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. It sought to address many of the complaints leveled against its predecessor, specifically the lack of a dynamic campaign.
Silent Hunter III features a fully 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.
A stated goal of the developer was to fully immerse the player. The game featured a fully 3D U-Boat control room, allowing the player the freedom to move about the interior of the submarine. Unlike other submarine simulations, where the crew is often heard but not seen, Silent Hunter III allows the player to see and interact with crewmembers. The game also tracks the stats of individual crewmembers, such as rank, experience, morale, and decorations, between missions.
In addition, the game provides ten 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, and passing through the Straits of Gibraltar (in a nod to Das Boot, the player commands U-96 in the Gibraltar mission).
Players can upgrade their U-boat's anti-aircraft gun(s), deck gun, diesel engines, batteries, radar, and sonar, and install special features such as a radar detector and anti-radar and -sonar coatings. Many different enemy vessels and aircraft are included.
While the dynamic campaign goes a long way to addressing the criticisms of the previous Silent Hunter titles, some gameplay issues still remain such as destroyers/escorts depth-charging at slow speeds, which in real life would normally result in critical damage to the destroyer. The Starforce copyright protection used for Silent Hunter III has also been criticized for installing incompatible device drivers.
The stock version of the game (often referred to as "vanilla SH3" by players) 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
Awards, qualifications, and promotions
Throughout a player's career, it is possible to obtain promotions, awards, and qualifications, both for the player and members of the U-Boat crew. U-Boat crew members can be "enlisted" and "dismissed" at will, meaning that, decorated sailors can be rotated out with "green sailors" with no decorations or qualifications. Crew members can also be enlisted at any rank, although any new crew member who joins will have no awards and only officers may be recruited with pre-existing qualifications (enlisted sailors must earn their qualifications underway on the U-Boat).
Crew members can also be promoted based on combat experience. The various ranks listed in the game begin with basic sailors, followed by "Warrant Officers" (in reality Chief Petty Officers), and then officer ranks. A midshipman rank also exists, which is viewed in the game simply as another officer position. The various game ranks for enlisted sailors (as well as their real world Kriegsmarine equivalents) are:
- Seaman (Matrosengefreiter)
- Able Seaman (Matrosenobergefreiter)
- Veteran Seaman (Matrosenhauptgefreiter)
- Warrant Officer (Matrosenoberfeldwebel)
- Senior Warrant Officer (Matrosenhauptfeldwebel)
- Chief Warrant Officer (Matrosenstabsfeldwebel)
Although the lower sailor ranks are referred to in the game as "Seaman", the characters in fact wear the rank of Petty Officer; there are no actual seaman characters available (the rank of Matrose) nor is there a rank of basic Chief Petty Officer (Matrosenfeldwebel) since the warrant officer figures begin with a one pip shoulder strap insignia. It is also 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.
Available officer ranks are:
Midshipman rank is shown as a silver cord with two pips; lower midshipman grades are not used in the game.
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.
SH3 has been patched several times by the developers since its release date with most issues having been addressed. The current version is v1.4b.
Modifications & bugfixes
The simulation has been extensively modified after release, with thousands of improvements and features added by various users of the game.
Installers should note that certain versions of the DVD ROM game, when installing will also use StarForce as its DRM tool.
- Silent Hunter, released in 1996.
- Silent Hunter II, released in 2001.
- Silent Hunter 4 released in spring 2007
- Silent Hunter V, released in 2010