Review: Silent Hunter


If you’re the sort who likes to sneak up on your enemies then a submarine simulator is probably the game for you. The Silent Hunter series of games has come to Symbian – in more of an arcade style than a simulator, but that doesn’t lessen the fun. This game lets you try your luck as a German U-Boat captain in World War 2, taking on the British fleet. You’ll have to be aware of the limitations of your boat and use all your cunning though.

Author: Handy Games

Version Reviewed: 1.0

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Silent Hunter on Symbian is viewed from overhead, which creates its 90s arcade feel. However, there is a lot more going on in the background which determines your submarine’s characteristics – making the game feel like a simulator in disguise.

As with all submarine simulators, you can only take advantage of diving for as long as the electrical power lasts. Once it’s depleted, you have to surface and use your diesel engines. Similarly, you only have limited oxygen storage so you will have to surface for fresh air too. As you progress through the game, you can spend medals to buy upgrades, e.g. larger batteries and a snorkel, or training your crew.

Choosing your game type.

The control method of Silent Hunter isn’t immediately obvious, and there isn’t a separate tutorial. There are only two games modes: a one off skirmish or full campaign. Only the latter offers a tutorial, so if you go for a quick battle the first time you play, as I did, you’ll be fumbling around wondering how on earth to control your U-Boat!

Taking down a British aircraft carrier.

Having said that, the controls are pretty straightforward once you’ve been shown the way. There are buttons for switching between surface, periscope depth, and full dive; and you can switch between the anti-air gun and deck cannon for surface engagements. The on-screen instructions were confusing though, suggesting that speed was altered by touching the tiny speed indicator. Instead, speed is increased by swiping stern to bow, and decreased (and reversed) by swiping bow to stern.  Steering is achieved by simply tapping in the direction you want to head.

Confusing tutorial instructions.

The campaign missions range from search and destroy, to stealthy reconnaissance, and even rescue missions. The difficulty of each can depend on how wisely you choose your upgrades. For some reason, equipment upgrades are locked on the lower levels; instead you must concentrate on training your crew during your first few missions. However, there’s no explanation of what benefits there are to upgrading personnel or hardware.

Training your Crew.

Upgrading your equipment.

I found the submarine quite unwieldy to pilot, but then that is the nature of the beast. Specifically, getting the submarine lined up to let loose torpedoes. Also, there’s no map room so you can’t plot a course, all you have is sonar for detecting nearby ships. The graphics look dated too, resembling the Coin-Op games I used to play when I was a kid.

Using your anti-air gun to take down air patrols.

Despite all of this, I found the gameplay to be noticeably addictive. I really wanted to achieve my primary goals while remaining undetected as long as possible. If a game can make you so easily slip into character, it is doing something right!

If you’re interested in this sort of game, I can happily recommend that you spend your money on this one. Silent Hunter: U-Boat Aces is £3.00 in the Nokia Store.

David Gilson, 26th February 2012.

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