Silent Service (Microprose) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


Silent Service
By Microprose
Commodore 64

Published in Computer & Video Games #57

Silent Service

From Sid Meier, creator of F-15 Strike Eagle, comes a tactical game of US submarines seeking out Japanese shipping in the Pacific in World War Two. This is, in effect, an underwater flight simulator, and it is not an easy game to play. The player becomes a one-man submarine crew, and switching between engine gauges, maps, periscope and bridge takes a little practice. Thoughtfully, the program provides this, allowing you to graduate from mock combats against hulks off Midway Island, through set piece tactical situations to your first combat patrol.

On patrol the simulation is quite incredibly realistic. Commanding an attack submarine requires patience, stealth, good anticipation, and a knowledge of when to run away. Submerged, your submarine is no faster than the convoys which are its prey, and soon drains its batteries. But on the surface in daylight it is very easy to spot. Any attack brings the escort destroyers down on your position, and you must evade them to survive. A patrol takes about two playing hours with three or four separate engagements. From your first patrol, you will be lucky to return at all.

The heart of the simulation is a plotting map, representing the sub's radar, sonar and lookout reports. This enables the player to "zoom" in and out from smaller to larger scales and so plan his attack as he goes. Once close to the target, a periscope screen provides identification and location of targets. Fire your torpedoes, then don't stop to watch them hit but dive and turn away. You will hear the explosions if you're lucky, along with the Asdic of the approaching destroyers and the crunch of their depth charges. All that is missing is the smell.

An excellent wargame for those who place realism and tactics above thrills and firepower. The booklet also provides a good summary of the history and technical details of the campaign.