Silent Service

a game by Ultra Soft

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Simulation

  • Manufacturer: MICROPROSE
  • Machine: IBM PC

Silent Service II may not be an easy game to master, but adherence to sound military planning and established naval procedures can make even a landlubber into a seaman first class.

When pursuing a war career, the best long-range strategy is to start in the Philippines, despite the need to relocate to Australia fairly early in the game. Since technological improvements become available much faster in COMSUBPAC, it's best to relocate there at the end of a patrol. Upgrade boats and equipment as quickly as possible, but don't put yourself in the yards at a historical period of high enemy activity. If that is the case, it's often better to stay in the fray for one extra patrol.

As the Navy island-hops across the Pacific, restage to forward bases whenever possible in order to minimize the amount of transit time in your patrol zone. Always select patrol zones that coincide with the historical hot spots of the war, during the times when the enemy was most active in that location. Near the end of the war, concentrate on zones near mainland Japan; their fleet rarely ventured forth from those locations. Yet local merchant traffic and other "targets of opportunity" remained plentiful in the inland waters of the island chain.

Despite perfect strategic planning, the player cannot survive for long without a firm understanding of WWII submarine tactics. Although there's no single method for success in every engagement, what follows is a breakdown of elements to combine as the commander sees fit for any given situation.

Daylight attacks are naturally more dangerous, due to increased visibility and the enemies' counter-detection range. The classic maneuver for engaging a slow-moving convoy in such conditions is the "end around". Maneuver on the surface parallel to the convoy at a higher speed, taking care to remain outside their visible range even as the targets zigzag. When sufficiently ahead of the convoy, submerge to periscope depth and come to a stop. Lower the periscope and track their approach on the hydrophone. Try to position your ship so that the high-value target (ie., aircraft carrier, battleship or heavily guarded merchant) will pass at the closest point of approach for the bow tubes (800 yards is ideal). This frequently means that enemy destroyers are close astern right when you're ready to attack. Pop up the periscope only at the last moment, when the target is broadside at close range, and empty the bow tubes at it. Quickly go to full ahead without waiting for the torpedoes to hit, rotate the periscope 180 degrees and try for a quick shot on the enemy vessels that are closing in by this time.

Crash dive as soon as the shots are off and pass underneath the primary target (which is not depth-charge capable). If it has been crippled but not sunk, it is even possible to hide directly underneath the burning hulk, and it's very difficult for the enemy to attack. Go to 20 feet above maximum depth or the bottom, whichever is closer, and run silent until the destroyers disengage.

In a depth-charge attack, go silent immediately and release debris to, hopefully, convince them they've succeeded. Bear in mind that releasing debris without silent running has no effect if they still hear the submarine making way through the water. After the enemy leaves the screen, surface and finish off the target with gunfire.

A good daylight tactic for convoys with only one or two destroyers is to run at them on the surface at 20 knots until the destroyers spot the sub and open fire. At this point, crash dive to periscope depth with hard rudder to bring the stern tubes to bear, and head directly away at ten knots. Despite the speed advantage of the destroyers, it usually takes some time for them to close the range. They will head on a direct course to intercept, so you can engage each with shots from the stern tubes, taking care to attack the closest one first. Despite the poor angle of attack, the combined speed of a torpedo moving at 40 knots and the destroyer closing at 30 knots precludes the enemy from having time to turn and avoid the shot. Of course, there is always a danger of duds, but there's usually time to get off two shots on each destroyer. Once the destroyers are sunk, surface and engage the merchants with gunfire at leisure.

If a convoy is protected by three to five destroyers, shadow the group until night before attacking. Operating at night allows the use of some of the tactics already discussed, but adds the advantage of speed and surprise. Try to proceed undetected on the surface at 20 knots until close aboard. It is best to head directly at the convoy to minimize your ship's silhouette.

The best submarine commanders were a cautious lot who meticulously set up each attack with their escape route already planned out. Learn from their wisdom and you will survive to celebrate V-J Day.

Other games by
Ultra Soft

Silent Service Downloads

NES Silent Service download
  • Machine: Nintendo

Because Ultra is also shipping you off to the South Pacific for some brutal combat in Silent Service, the super-realistic World War II submarine simulation loaded with torpedoes and depth charges.

Either way, Ultra will have you fighting for air. And only the strong will survive.

reggie posted a review
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