Sound wise Silent Hunter III excels on so many levels. The sounds in Silent Hunter III are in perfect harmony with the graphics from the sounds of the ocean lapping against your hull and the splash as your bow cuts through a wave to the squawking of the ever present seagulls.
The many different voices of your crew are crisp, clear and pleasant. They relay the situation perfectly with their tone including at times urgency.
It is hard to express the tension generated by the groans and eerie creaks of your hull as you dive ever deeper past your theoretical crush depth or the sense of how powerful nature is upon hearing the low rumble of thunder as you are lookout at the storm ahead.
The volumes at which external sounds are heard while submerged are very low. From war footage, not ‘movies’, I feel that the sounds are well under what they should be. Firstly, at depth I can barely hear an escort through the hull, even when directly overhead and unless you are sitting on top of a sinking ship your will most likely not hear its sinking sounds. Secondly, the ADSIC seems to be excessively loud, drowning out what little sound there is to hear of the escorts’ propellers etc.
In addition, the sound of running water when you have a leak? (As the damage reports are somewhat lacking, I cannot be sure that I always have a leak when hearing this sound) and/or the shallow water creaks drown out all other sounds.
This makes it difficult when evading escorts as your situation awareness is basically nil. The only way you can overcome this is to sit at the hydrophone yourself, not a practical option. What is required, is for the volume of the external sounds to be corrected and for the reports from your sonarman expanded from more than tell me the closest contact only, to ‘report all’ including type of contact, estimated range of, close, medium and long along with direction.
The in-game music is good, but is nothing to write home about. I must also say that a game like Silent Hunter III does not lend itself to continuous music (cannot be turned off in-game) because of the type of game play.
There is a ‘gramophone’ feature in which you can add your own music to play during a mission. Unlike the ‘music’ you can turn this on and off at will.
Ship Recognition Manual
The in-game Ship Recognition Manual is your U-Boat bible. In this on-screen manual, you will find all the ships in Silent Hunter III.
The Ship Recognition Manual is only accessible when at the periscopes or the UZO. Having access to the manual in the Attack Map, where you set the torpedo depth, detonation type and multiple torpedo spread, would make it a lot easier when executing an attack.
For each ship, you will have a sidelong image, with data about the length, beam, tonnage (important one that!), max speed, draft and mast height. There is also a second view of the ship that shows it from directly ahead, at 20° and at 45°.
The Ship Recognition Manual is an essential tool for any successful attack.
For the casual player using the Weapons Officer for calculating torpedo solutions the Ship Recognition Manual will be useful to help choose the depth of your torpedoes and to check the speed against what your Weapons Officers has indicated that target is travelling.
For the player who wishes to do full manual TDC the Ship Recognition Manual is an essential and integrated tool in acquiring a manual firing solution.
When doing a manual TDC solution, as you look at the enemy ship through your periscope you open the Ship Recognition Manual and select the ship that you believe to be what you are looking at. Once you have done this, you will then be able to use the built in stadimeter to calculate the ships distance. By performing this task several times and marking it off on the plotting map you will be able to calculate the ships speed by the distance it has travelled over a period of time.
Having introduced neutral and allied shipping to Silent Hunter III, it is beyond me why the Ship Recognition Manual does not include the flags for each country and a reference to the alliance of that country for that period of the war. An oversight that hopefully will be corrected in the future.
The only other complaint I have about the Ship Recognition Manual is that it shows every ship regardless of year. That is, the Victory Ship which was not even conceived in 1939 is present in the Ship Recognition Manual in 1939. However this is a small gripe in the scheme of things.