with Silent Hunter, and the ships sink evenly in a matter of seconds. You aren't going to be blown away by the visuals. And there aren't any sound files or music (well, there might be, but I couldn't get it to work on my computer). The PC speaker buzzes to simulate engine sounds (which thankfully can be switched off!) The enemy AI is moderate, depending on what skill level you are playing at. Going deep and running away from the escorts is not very difficult, but they get you occasionally. The mapview allows you to track the enemy even underwater. But you must have periscope contact to lock on your TDC and ensure a decent chance of hitting anything.

       But for what it is--an old program sold at a bargain-rack price--it's not too shabby. The fun factor is there, which is really what establishes a successful sim from a yawner. I warmly recommend this subsim for the sim fan who is interested in playing an early program for the change and has $10 bucks to spare.

Rating:  54
Realism Historical Accuracy Graphics Sound/
Game play Repeat Play Program stability Multi- play
7/20 7/10 4/10 2/10 10/20 5/10 14/15 0/5
BONUS:  +5: Low hardware requirements;   -4 Age

Go to the PATCHES & MISSIONS section to DOWNLOAD the latest patches for this sim.