Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic is the newest entry in the acclaimed submarine simulation series, and debuts an ambitious feature: you command your sub from the captain’s first-person view.
Players command a German Type VII U-boat and combat Allied forces across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea in a campaign spanning 1939–1943. The game does away with issuing orders by pressing buttons. Instead, players walk around nearly every part of the boat to issue orders directly to crew members. You can chat with the crew about everyday topics to raise morale and boost their abilities with promotion points.
Indeed, Silent Hunter 5 does many things right. As with the other games in the series, hunting enemy ships is fun and exciting. You won’t find enemy vessels littering the ocean; you must hunt for them based on intelligence, and where your target is most likely to be. Combat is also great. You can stealthily take on enemy vessels with your deck gun or torpedoes, then dive when their destroyers show up. The ability to command the ship from within and directly interact with the crew adds to the realism, especially when they become nervous during an attack.
But this game has some serious issues. For example, sprinting around the ship to issue orders, particularly in a hectic combat situation, gets tiresome. Where are the voice tubes of real U-boats?
Another negative is the game’s digital rights management copy protection, which is meant to curtail game pirating. Players must remain online while playing to ensure they are using a legal copy, so those without trusty, high speed Internet connections are not advised to pick up this game. If the game’s servers go down, it will be unplayable. Also, you will not be able to resell the game once it’s installed on a PC.
Unfortunately, as a whole Silent Hunter 5 feels hastily slapped together. The first-person game play is an intriguing and welcome feature, but it isn’t developed enough. The game also gobbles up a great deal of disk space, and even a souped-up PC will struggle with frame-rate issues. As it stands now the game has too many bugs for me to recommend buying, but it may just chart a course for other game makers to build off its ambitious goals and fix its weaknesses.
World War II rating: 2.5 stars
Released March 2010
Rated: ‘T’ for Teen
Genre: WWII–era Submarine Simulation
Developer: Ubisoft Romania
Modes: Single player, four-person versus/co-op multiplayer