Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific
There's 10,000 Tons of ship sat in front of my sub's bow and I can't sink it Not because I haven't the ammo, not because it's escorted by destroyers, and not because of a mutiny. It's because it's a passenger liner. So when I fire two torpedoes and it sinks in about ten seconds, leaving nothing but empty bobbing life-rafts, I feel guilty but my reputation has soared. I've just been rewarded for killing thousands of people. And we wonder why the Daily Mail hates videogames...
Dogs Of The Ditch
Silent Hunter is another game that breeds war stories, the old guts-and-glory nonsense that Canderous spouted so hypnotically in Knights Of The Old Republic. You control a WWI I submarine (Silent Hunter III was solely German WWI-based) in the Pacific rim, sinking Japanese ships from Pearl Harbour to the East China Sea.
However, if you've never played a Silent Hunter game before, you'll be confused by the tutorials. Your orders are communicated via radio messages, which are hidden at the screen's right Sadly, the game hardly tells you the basics, so your first half hour is a struggle - working out that firing is done with the space bar rather than the mouse, that zooming works with the tab and so on.
Once you get past that initial irritation, it's one of the best underwater games. It's more about management than action, but it combines the two slickly. Most of the time you're just sitting in your bridge, scanning the horizon, making sure the three shifts of your (scarily silent, deadeyed) sailors aren't tired, that your boat isn't leaking, picking up the news, reporting on historical events and so on. If you're hardcore, you'll play it in real-time, but most of us mortals don't have four years to spare, so the ability to speed the game up to around 8,000 times normal helps.
Then you'll pick up a ship on radar or sonar and zero in on it by drawing lines and circles on the map and doing complex maths, or by guessing. As you get closer, you'll drop beneath the waves, switch to the periscopes, slow the engine to a silent-running crawl and try to get a beam of the enemy to identify it "Then you'll wait and wait, and after an average of three days of hunting, you'll get a couple of violent minutes as your torpedoes strike the ship at the waterline. It's a wonderful mechanic, asking you to display tactical nous and massive amounts of patience in return for a blast of excitement.
Puppies Of The Puddle
Once you run out of ammo, or your ship's damaged (your ship is horrifyingly fragile), or you complete your mission, you'll be sent back to base to restock. There, you can spend your renown (based on the tonnage you've sunk) on recruiting better crews, upgrading your sub's armament or even buying a new sub. Then it's back out into the seas, to send more innocents to Davy Jones' Locker.
There's a historical mission mode included now too, which allows you to take part in 15 classic battles, plus wolfpack (co-op) and versus modes have also returned. There are flaws though: the game really shouldn't have made it past Ubisoft's QA with its stability issues and annoying bugs, it auto-slows when ships or planes are detected, the crew look like extras from a vampire film and it's not always clear how to do things. That said, if you're looking for a challenge and you fancy a rotting tub full of seamen, then this is das best aboot.
Real to real
What percentage is your reality?
Like the other Silent Hunters before it Wolves allows you to tweak the realism settings to your own preferences. You can alter the fuel, air, CO2 build-up, battery, ammunition, crew tiredness, use of external cameras and many other settings. The most challenging settings are changing from standard Al-guided torpedoes, where you just select your target and can check out its path on the attack map, to the completely manual settings where you have to use a ship recognition manual to identify your target's height From that you determine how far away it is and how fast it's moving, and set the clockwork on the gyroscope so that the torpedo travels in the right curve and explodes at the right moment We think there are probably about ten people in the world who can do that with any degree of accuracy, and they probably all work in theoretical physics. We'll stick to our 50% reality setting, thank you very much.
Download Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP