Silent Hunter III
|Silent Hunter III|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
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.
Silent Hunter III features a dynamic campaign. Instead of giving the player a specific set of objectives for each mission, Silent Hunter III simply assigns the player a certain patrol grid, and appropriate naval traffic, such as convoys, destroyer escorts, and task forces are 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 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.
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).
Playable U-boats & Flotillas
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.
- Type II A & D Variants
- Type VII B, C, C/41 & C/42 Variants
- Type IX B, C, C/40 & D2 Variants
- Type XXI
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.
- 1st & 7th U-Boat Flotillas (1939): Headquartered at Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, later transferred to bases in Occupied France
- 2nd U-Boat Flotilla (1940)
- 10th & 11th U-Boat Flotillas (1942)
- 29th U-Boat Flotilla: The only Mediterranean based flotilla in the game
Weapons and equipment
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.
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." (corresponding to Leutnant zur See) 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.
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.
- Silent Hunter, released in 1996.
- Silent Hunter II, released in 2001.
- Silent Hunter 4 released in spring 2007
- Silent Hunter V, released in 2010
- In the German Kriegsmarine, these ranks were collectively known as Matrosenfeldwebel, literally "Sailor Sergeants"
- The highest combat award of the Third Reich - the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds is not available in the game