Top positive review
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Superb new edition in the series
on 26 June 2005
Following in the tradition of its predecessors Silent Hunter II provides a realistic (to the best of knowledge) submarine simulator played from a German (no other navy is availible) perspective during the Battle for the Atlantic and its prologue.
This game focusses upon the career mode (although one off missions exist and their is a well concealed custom mission editor tool). You choose the start year and flottila (this determines your base of operations and boats availible). From here through completing missions set by U-boat command you accrue renown (used to purchase new crew members, and upgrades of or to your boat) and promotions, medals and qualifications to distribute amongst your crew. If you are successful you are awarded with medals and very occassionally promotion (so far once promoted over 21 successful patrols).
The gameplay is engrossing with visble crew members interacting with a beautifully rendered U-boat interior and exterior. The missions require navigation, stealth, cunning and if you opt for manual torpedo settings: mathematical aptitude (although this can be avoided through use of the automatic solutions option). The realism of patrols is self-determined as you select from a variety of options to determine effective difficulty.
There are a few problems with the game which I feel should be made clear however. You will need a lot of RAM to play this (512mb min req) which can prove frustrating, and it takes an age to load up both the main menu from startup and individual missions, although overall it operates fine on my min spec computer. There is a facility to accelerate time for those long treks in and out of operational zone however at times this is frustratingly slow as you wallow along on 1/3 speed over the Herculian Brest to Azores trip (roughly 5 minutes at 1024x speed). The time acceleration is also limited when nearby enemy shipping, which is irritating if you merely intend to slink past. My machine crashes the game every so often and requires me to save every so often or risk losing litterally hours of work (although this may not be a general problem). This brings me onto my final point: each patrol is designed to make you feel like it is long and thus patrols can take upwards of three hours. The shortest I have ever been on was about an hour. This is not a pick up, play and drop game, it requires time if you want to play on a patrol-at-a-time basis.
To conclude in the traditional fashion: this is a great game. It is not a blasting blitz of gunfire and explosions but a fear inspiring, nerve wracking game of tension, hope and occassional blind panic (argh, there's a destroyer 100m off the port bow emerging from the fog! CRASH DIVE!). If I had my money back again I would still definitely buy it.