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Silent Hunter IV: Wolves Of The Pacific PDF Print E-mail
Written by Starfox   
Friday, 06 June 2008 10:11
Article Index
Silent Hunter IV: Wolves Of The Pacific
Going back to the roots
Arcade or full sim?
Torpedoes, the tools of the submarine warfare
Reloading... Where's the nearest gas station?
Planes and destroyers: the main threat
As a matter of conclusion
All Pages

Logo Silent Hunter: Wolves Of The Pacific



Developer/Publisher:
Ubisoft
Average price (at review time): $20.00
Official site
No demo available

ESRB Rating: Teen (mild violence)
PEGI Rating: 7+ (violence)
Remember that these ratings refer to game content vs age suitability. Honestly I seriously doubt that 8 years old could master Silent Hunter 4 even if legally they can play it in Europe. If they can master it then they should go to genius school. So don't come complain if you buy that for your 10 years old son and that he throws it back at you after a day with a very bad look.

Silent Hunter 4: Wolves Of The Pacific


When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941 our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come. It was to the Submarine force that I looked to carry the load until our great industrial activity could produce the weapons we so sorely needed to carry the war to the enemy. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz


I have kind of a weird affection for submarine simulators, possibly because the first game I ever programmed myself back in the 80s was a submarine simulator. Since then I tested a lot of those featuring modern submarines (688i Hunter Killer, Dangerous Waters, both available on Steam here and there) and some featuring the old boats from WWII. In this specific area, you can't possibly beat the Silent Hunter series. In its latest incarnation (and despite some huge bugs in the early releases) Silent Hunter 4: Wolves Of The Pacific has all what it takes to please the aficionados of submarine warfare.

Why preferring the little diesel boats to the big nuclear ones? It's all a matter of taste. There's something about WWII submarine warfare that one just can't find anymore with all the technology we have today. Because of a number of factors a WWII submarine was much more like a hunter tracking her prey, a hunter that could easily become the prey if her skipper was not cautious enough or if the enemy developed an overwhelmingly good anti-sub defense (like the Kriegsmarine learned harshly from the British Navy from late 1942 through the end of the war, loosing almost a thousand boats during this period, most of the time with all hands).

Silent Hunter 4: Wolves Of The Pacific Silent Hunter 4: Wolves Of The Pacific Silent Hunter 4: Wolves Of The Pacific

In WWII and unlike popular beliefs, ships had a pretty good chance to elude a submarine when they had the luck to spot it before the attack occurs. They only needed to break their course regularly and to augment or decrease their speed from time to time to throw off all the targeting¬† calculations that even the best submarine crew could make. Torpedoes back then were not guided but acted more like a bullet. You had to launch them so their course and the course of the targeted ship would meet at some point hoping that the target wouldn't suddenly change heading or speed before the torpedoes strike. What's more? Although submarines were sailing rather well on surface (sporting a fair 21 knots max speed) they were awfully slow underwater (8.5 to 9 Kts for American submarines, 7.5 to 8.5 Kts for German ones). The fact is that any ship was able to sail at least twice faster than a submarine underwater at max speed. Warships were even better equipped since they could go as high as 30 kts and over. And going full speed underwater was a bad idea anyway since the submarine could easily be spotted (by the enemy's hydrophones). So as a general rule, the speed during an attack run was more like 3 Kts. For all these reasons, the submariners’ task back then was a real hunt and not some video game. You didn't need the best submarine; you needed the best nerves, the best crew, the best tactics and a real taste for the sneaky side of things. When a submarine infiltrates an enemy task force to strike right in the middle... Think about an underwater version of Thief.

Unlike WWII subs where the only viable way to attack something was to look through the periscope at short range, modern subs are more like a battle fought behind computer screens, most of the time from a long range and no one ever sees the enemy. That's not to say that I don't like modern sub simulations but it's just not the same thing.

But before going further in the presentation of what Silent Hunter IV is, a word of warning must be given: you have to update SH4 to at least patch 1.4. It's not an advice, it's a requirement. The number of bugs that have been fixed between version 1.0 and version 1.4 is too huge to be listed here; it suffices to say that your experience won't be the same, both graphically and in gameplay.


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