Silent Hunter III01 May 2005 0
Fighting the War from a Sardine Can
Every time I read the figures and stories of the Battle of the Atlantic I can’t help but have a double take. Of the 40,000 U-Boat men who put to sea, 30,000 never came back, and the same number of merchant navy men went to the bottom. The men on both sides pushed themselves the extremes of human physical and psychological endurance and never gave up. It was a battle eventually won by the Allies, but only just. It was a battle of technological guile, human cunning, steel nerves, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, it was a battle the participants of which elicit huge respect from me.
The opportunity then to try Silent Hunter III I simply couldn’t turn up; a chance to experience the Battle of the Atlantic, to taste the salt water and test my cunning in a rather moist game of cat and mouse. As well as that, of course, I had to check and see if the disaster that was Silent Hunter II had finally been torpedoed out of the water and replaced with something a tad less dry (…alright Aaron, you’ve had enough of the aqua puns -Ed)
Rather obviously, Silent Hunter III concerns itself with U-Boat warfare, pitting players in their sardine cans to patrol the Atlantic and sink whatever may pass their way. The game is an extremely comprehensive simulation of naval warfare, allowing players to experience the full gamut of realism options, or to limit them as experience and comfort may dictate.
A CD-Key Worthy of Enigma
Before I go any further, allow me to warn all ye who would play this game that it comes with Starforce (at least the US version; a colleague of mine with the UK version seems to think it runs a different copy protection system for native copies on this side of the pond.) Anyone who doesn’t know what Starforce is should probably take a peek inside our forums or search for it on the web; basically it’s a form of copy protection which installs hidden drivers onto players’ systems and can, depending on what’s installed, potentially make the use of certain programs and utilities (as well as the entire operating system at times) unusable. While many users don’t report any problems those who do report unpleasant experiences indeed, and whilst I could go on at length about this sort of copy protection, I’ll keep it to the Silent Hunter III Starforce experience, and I’m afraid it’s not good news…
In this case the driver itself caused no harm to my current system (it’s fairly fresh anyways, so I wouldn’t expect it to), though the biggest problem came in the form of entering the CD-Key, which is run through Starforce. I entered the CD-Key listed on the sticker inside the DVD box and it came up invalid… I checked it, tried again, still invalid. Six attempts later and Aaron was not a happy bunny. However, as is the case with most problems of this nature all I had to do was pop on over to the official forums and lo and behold, a thousand and one other people had the same problem.
Apparently the last two sequences on the second line of the CD-Key shouldn’t be entered. Ahem. I mean, who in God’s creation wouldn’t have figured that out on their own? *sigh* So, take note kids, when entering the CD key take a look on the official forums first to avoid frustration, and then get down on your knees, pick a deity, and begin to pray Starforce doesn’t take issue with any of the components on your machine.
The Code Book
The manual included with Silent Hunter III is extremely well put together, and explains all the elements of the game fairly well. Also included with the DVD box was a full colour foldout map of the Atlantic, complete with German Navy grid references, and also a very handy full colour key map to stick somewhere convenient which came in extremely handy when poor Aaron had a British destroyer bearing down on him with ye olde “Ram the little bastard” trick and I had forgotten the shortcut key for a crash dive (“C” in case anyone was wondering).
Also on hand are some very good video tutorials which can be accessed in training and run through a separate media player. These, combined with the trial runs available for training missions provide one with a solid grounding in all aspects of U-Boat management, and the really good thing about training in Silent Hunter III is that when one successfully passes the training exams (which are optional), there is a prestige bonus given in the career mode.