Submarine simulations and naval games at E3 2004
Los Angeles, California May 12-14, 2004

Check here for hourly updates starting May 12 at noon PST.



Discuss these games in the SUBSIM Review e3 2004 Forum

Arrival: May 12, 8:00 am

Silent Hunter 3









Silent Hunter 3








Silent Hunter 3








Silent Hunter 3

Silent Hunter III - First look. I took some photos of the game as it was being played on the monitor but they do not do the gfx justice, this game looks terrific! Lead Designer Tiberius Lazar and Project Manager Florin Boitor kindly led me through the many aspects of the game and answered all my questions.


You can command the crew to use the AA and deck guns, you can even specify which parts of the ship to target--the water line, wheel house, etc. Or, if you choose, you can man the guns yourself with several choices of ammo. A recurring theme throughout the sim is Crew Competency.


Here's the scoop on the part you all have been waiting on--the campaign model! What you are looking at is the familiar Kriegsmarine grid map. According to Tiberius, the campaign will use a  branching career style. After completing a mission the game will select of one of three new missions. Once you accept one, the next three choices that follow will be different than the other two choices you did not take. Missions begin in the U-boat pens or shop where you will designate repairs, upgrades, and manage your crew awards.  When you start a patrol, you are given orders and a patrol zone to travel to. There will be an Aces-style cinematic of your sub leaving port. Then you will study the grip map and a red line will mark your subs progress to the patrol zone, similar to using time compression in Aces/SH1 while watching the map. Now get this--there will be chance encounters of solo ships and convoys between port and your patrol zone, so in much the same way Silent Service II worked, you will have a dynamic campaign. The odds of running into an unreported ship or convoy vary, much the same as it does in real life. If you do come across a ship while in time compression mode, the game will revert to 1x time and allow you to engage the contact.

I asked about the use of radio contacts to give the player intel on possible contacts inside his patrol zone and Tiberius enthusiastically confirmed they plan to follow the same method.

Unlike SH2, where the career campaign always started out in the middle of the patrol zone and the ships were always the same, SH3 will allow you to sail to the patrol zone with the possibility of meeting unexpected ships. I inquired about letting the player interrupt the grid map travel session and be able to take the bridge at any time but Tiberius said at this point that is not planned.  If you did manage to stop the travel routine, there would be nothing but empty sea anyway.

Overall, the graphics are utterly breathtaking. No hype, just fact. The sea and ships look very, very good. The SH3 trailer we've all seen is not composed of a movie or cinematic--those are the in-game graphics. I can hardly begin to convey how WOW! the overall look of this game is, from the shudder of the torpedo as it passes the camera, to the opening of the outer tube doors, streams of bubbles rising off the limber holes in the superstructure, rapturous explosion effects complete with falling ship masts, to the amazing amount of detail in each ship and plane.

Now, to answer some specific queries:

  • The world is round in SH3, very much so. Ships appear mast first over the horizon
  • There is a full crew, they move, and they react to the player's presence
  • You can pan 360 degrees the control room, bridge, radio room, and sonar shack.
  • Convoy ships will react to an attack by taking evasive maneuvers
  • When you raise the scope, there is a squiggly film of water that looks as real as anything I could have imagined!
  • The TDC will be auto and manual, according to the player's desire. In Auto, you can assign the chores to your crew (and depending on how good your crew is, thus will be your results). In manual, you must do everything in manual, from target ID, using the stadimeter to determine range, a stop watch to determine speed, angle on the bow, everything.
  • The damage model is very comprehensive--you can assign certain officers and petty officers and crew members to each compartment. Again, the better the individual crew members, the more efficiently they can effect repairs. If you think ol' Karl is not working fast enough, assign the Chief to oversee his work and he will do better.
  • The map looks more like a hand drawn chart than in previous subsims. You have better chart tools to use also.
  • I know you will love this: sometimes when you get damage, the screen shakes, lights flicker, and I even saw a flange burst and water spray across the control room!

Tiberius and Florin know their U-boats and naval history very well. Their dev team has been working on SH3 since January 2003 and they consider it in alpha stage now. To me, it looks very polished and complete at this stage. This sim exceeds my expectations.




Akella/ 1c Company
Captain Blood
PT-Boats Knights of the Sea


































PT-Boats Knights of the Sea - New screenshots to whet your appetite!

5/12 First E3 Screens!



Akella has become famous for its marine games based on cutting edge 3D sea technology. They now offer a new level of realism and graphics in the upcoming simulator PT Boats: Knights of the Sea. Start your career in a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany and take part in bloody World War II battles. Akella Vice President DmitryArkhipov showed me a sample of the PT Boats in game physics and models. The game is still very early. The colors are very vivid, maybe a little too strong, but overall the game looks good. The movie trailer we saw is generated from game graphics. I asked about the campaign and they told me it will be centered on the Russian PT Boat action and plans for a Pacific version are being considered.

The player can assume first person control of the guns and helm and also view the game from the third person perspective (you can figure that out from the screenshots, eh?). Dmitry said the game has input from several WWII Russian PT Boat vets and will be realistic but they aim to keep the pace and fun factor high even if a few sim corners have to be cut. "Take command of a boat and control each member of the crew. Shoot down aircraft using machineguns and anti-aircraft guns, torpedo hostile destroyers and supply ships, "entertain" uninvited guests with cannon fire, plan group attacks – essentially, do whatever you like. Any operation can be entrusted to the AI or handled on your own."

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is powered by an improved version of the STORM 2 used in the award wining Pirates of the Caribbean. The STORM 2.5 engine enables the creation of unique special effects like ocean waves from explosions, tracing the tracks of various types of boats, illustrating the boats gliding, realistic collision damage, damage from assorted types of ammunition and so much more! Close cooperation with 1С/Maddox Games, the leading flight simulator developers and renowned for IL-2 Sturmovik, allowed Akella to create historically accurate and detailed aircraft models.


New level of realism for ship physics

Choose single missions or build a career as an officer in campaigns through the entire war

Control different crewmen on your boat - from the gunner to the commander

Realistic ship damage

Highly detail 3D landscapes

Control Allied, German or Russian boats - everything can be under you command!

Up to 16 players in multiplayer game





Captain Blood Game Overview

Captain Blood
Platform: PC, Xbox
Number of players: 1
Release Date: Q4 2004

Captain Blood is a new action game from world-leading developer of naval games Akella corp. It’s based on novels by Rafael Sabatini about Captain Blood. Player takes a role of brave and noble corsair and follows his intriguing and amazing adventures in 1685 at Spanish Main.  

The game has the mission-based structure and contains land and sea missions. Gameplay proceeds from one mission to another and includes ship sailing and sword fencing as its core elements.

Sea missions are naval battles in which player directly controls his ship and fights enemy ships and forts. In this mode player can stand on his ship deck and manually fire ship cannons to enemy. Or choose third-person view on his ship and concentrate on steering his ship. Cannons aim automatically and player only should order when to fire. During those battles player must consider wind strength and direction, weather conditions, ship parameters and cannon fire range to achieve a victory. 

Ships have very detailed destruction model that allows break masts, hole and fire sails, break ship hull, destroy gun ports and even blow a ship apart. Also the game successes all the most exciting and amazing features of Pirates of the Caribbean (Developed also by Akella and published by Bethesda Softworks in 2003) like crew on deck and accurate ship sailing model.

Land missions are arcade fighting with multiple enemies. Player controls his characters and fights the enemies, pirates and enemy soldiers. He can use different weapons like cutlasses, pistols, muskets, throwing knives and hand bombs. Also player can perform various strikes and combos against the enemies. For killing them, character gets special points that can be used for acquiring new fighting techniques. Moreover, he earns the gold that can be spent on new weapons and equipment.

In most of the missions player character is followed by his allies who fight the enemies as well as character does. The main idea of land missions is to give the player an impression of being in the heart of the fierce battle with many things going on around him. To improve player’s immersion in the game the environment is completely interactive. All the time player fights he sees cannonballs flying in and breaking ship’s interior or fort tower exploding and falling down almost on his character’s head. We are seeking to give the player an impression he could get playing the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King games. But we deepen and enlarge this impression almost to a movie with player playing the main role.

An entirely new game engine (a successor of unmatched STORM 2 engine that is still perfect for naval landscapes and was used for development of Pirates of the Caribbean) delivers spectacular 3D graphics with high poly-count and all new shader-based features implemented.

The story of Captain Blood’s adventures is presented in engine-based cut-scenes between game missions that will describe what happened after mission completion and how new mission is arranged with previous one.

Original sound track created in Hollywood heroic movie style is recorded by Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Game Key Features:

  1. Classic Pirate Adventure

Live a life of the most noble and brave pirate in realization of the best book of Rafael Sabatini.  Follow the pirate star in a search of gold, glory and love.

  1. Step on a sail-ship deck

Steer your ship “Arabella” through numerous battles with overwhelming enemies: capture enemy ships and destroy forts with cannon fire. Shatter masts, break hulls, rip sails and hit gunpowder casemates to win naval confrontations.

  1. For the first of time feel real swashbuckling action 

Rush into fiery hand-to-hand boarding with your swashbuckler companions and fight enemies using complex fighting system with many combos and feints. Feel yourself in a middle of a battle and use cutlasses, pistols, muskets, throwing knives and hand bombs to dispose opponents. Don’t forget about dirty pirate tricks!

  1. Enjoy cinematic visuals

Game graphics and camera work provide the player an impression of being a pirate movie hero. Beautiful sea landscapes and boarding crowd scenes looks more convincing than in real life.

  1. Enhance your power

Get experience points for battling pirates and soldiers and develop new fighting techniques and feints. Earn gold in your adventures and upgrade your “Arabella”!

  1. See and feel the interactive environment

Game world changes as the player goes through the story. Watch the living surroundings of a large-scale battle or board ships under enemy fire.


Swashbucklers: Legacy of Drake (SLoD) is a pirate adventuring third person action game set around the story of one young but desperate captain Abraham Grey (aka Captain Nightingale), who has taken out privateer’s patent from the government of newly formed United States of America and thus got involved into war of 1812 between US and Great Britain that had just broken out in the Caribbean.

The player is to take the role of Abraham ‘Nightingale’ and lead his ‘Warble’ cutter through bloody waters of the Caribbean in search of gold and glory. Though the main game focus is steering battle sailor and fighting against similar opponents, significant part of the game is dedicated to adventures of ‘Nightingale’ himself. The player will have to ‘hack and slash’ (and also shoot through: every true ‘outlaw’ should have a wide field hat and two smoking barrels, shouldn’t he? …even if he’s an ‘outlaw at sea’) Abraham’s way through boarding fights, towns and beach villages raids; escape from imprisonment and sneak into well fortified port to sabotage enemy fleet – all this within one big adventure – in search of Drake’s legendary treasures.

The game is build as a narrative, character based, black humor and irony spiced, cinematographic style storyline aimed to give the player maximum dramatic impact of naval battles and violent desperate fights in the times of last greatest piracy renascence, when shipbuilding hadn't quite reached it's pinnacle but the spirit of the age and the wonder of recent innovations in sailing technology inspired nautical heroes (installment of the first Gatling Gun is only one of the possible ship upgrades).

In SLoD third person view (preset tracing cameras, smart ‘dramatic’ cameras, and standard ‘behind the head’ views) is a primary game view for both ship battles part of the game and foot adventures of Abraham. All game action happens in real-time, and is diluted with in-game engine cut-scenes after certain goals are completed or new set. SLoD is to be created with use of RenderWare 3.6 graphics technology and will only provide a single player game mode.

Swashbucklers: Legacy of Drake key features:

    • Thrilling atmosphere of political intrigues and treasure hunting in times of last greatest Caribbean piracy renascence
    • Blend of exiting high seas battles, fast-paced third person viewed swordfights and skirmishes
    • Character based liner cinematographic style storyline and game structure
    • Large variety of gameplay forms and challenges: from ‘beat’ em up’ style fights and sneaking to pirate raids and massive naval battles
    • In-game engine cut scenes for more dramatic, cinematographic style plot development
    • Different bonuses and options for ship upgrade (additional guns of larger caliber, red-hot balls, powder rockets and other ‘high end’ weapons of early 19th century
    • Realistic ‘Victorian naval paintings’ style of graphics based on RenderWare 3.6 Graphics technology and own in-house rendering technologies
    • Variety of cold-steel weapons and firearms for character to choose from and master
    • Authentic sounds with epic classical symphony orchestra score and 3D sounds options support


Port Royale 2
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Pirates! - I had some time to gets some hands-on play with the Sid Meiers update of the classic Pirates game. The dev team are hoping to keep the flavor of the original game--unrestricted sailing, exploring, and swashbuckling--with updated 3D graphics and audio effects. Included are multiple storylines and strong lines of plot continuity. The missions are varied and engaging, some require stealth, others demand bluster and courage. You can accept tasks and missions or freeboot, the choice is yours. A lot of Piratey tongue in cheek runs throughout the game, ensuring the gameplay will not be sterile. You can even add your own logo to your ship's sails.

The sword fighting uses more key combinations and tactics than the simple thrust and parry version in Pirates of the Caribbean. Your character moves with more fluidity and can jump over sword slashes and duck under them, back the opposing captain up the stairs, and move around better in general.

The graphics are first-rate. The ships have a lot of detail and include little crews bustling about manning the ropes and cannons. On the shore side, the villages are big affairs, lots of streets and buildings to explore. I was impressed with the quality of the interiors, such as the tavern. Really nice, and the AI characters looked great. I can't wait to go back and hit on the blonde tavern wench.

Look for a full preview of Pirates! in Subsim Review soon. For more Pirates! E3 info, check the excellent Pirates Ahoy! article.


Buka Entertainment
Pacific Storm



Buka Entertainment
Pacific Storm




Pacific Storm is set to be released by Buka Entertainment in the first part of 2005. Set in the Pacific theater as the name implies, Pacific Storm is a hybrid strategy game that also allows players to take first person control of some platforms (among which should be subs) and play as a sim. Both the US and Japanese sides are available to play, so this gives subsim skippers their first crack at helming the Japanese subs. That said, the amount of sim-control seems to be rather limited compared to a Sub Command/SH2 type sim.

The list of ships, planes, and weapons the player can command (strategy level) include aircraft carriers, destroyers, battleships, PT boats, submarines, merchant ships, troop transports, along with artillery and antiaircraft guns. Planes include fighter planes, torpedo bombers, and heavy bombers. Units will have experience that can be carried over from different battles.

The game also features resource management, an interesting element. This means the player will need to oversee mining and petroleum shipping to keep the war machine running, an excellent concept for a naval game. Also, the player will be able to research future weaponry such as rocket cruisers, nuclear and bacteriological weapons.

Dev team is Lesta Studios.

Nvidia Stand
Pirates of the Burning Sea
Link to Pirates Ahoy article
SCS Dangerous Waters Preview by Tim Grab

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