|Genres:||Strategy / Turn-Based Strategy|
|Release Date:||January, 2004|
Here’s your chance to throw the kitchen sink at the Nazis — everything from ninja stars to self-propelled anti-tank grenades. Some 75 real-world weapons from World War II are modeled in painstaking detail in Silent Storm, a tactical squad-based game that reminds one of the Jagged Alliance series. And since all’s fair in love and war, you also get to lead an Axis campaign and attack the Allies as well.
Either way, you lead a squad of up to six “special ops” troops, selecting your team from a pool of 40 mercs of 30 different nationalities — with cheesy voice accents to match — through some 24 extremely non-linear day and night missions (and an unlimited supply of random encounters). Your task in both campaigns is to uncover and stop a renegade Nazi force’s plot to win the rocket-technology arms race for itself.
Gameplay is turn-based, and played in a detailed, isometric 3D environment. Following squad-tactics conventions, each soldier has a given amount of points he/she can spend on certain actions, including crawling, scaling obstacles, changing firing poses or weapons, arming/disarming booby traps, and tossing grenades. In one turn you can have a soldier crouch, move from behind cover to get a clear shot at an enemy, and then move back behind cover. Or you can have him snap off two shots and not be able to get back to safety, gambling on leaving him exposed.
You can freely choose which missions you want to attempt, in any order you wish, as you uncover the clues that unlock them. These clues come from documents and enemy agents captured throughout the game. Unfortunately, this structure — while providing a nearly unparalleled level of playing freedom — makes it difficult to follow the story, which can become a bit disjointed if you uncover major clues before you know what’s going on. This situation isn’t helped by the rather rough Russian-to-English text and voice-over translation.
Your troops gain experience points as you play, which you can use to “level up” and raise their expertise in nine areas, such as sniping ability, medical skill, and stealth skills. You have a limited supply of the more specialized character classes (e.g., medics and engineers), so you must protect them well. These considerations make you sweat out the tough encounters.
Everything in the game is destructible, which is a hoot to say the least. Instead of making a frontal assault, you can sneak around the back and blow a hole in the wall of the building, for example. And every facet sparkles with great attention to detail: guns eject spent shells when firing, bullets knock snow and leaves from trees, and bodies contort into all manner of painful death poses. (Unfortunately, when all the visual options are cranked up, gameplay can be tediously slow even on a speedy PC.)
Silent Storm would have scored much higher if it weren’t for weird anomalies that hinder the fun factor. These include strange “line of sight” issues where you can’t see an enemy that you know is about 10 feet directly in front of you, and obscenely reduced weapon ranges — rifle bullets carry only about 50 virtual yards in the game engine. Plus, you can’t leave a mission to go back to base to refit your troops. There’s also a lack of any multiplayer.
System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, Win98
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