Reviewed: April 10, 2005
Reviewed by: Tyler Whitney



Released: March 15, 2005
Genre: Simulation
Players: 8
ESRB: Teen


System Requirements

  • Windows 2000/XP Only
  • Pentium III 1.4 GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 64 MB DirectX Video Card
  • DirectX 9 Sound Card
  • 1.5 GB Hard Drive Space
  • 4x DVD-ROM

    Recommended System

  • Pentium 4 2.0 GHz
  • 128 MB DirectX Video Card

    Screenshots (Click Image for Gallery)

  • Silent Hunter III has been a long time coming for eager simulation fans out there, especially those who love to shout “DIVE DIVE DIVE!” at the top of their lungs in the wee hours of the morning. Ubisoft's Romania team brings us another classic title in this legendary series, complete with updated graphics, sounds and features that shine with doting affection of a talented development team.

    I recall stories my grandpa would tell of his days at sea in World War 2, deep beneath the Atlantic sea hunting German U-boats and the like. It was a harrowing experience and he truly conveyed it to me as such. Thankfully, Ubisoft has beautifully translated that tension and power of the submarine “cat and mouse” game played throughout the last great war in Silent Hunter III.

    People new to this type of game should immediately run through the excellent Naval Academy first off, and even old veterans could use a brush up on techniques. This tutorial goes over all the basic functions of captaining a U-boat (sub). Included are the standard guided hints as you explore your ship, but also present are informative video clips on how everything functions; from the engine to the torpedo tubes it’s all covered.

    Once you feel comfortable with your ship, you can choose to start in 1939 at the start of conflict in WW2, or 1943 when it was tougher times to be a German U-boat captain. Sadly, this is the only country you can play for, but thankfully they packed so much into said country from numerous subs, such as the type II, VII, IX and XXI, as well as fighting against a wide assortment of enemies, that you won’t mind in the long run.

    While you have a wealth of options at your command, you can have the solid A.I., take control, such as monitoring your hull integrity and oxygen levels, as well as firing solutions and navigation. Of course those who want to have total control, you can do so by manning just about every station and instrument onboard manually.

    The missions and campaigns themselves are varied form patrols to escorts, some days you may go up against a large war fleet, while others you may take on lightly defended cargo vessels headed to Europe for the allied relief effort, or medical ships on their way back home. You truly feel like a predator, and I can see where the term “wolf pack” has been used to describe a group of subs on the prowl.

    Be carefully though, the A.I. is pretty sharp in this title. Destroyers and anti-sub planes will pair up as they scan the seas for subs, scattering depth charges and sonar pings in a desperate search; although at times they will let you down. They may oddly ram you or not call for back up via radio, but other than that you should feel matched up well. If things get too dicey in game, you have 4 adjustable levels of difficulty as well as smaller options, such as turning on/off dud torpedoes or manual targeting.

    The visuals are STUNNING. Absolutely stunning. Now my machine is no powerhouse but I was just floored by the level of detail present here. Previously Enigma: Rising Tide was impressive, but Silent Hunter III just blows it out of the water. Not many games do I really feel like I’m on the deck of a ship; but as you scan the horizon, noting the glint of the sun in your binoculars, the rust stains on ships and even – I swear, seagull droppings, you are really brought into this world.

    The different camera modes only help to beautify this game; you can roam around in free look mode and examine every gorgeous detail. A favorite of mine was tracking my torpedoes to target, sometimes ending in glorious explosions or a less than gratifying thunk as a dud torpedo (optional for realism) bounces off the hull off an enemy vessel. But if you do manage to land a hit, the variable damage system will show a realistic sinking action. Just fantastic.

    Ships aside, even the crew members are modeled in full 3D, with all the German emblems and apparel recreated in stunning polygons. At times they may look a bit stiff, but overall they add more to the recreation of this harrowing period.

    Ubisoft has done an outstanding job in this area. The ambient feel is unmatched, from crashing waves to thunderous deck guns of destroyers or your very own sub, every is painstakingly recreated in this virtual world. Even the little things are modeled here, such as the water pressure against the hull as you dive deeper and your own crew whispering when you order to run silent.

    The soundtrack is equally impressive and historically fitting. It reminds me a lot of the classic sub movies like K-19 and Hunt for Red October. It changes from situation to situation, subdued while moving silently on the bottom, trying to evade destroyers and anti-submarine planes, but deafening when engaged in full on attacks when surfaced. Truly some of the best sound I have heard in a PC title EVER.

    With online co-op play with up to 8 people via LAN, as well as a customizable mission editor, that alone should provide months of action. Coupled with the fact the online community will swap missions around, you needn’t worry about having to create all your own.

    Also, the very nature of the missions allows for multiple paths to complete; you can all out assault an objective or sneak in and take them out without the hint of you being there, sans the burning hulks you leave behind.

    Silent Hunter III is a gem of a simulation game; for that matter it’s easily one of the top war games of ALL TIME. With stunning visuals and sound, intricate realism and endless replay value (online/mission editor/nature of missions themselves) Silent Hunter III is a great value indeed. Ubisoft should be extremely proud of this title as it carries on the winning tradition of the Silent Hunter series in winning fashion. Hunt, hide, and kill, captains of the fleet!