Silent Hunter III

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Silent Hunter III
Silent Hunter III Coverart.png
Developer(s) Ubisoft Romania
Publisher(s) Ubisoft
Platform(s) PC
Release date(s)
  • NA March 15, 2005
  • PAL March 18, 2005
Genre(s) Submarine simulator
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Distribution DVD-ROM

Silent Hunter III is a submarine simulation developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PC on March 15, 2005. Like Silent Hunter II, it places the player in command of a German U-Boat during World War II and the Battle of the Atlantic.

Gameplay features[edit]

Silent Hunter III features two methods of play - either a dynamic campaign or single mission objectives.

U-Boat Campaign[edit]

In the campaign version of the game, a player begins their career as a "Lieutenant, Jr." (corresponding to Leutnant zur See), with the choice of initial assignments to a U-Boat base between the years 1939 and 1944. The war time and political situation of World War II is reflected in the geographical area and time period which the player begins their career.

The Silent Hunter III campaign will assign the player a certain patrol grid with appropriate naval traffic (such as convoys, destroyer escorts, and task forces) automatically generated by the simulation engine. How the mission proceeds and what targets are attacked is left totally up to the player. In addition to being a more accurate representation of WWII U-Boat warfare, the dynamic campaign significantly improves the game's replay value, as the campaign plays out differently each time. The player also has the option to change realism settings on the submarine - these features include the U-Boat having only a set amount of fuel as well as various game play assistance features involving navigation, weapons, and the ability to switch to external camera mode to view the submarine's surroundings.

The most difficult realism setting in the game allows a player to manually target torpedoes for an attack on enemy vessels. In the manual targeting feature, the player must observe vessels, determine their class and nationality, as well as calculate speed, angle on the bow, and gyro angle for torpedo launch. The player also has the option to set torpedo depth and spread shot with multiple weapons. De-selecting manual targeting allows a "Weapons Officer" to make these determinations for the player, although approaching targets at certain angles and determining relative motion is still a factor.

The simulation engine further generates various coastal and port cities, which appear as large harbors surrounded on the outskirts by town buildings, churchs, and factories. It is possible for the player to sail into such ports (friendly, neutral, or hostile) and either dock or engage moored targets. Some of the cities available are Portsmouth, Scapa Flow, New York City, Norfolk, Virginia, and Tampa, Florida. Although possible to sail to South America and into the Pacific, the simulation will not generate traffic or port cities for these regions.

The game features a fully 3D U-Boat control room, allowing the player the ability to look around the interior of certain submarine rooms. Unlike other submarine simulations, where the crew is often heard but not seen, Silent Hunter III allows the player to see and interact with crew members. The game also tracks the stats of individual crew members, such as rank, experience, morale, and decorations between missions. A limited weather generator is also used, which creates winds, rain, and heavy seas at random. The most significant factor of weather is that a submarine may not fire deck guns in heavy seas; crew members standing bridge watches in rain and wind are also shown to be wearing raincoats.

Single Missions[edit]

In addition, the game provides historical single-player missions. These include saving the Bismarck, sinking the Royal Oak in Scapa Flow, attacking a task force as the first Type XXI U-boat, avoiding capture as the U-505, sinking the HMS Barham and passing through the Straits of Gibraltar (in a nod to Das Boot, the player commands U-96 in the Gibraltar mission).

Ships and Vessels[edit]

Main article: U-boat

The stock version of the game includes the following playable U-boats. The player enters the war with only a limited choice of U-boats if they choose to start in 1939. However, the types of U-boat available to the player can vary greatly depending on the year during which the player wants to start their career in. To transfer to another U-boat, the player has to spend "renown" (points awarded to the player every time a patrol is completed). U-boat costs can vary from 500 to 30,000 points depending on the type of U-boat chosen.

The specific base at which a player is stationed depends on the parent command U-Boat flotilla. In all, the following higher echelon commands are available for assignment.

Enemy Warships[edit]

Throughout the campaign, enemy vessels will attempt to hunt and destroy the player's submarine. The option to abandon ship is not available meaning that the game will only end if a submarine is completely destroyed with all of the crew killed. The most common type of adversary encountered in the game is the destroyer escort. Armed trawlers will also appear if the player ventures extremely close to an enemy shoreline. Other generic adversary craft include auxiliary cruisers and corvettes.

Larger warships, such as battleships, escort carriers and cruisers are only rarely encountered in the standard campaign but also generated more often in the historic and mission specific scenarios. A complete index of enemy vessels is as follows.

Battleships

Carriers

Cruisers

Destroyers

Destroyer escorts

Corvettes

Frigates

Patrol boats

Merchant targets[edit]

Weapons and equipment[edit]

As the player advances through the game, various upgrades for U-boat weapons and equipment become available; early access to advanced technology may be gained through prestige and renown as acquired after successful U-boat patrols. In all, the player may upgrade torpedo types, diesel engines, electric batteries, hydrophones, anti-aircraft guns, deck guns, and (late in the game) gain access to anti-sonar and radar technology. The player may also custom design U-boat conning towers with U-boat insignia, emblems, and additional gun emplacements.

Character Careers[edit]

A feature of Silent Hunter III, enhanced as well in Silent Hunter IV, allows the player to both advance in a personal career as well as control career paths for crew members. The crew is divided into three "classes" - officers, warrant officers (in actuality petty officers[N 1]), and seaman; three ranks in each class are available for a total of nine crew ranks in the game. For crew members, it is not possible to promote sailors between the various castes, such as advancing a seaman to warrant officer or commissioning a warrant officer as an officer. The historical enlisted rank of junior petty officer (Maat) also does not appear in the game.

The player begins the game as a "Lieutenant, Jr." and may advance in rank to "Lieutenant, Sr." after completing a number of patrols and earning "renown" which are points awarded based on the total number of ships and merchants destroyed. A supreme rank of Lieutenant Commander (corresponding to Kapitänleutnant) is attainable after earning 15,000 renown points. Higher officer ranks are not available while the officer training rank of Oberfähnrich zur See (denoted in the game as "Sub-Lieutenant") may only be held by officer crew members.

The gameplay allows for the award of the Iron Cross (First and Second Class), Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, German Cross, U-boat War Badge, and U-boat Front Clasp. Crew members (but not the player) may further earn the Wound Badge while the player (but not crew members) may upgrade the Knight's Cross to include the appenditures of oak leaves, swords, and diamonds.[N 2] All awards are de-nazified to remove Nazi symbols such as the swastika.

Throughout the game, the player may also issue qualification badges to members of the crew, making them more efficient at certain duty stations. Only officers and warrant officers may receive qualification badges; officers may hold three qualifications while a warrant officer may hold one. Crew members must further be rotated off of watch at regular intervals to avoid fatigue with certain awards and badges decreasing the rate of fatigue and allowing the crew member to stay on watch longer. In combat and while underwater, fatigue increases exponentially.

Reception[edit]

The game was critically praised, receiving a score of 8.8 out of 10 from IGN, an 8.9 out of 10 ("Great") from GameSpot, as well as a 5 out of 5 by GameSpy. It is the highest-rated installation of the Silent Hunter series.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In the German Kriegsmarine, these ranks were collectively known as Matrosenfeldwebel, literally "Sailor Sergeants"
  2. ^ Including the highest combat award of the Third Reich - the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds

External links[edit]