Silent Hunter takes place in the times of the second world war in the Pacific. As the commander of an American submarine, it is your task to send as much enemy tonnage as possible to the bottom of the ocean.
The better you achieve your task, the more decorations you will receive. You will also get access to better submarines, more and better torpedos, a ship radar and an aircraft radar will be available in time. The radar ist really very helpful to locate convois beyond visible distance or to avoid convois which have strong protection. Which really sometimes makes more sense than sinking without having done much damage.
Once you encouter the enemy on the open sea, the cat and mouse game begins. Sneak through the armada of destroyers which are acting as escort to the convoy or an aircraft carrier squad. The boys on board know their job and make your life as submarine commander hard with their depth charges. Especially attacking carriers, aircrafts will also aggressively go at you.
That is why you should first seek out the smaller convois, because they are usually only escorted by two destroyers. That makes it easier to send a freighter or a factory vessel to the fishes.
There is also the option of sneaking into a harbour in the protection of the night. Harbours are protected by three destroyers at most. Once you've eliminated them, it is rather easy to also sink the really big ones. Sometimes, this is almost too easy. The sunk destroyers are never replaced by new ones. The crews of the anchored ships are apparently not woken up by the explosions, so you can simply torpedo everything in port. Not my cup of team, but it helps tremendously with the tonnage count in order to rise in the ranking of best captains. During the day, entering a harbour is not recommandable, because in addition to the destroyers, there will also be aircrafts which don't appreciate submarines stalking their port.
On the side, you will receive special missions from high command, like reconnaissance of industry complexes using cameras or rescuing an American pilot shot down by Japanese planes, now floating in the Pacific Ocean. This may sound easier than it really is inside the game. Primarily, because these missions have a specific deadline. If on the way you encounter a convoy, this could cause quite a delay and puts the schedule at risk.
The graphics are barely appropriate for the time (VGA). The ocean is a huge and boring place. If this is what SSI's developers wanted to get across, they managed very well. Nevertheless, I think the atmosphere once the submarine has dived and many destroyers are circling above is really very thrilling. It really becomes tangible how awful the real submarine's crews must have felt when all those sounds of the propellers and those pings could be heard loudly through the boat. And they had only one thing in mind: destroying the submaring with depth charges. It is well imaginable why some of the crew members couldn't stand the pressure.
On the whole, this is a good and solidly made game which has kept me at the PC for hours sometimes.
Since it is a war game, there is of course the question of the meaning of such a game. It is not a secret that with every ship you sink, you kill people (even if they are only virtual). Though I think as a kid (yes, I'm already a little older), I have also played cowboys and indians, where settlers are killing indians and the other way around. This didn't turn me into a mass murderer running amok (you will have to trust me on this one ). It is just a game and you should understand it as such.
Translated by Mr Creosote