Silent Hunter III
World Exclusive Hands-on Preview
by Neal Stevens, original art by Torplexed
Oct 29, 2004
When you are counter-attacked you can assign a crew to repair the damage, provided it is accessible while submerged. It appeared to me that the crew repairs the damage by section, not by individual pieces of equipment. Your chief gives you an estimate in minutes and the hull integrity is estimated in percent. I found it interesting that while you may have a precise figure for the hull integrity, you could only guess at the effect on your diving depth. If the chief estimates the hull integrity at 73%, how deep can you safely dive? Thankfully, the dev team does not supply that estimate—you are on your own. I learned the hard way that having hull damage decreases your crush depth. There have been some in the forums who advocate replacing the percentage with a descriptive range, such as "No Damage", "Light Damage", "Moderate Damage", "Heavy Damage", and "Extreme Damage". Either way, SH3 provides a good damage control station.
One of the missions we played was titled "Stormy Convoy" complete with thunderclouds, driving rain, lightning, and very limited visibility. SH3 has made significant steps on delivering good weather effects. Your lookouts smartly gear up with wet-weather sealskins, another detail the dev team captured. The sea waves were not as towering as we expected but the settings for this mission may not have been tuned for Das Boot-style waves. I loved the way the haze obscured ships you could hear on sonar but not see until they were right on top of you.
Original artwork by TORPLEXED
I modded one mission to take place at midnight. It was a dark and stormy night (always wanted to write that) and there I was, at periscope depth, watching a herd of freighters steam past, setting up the TDC to attack a particularly large one. The sky was inky black and the ocean was just a shade lighter (thankfully, darker than SH2's nocturnal environment). The lumbering merchies were vague silhouettes in front of me. It was too dark for the destroyer lurking nearby to possibly see my scope, so as you can imagine, I felt relatively secure. Even haughty, you might say. Just then an unexpected graphics glitch caused the dark ocean to turn a much lighter shade. I made a note of the bug and continued my work on the TDC. Suddenly a crewman warned, "Warship approaching fast!". Wha--? How…. I switched to external view. That was no graphics glitch—the convoy had launched a starshell!(screenshot). I was detected! The destroyer was racing down on me, flashing his searchlights in recognition signal. I put away the firing solution and crash dived. A classic U-boat battle, the hunter became the hunted.
This is a preview of an early build and some of the features were incomplete and others, like the fabled dynamic campaign, were not included in this build. Many—most noticeably the important stuff like the battery, O2, BOLDs, snorkel, and fuel gauge—have placeholders indicating their eventual inclusion in the sim. There are also quite a few interesting orders you can give your crew but I’ll save that for the next preview. If Ubisoft follows through and delivers a truly dynamic campaign, Silent Hunter III will be a franchise in itself.
How did the Sub Club members react to Silent Hunter III ? They weren’t disappointed, to say the least—Silent Hunter III blew everyone out of the water. One proclaimed seeing Silent Hunter III first hand—even getting to play it for a spell—made it worth the 1200-mile trip. No one could resist cheering when a torpedo struck home. It was great fun watching the enthusiast back-seat commanders bombard the player at the keyboard with plenty of advice. After spending an additional 30 hours playing the supplied missions (sorry, guys, you didn’t think I was going to stop playing it when you left, did you?) I can say that Silent Hunter III is much improved over its predecessors. Its gameplay is reminiscent of Aces of the Deep but with much better graphics and many more features. Although SH2 was a decent simulation, the gameplay and AI spoiled the game. After all, any sim or game is just a bunch of lines of computer code with the goal to give the player a canvas on which he uses imagination to paint naval battles. Florin Boitor, Tiberius Lazar, and the Ubisoft dev team understand this and as a result, Silent Hunter III is looking good.
Developed and produced by
Release date: Q1 2005
Ubisoft's Official Silent Hunter III Website
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