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Can you stand the pressure of command or will you sail your crew into deep water? Look out for that destroyer! Dive! Dive! Dive!

I Silent Service II n the Second World War, being a sub mariner was incredibly dangerous. Proportionally, six times as many servicemen died in US submarines than in the rest of the American Navy. For the men who served, it was the greatest gamble, but when they got it right, the rewards were enormous. And fo the US Admiralty, it was worth it.

Silent Service II places you in command of a American boat (that is sub to you and me) in the Pacific at the height of Japanese seapower. You can choose from a list the type of your vessel (all historically accurate) and can set the difficulty level. Then you are on your own. And it is a big ocean.

The thing with submarines is that unless you are on the surface (or within periscope depth) there is no way of seeing what is going on. You must rely on a chart compiled by your crew members which tells you your heading, bearings to the enemy and, by way of trails, the speed everyone is moving. All other decisions are up to you.

A view from the Bridge
It is advisable to start off on a practice level which pits you against several unarmed hulks lying dead in the water. Pretend they are the enemy, sneak up to them then fill them full of torps. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it is not. You can safely surface, which gives you an outside view, but where you are looking is not necessarily where you are heading. Sort this out and you should be in a position to give your helmsman an intercept course to target. When in range, the torpedoes’ running times appear. Fire too early and not only are the targets too small, but the torpedoes might run out of fuel before reaching their targets. If you are too close they have not got time to arm before striking the enemy hulks.

So as you manoeuvre, you must always be aware of your speed, depth and heading. If you can do all this and keep the enemy firmly in your periscope sights, you might even have the makings of Richard Widmark.

When you are playing against ‘live’ Japanese ships you have a certain amount of time before they are aware of you, so you must slide quickly into an effective killing position, then fire off a spread. This means loosing off all four forward torpedoes whilst turning slightly, so they cover a few degrees. It is a compromise, but it ups the change of at least one hitting. As the Japanese stick close together in convoy and present one big target, with luck they all might score.

Death of a sailsman
Silent Service II explained The waiting game begins. It takes a minute or two at extreme range for the fish to get to their targets, so as soon as you fire, dive, then change course and watch the timers. If you get hits, you will hear the explosions. If you have missed, run! The destroyers will be after you. Destroyers are a submariner’s nightmare. They are faster than you, they can hear you and they have depth-charges.

Ideally, you should be at a safe depth and heading in a direction they will never suspect. That is the theory. In practice you will sneak to the surface to take a peek at the damage you have caused or even blast away with the 47 deck gun. But what you will usually see will make your blood freeze. Destroyers and cruisers, having spotted your periscope or, if you have surfaced, your sail (conning tower), will be heading towards you like huge steel knives. Unless you can out-think them you will be depth charged causing painful damage to your boat. There is a damage screen which you can call up, which has percentages for each part of the sub. Your engines might be hit, the aft structure could be weakened or, at worst, flooding could occur. If it does, at least you will be buried at sea.

The cruise sub hull
Monitoring your sub’s systems when not under direct fire is just as important as battle techniques. The Pacific gets quite deep in places, and if you dive hard, you could find yourself buckling and groaning under the pressure. But it is preferable to having 18 inch shells landing on your deck. The whole game is about making split-second decisions like this, and as you play you learn a lot about the loneliness of command.

The game is split into campaigns and single missions. The missions generally put you in a favourable position with a convoy of merchantmen, a group of cruisers or, if you are ambitious aircraft carriers or even the Yamato herself, the biggest battleship the world has seen (so take that, USS Iowa!). You get straight into the action, and the game takes about half an hour, depending on your tactics.

Incident at Taipei
If you choose a campaign, you get the entire Pacific to roam. You will be given an initial mission, and must chug along for days until you get to your target area. Luckily, Microprose have speeded up the uneventful bits. Campaigns allow you to be more flexible, in that where you position yourself or even whether you decide to attack is up to you. You can break off an engagement to go after some less tough prey if you choose. A map of the ocean with all ports, islands and shallow reaches is included, so you have no excuse for getting lost.

Silent Service is detailed, exciting and clever. If you have more than a passing interest in sub operations, you will get hooked. The graphics are impressive where they count. A lot of work has gone into the look of the Imperial Japanese Navy and it shows.

The systems you control are nicely handled, with clickable icons for each function as well as a keyboard overlay. It is not more complicated than, say, F19. but where Silent Service II scores highest is in the atmosphere. Playing hide and seek with a heavily-beweaponed aircraft carrier is tough, scary and very addictive. Find out if you have got the stubble for it with Silent Service II. You could surprise yourself.
James Leach

Amiga Format, Issue 28, November 1991, p.p.68-69

Silent Service II explained

The engagements supplied with Silent Service II are all based on real situations. Could you handle thngs better than the pros?

1. Whales and Duds
You are in a Gato class sub one morning in 1943 when you meet a converted whaler carrying Japanese oil supplies. It is a turkey shoot, but how do you kill her off cleanly?

2. Mush on the loose
You are Dudley “Mush” Morton in a Gato. You have just spotted three unarmed merchant ships. Do you a) sink them, b) cripple them or c) invite their crews to a game of sardines in the aft torpedo tubes?

3. Flasher’s Tankers
You command the Flasher (a real WWII Gato) when you meet two destroyers and a tanker. Which do you go for first? Or you could get really close and expose yourself. Er, to hostile fire.

4. Sink the Yamato
Your Gato has seen the mighty Yamato with a strong escort. It will take some killing, so how do you go about it? If only you could leave the area and call in a massive bombing raid…

5. Death of the Shinano
It is a night attack, so wrap up warm and take a torch. The Shinano is a large battleship, but if you get close enough you can put four torps into her hull before she can say “Amelican sub crossing in fast!”

6. Killer O’Kane
Night. But you are Killer (a man blessed with compound vision). A ten-ship convoy has been plotted on your chart. It is party time, but which are the escorts? Are you sure they are not Sierras?

7. An embarrassment of Riches
The Shokaku, a Japanese carrier, has been seen. Sure, there are destroyers around, but that flat-top is asking for a spread right up the propellers.

"If you can do all this and keep the enemy firmly in your periscope sights, you might have the makings of a Richard Wildmark"

Silent Service II
Microprose * £30.99
  • Hunting 45,000 tonners has never been such fun. The atmosphere is just right.
  • Icon-driven control and keyboard overlay means work well. It is made as simple as such a complex subject can be.
  • Slightly specialised – it is enough of a sim to leave you out in the cold.
  • Graphics and sound are good. The in-sub screens are also done well. Yes, there are sweaty men with caps and pullovers too.
  • Whatever you do in the campaigns does not ultimately change anything. It always ends suddenly on a sunny morning in August 1945. Nice one, Mr Truman, sir.
Verdict: 82%

Silent Service II logo

Unter Wasser waren wir Amigianer bisher immer im Nachteil: „Wolfpack“ ist am PC schöner, „Das Boot“ schneller, und auf dieses Game hat man uns ewig warten lassen! Aber, was lange währt...

Silent Service II Wer sich von Silent Service II ein komplett neues Spiel erwartet, liegt falsch: Hier handelt es sich eher um eine erweiterte und verbesserte Version des U-Boot Klassikers von anno vorgestern. Also nix besonderes? Schon wieder daneben, die Submarine à la Microprose markiert zweifellos den momentanen Höhepunkt des Genres!

Das fängt schon mal damit an, daß der Seemann nun zwischen neun verschiedenen U-Booten wählten kann – samt deren spezifischen Torpedos und den jeweiligen Handicaps. Gut, üben durfte man früher auch schon, die Einzelmissionen und Patrouillenfahrten gestalten sich jetzt aber deutlich komplexer. Damit nicht genug, hier kann der Unterwasser-Pilot sogar einen kompletten Krieg miterleben (der Einstieg ist zu unterschiedlichen Zeitpunkten möglich), hier muß man auch mal einen Hafen zum Tanken anlaufen und – hier kann man Karriere machen, mit Beförderungen, Orden und allem was so dazu gehört! Darüber hinaus bietet das Programm vom Schiffsjungen bis zum Seewolf für jeden den passenden Schwierigkeitsgrad, ungeduldige Klabautermänner finden einen Accelerator (Zeitraffer-Funktion) es können endlich Spielstände abgespeichert werden, und die dürftige „Tonnage-Hitliste “ ist auch passé; stattdessen gibt’s nun gleich mehrere (speicherbare) Bestenlisten.

amiga joker hit Freilich hat mittlerweile auch der Feind aufgerüstet: Neben den gewohnten Frachtern, Tankern und Zerstörern schippern vom winzigen Patrouillenboot bis zum gigantischen Super Schlachtschiff Kähne aller Formen und Größen über’s Meer! Fairerweise haben die Programmierer auch den Arbeitsplatz des Spielers tüchtig aufgemöbelt, ob Karte, Brücke oder Schadenskontrolle - alles ist funktioneller und übersichtlicher geworden. Bedient werden die schwimmenden Zigarren per Maus und Tastatur, auch diesbezüglich sind keine negativen Vorkommnisse zu vermelden. Naja, mal davon abgesehen, daß die Ladezeiten nicht unbedingt zu den kürzesten zählen...

Aber keine Bange, die Präsentation ist jede Sekunde wert: Die flotte Grafik mit den hübschen Zwischenbildern steht ihrem VGA-Bruder nicht nach, auch beim Sound (atmosphärische Musik und bärenstarke FX) könnte man glatt meinen, einen 386er mit Roland Karte vor sich zu haben. Tja, Silent Service macht einem das Meckern wirklich nicht leicht. Sicher, man könnte darüber herziehen, daß ohne ein Megabyte nichts geht und Joystickunterstützung auch kein Fehler gewesen wäre. Aber was soll’s - viel mehr als nahezu unbegrenzten Spielspaß kann man von einer Simulation ja wohl nicht verlangen, oder? (mm)

Amiga Joker, October 1991, p.71

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Wer von Silent Service II nicht begeistert ist, der mag generell keine Simulationen!"

amiga joker
Silent Service II
Grafik: 85%
Sound: 83%
Handhabung: 80%
Spielidee: 81%
Dauerspaß: 92%
Preis/Leistung: 85%

Red. Urteil: 88%
Preis: ca. 89,- DM
Hersteller: Microprose
Genre: Simulation

Spezialität: Zwei Disks, Installation auf Festplatte möglich. Neben einem 140 Seiten starken deutschen Handbuch liegen noch eine farbige Karte und eine Tastatur Schablone in der Box.