The pre-campaign or “war patrol” training sessions let you know what you will need to “get you through”. Each training mission is very simplistic. If you are a veteran of any of the previous versions, it will simply bore you to death. However, if this is your first encounter with the Silent Hunter series the tutorials will “set the stage” for what you will encounter on the high seas in your first naval combat campaign.
Humorously, on one of the descriptions you have to excuse calling your US submarine a “U-Boat”!
As a submarine warfare simulation game set during World War II, and keeping in mind that this game is not perfect, this release will be very hard to top. Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific offers a full 3D simulation of US submarine warfare which faithfully reproduces not only the interior of a submarine very well, it also renders the exterior of the boats and the surrounding world with a significant amount of detail. I found the campaign missions to be rewarding in terms of historical accuracy and a real feeling for what actually happened during this time frame. Missions are mostly of the “find some merchant ships or warships and then sink them” variety, but you do get the occasional rendezvous, drop combat teams off, or recon type missions to round out your experience. The campaign lets you “grow” in ability and provides your crew with rank and awards throughout the entire war. There is always a next level of achievement challenge, so you’ll not be at a loss for something to accomplish.
Ubisoft has made a big deal out of the scalable realism model in the game and it seems as if they have delivered on their promise. The game lets you get as involved as you like in the finer details of submarine management. If you want to plot your own firing solutions for the torpedoes, you can do that, however the computer will automate many of these processes if you’re a little timid in accomplishing those steps by yourself.
The part I found a little “over the top” was the crew management process. You set exactly who specifically will accomplish what on your submarine. You specifically set which crew members man damage control, the deck gun, AA gun, and the other important areas of the subs operations like propulsion, engineering, and torpedo rooms. Then you can award them medals for their achievements in battle. Personally, that is just too much delving into the “administrative” aspects for a game that is primarily about submarine warfare in the Pacific.
When playing in campaign mode, you are given specific orders to follow. You are given some flexibility to go out searching for contacts, without interfering in the ultimate goals. That’s nice!
But there are some problems. I found that on a long campaign mission, my PC will struggle to keep up with my orders, moving between stations, and viewing my navigation maps. The frame rates go way down to like 5 fps from a normal 45-60 fps obtainable in other parts of the game. At that point the game becomes almost unplayable. This has happened to me on several occasions after playing for an hour or two on the same campaign. Even after I save my progress and then reload the mission again, the problem remains. I have also recently encountered a weapons problem via an in-game bug. When I go into port for a “refit”, my torpedoes and my AA gun’s ammo get replenished, however my deck gun’s ammo is not. Then there’s that troublesome “A” key problem. The “A” key is supposed to be for “Maintain Depth”, instead when you press it the game immediately goes CTD. It is a known problem and a topic of discussion in the forums. A fix has been promised to be included in the next update / patch (version 1.2) by the development team. The problem is not a show stopper (unless you press the “A” key!). It’s just another one of those annoying bugs you have to work around.