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Conclusion

I get a kick out of WWII U-Boat / submarine simulations like no other genre.

If done right, you will be rewarded with periods of nothing followed with long periods executing a slow precision attack often followed by the long slow process of avoiding the escorts hell bent on your destruction.

That is not to say there are not moments of intense combat, such as a close range contact in the middle of a rainsquall with only minutes to press home your attack before the ship slips back into the blanket of rain and the chance is lost or when a plane has caught you unaware on the surface.

You have to love a good U-Boat/submarine sim! A thinking man’s action game.

To be a successful U-Boat Captain took skill, daring, courage, tactical awareness, nerves of steel and moments of luck. For those that excelled came fame and a place in the history books.

The reason for enduring the less exciting parts of a U-Boat / submarine simulation is primarily the ‘hunt’, that period between detecting the enemy and hopefully sinking him. In the hunt, you pit your skills and decisions against the enemy in an effort to outmanoeuvre him.

The amount of ships sunk and the total tonnage should be a measure of our skill as a hunter and at your ability to best the hunter when you become the hunted.

Satisfaction in sinking a ship comes from besting the challenges of the hunt. It does not come from simply sinking the ship.

What does it take to be a successful Captain in Silent Hunter III?

Sadly, to be a successful Captain in Silent Hunter III requires little more than finding a ship and charging in like a bull at a matador, taking aim and firing.

The current state of the AI and the Damage Model are to blame for this. Notice I did not say bad AI or Damage Model. While the result is quite bad, it is my opinion that Silent Hunter III has been released 3-6 months early and the AI and Damage Model are hopefully simply unfinished.

Regardless, the result is the same. There is no need to do what a real Captain would and submerge before being seen and making a mad submerged dash hoping to be able to attain a suitable attack position possibly to see your target sail by out of your reach. Nor is there any need to take time making an end round on your target, keeping just the ships masts on the horizon until you are in a position to wait until dark or submerging to make your attack.

Why bother when it makes no difference as the Merchant AI will not run from you and even when the merchant ships do get deck guns, the ‘Tiger Tank’ damage model will ensure that the merchant deck guns are little more than a mosquito bite.

Escort deck guns are annoying but not a big issue, meaning you can hang around the choke points with little concern.

Couple the above with the fact that you can easily sink more ships with deck gun than you can torpedoes you will soon find your tonnage reaching figures exceeding the Kriegsmarine’s wildest dreams.

The measure of a simulation is how well it allows you to match, and maybe slightly better the successes of those who are now a part of history. Satisfaction is derived from the feeling of having earned your place at, or near the top of the tonnage board. On this, we will have to wait for the AI and the Damage Model issues to be resolved.

In the end, the lack of challenge means that for the most part your successes have little meaning and are no longer a reason to keep playing once you have worn out the wow factor, of which Silent Hunter III has lots of wow.

I came to Silent Hunter III with hope and modest expectations. Silent Hunter III has exceeded my expectations in so many ways with the stunning graphics, a crew, a good sailing model, a Dynamic Random Campaign based upon real shipping lanes and convoy routes, AI that responds to your presence and changeable weather.

I come away with the undeniable fact that Silent Hunter III is yet to be finished.

What Works

  • Graphics
  • Sounds
  • Dynamic Random Campaign
  • Crew
  • Weather

What Needs Work

  • AI for the Escorts
  • Dynamic Random Campaign
  • Crew
  • Merchant Damage Model
  • AI governing the responses to your reported sighting
  • Plotting Map tools
  • Weather

What is broken

  • U-boat Damage Model
  • AI for the Merchant Ships
  • AI for the Aircraft
  • Crew

The Dev Team are committed to patching Silent Hunter III and are currently hard at work on the next patch. There are strong indications that Ubisoft will continue to support Silent Hunter III with further patches.

A finished Silent Hunter III will be a very strong contender for “Sim of the Year”, if not “Game of the Year” and would be the undisputed king of U-Boat / submarine simulations.

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