The year is 1943 and the war rages on. A disaster is about to happen and, guess what, youíre the only one who can stop it. So get your coffee ready, stick your eyes on the monitor and letís proceed.
Many of you probably remember Jagged Alliance. For those who donít, your loss, youíve missed one hell of a game. Well, Silent Storm is JAís big brother and, as youíd expect, is here to take its place and claim the crown of RTT, which it fully deserves, being a wonderful mix of action, RPG and strategy.
Iíll start by congratulating the Nival Interactive team for SS, the game who brought me back the Fallout atmosphere and turned me into a night zombie with red eyes and shaky hands.
After an interesting intro movie, the first thing we get to do in the game is creating a profile and selecting the side for which weíll play the campaign: Axis or Allies. Weíll have to create the main character, choosing his name, surname and nickname (hmÖ Bunny sounds pretty well and being able to customize even his smallest detail: body, eyes, nose, lips, skin color, even the scars on his face. When asked about his profession, weíll get 6 choices (just like in most of the games, I wonder why scout, soldier, sniper, medic, engineer or grenadier.
To help you skip consulting the manual, here is a brief description of them: the scout is the fast, intelligent, stealth soldier, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, pistols or melee fights. The soldier is the Rambo-type character, making wonders with the sub-machine and machine guns and stopping only to re-supply with ammo (Hollywood style unlimited ammo would be nice On to the sniper, the guy whoíll only greet you with a bullet, excelling with scoped, but also unscoped weapons. We also have the medic, who can also shoot a gun when heís getting bored of bandaging, treating and plastic surgery. The engineer deals with mining, mine clearing (if youíre lucky enough not to blow yourself up) and lock-picking, thus providing you access to some new objects and places. The grenadier is pretty forward, fill his backpack with grenades, C4 and other tasty things and send him to give your enemies a taste of them.
You have set up your character, so itís time to face the campaigns. As Iíve already said, you have to choose from only 2 of them, but very long and full of surprises. You can recruit up to 5 more teammates from your HQ, getting again to that 6 fatidic number. Youíll wish to get a balanced team because some of the missions will be difficult, or even impossible to complete without this. So no excess of soldiers or snipers, or Iíll see from where you pull out the blood donor card when you reach a mine field. According to the missions you completed, youíll get to choose some new ones, thus reassuring us the campaigns can be played any times we want.
Letís proceed to the excellent engine powering the game, unscripted and based on ďrag-doll physicsĒ, meaning that an enemy killed on the upper floor might count the stairs to the ground floor or check the gravity and impact effects on the crates accidentally placed behind him. Or, if you find yourself in a dark, cold corridor, filled with rats and enemies ready to burst in upon you and with no place to hide, you can perhaps equip a machine gun and drill a hole into the wall to crawl in the room near to you or, with a well placed grenade, make the wall suffer small structure modifications and cover you with dust, the thick cloud formed allowing you to sneak in there. Simple and efficient. Try to shoot an enemy located beneath you. Youíll most likely make a hole in the floor and your enemy will be as good as dead, unless heís Neo and can dodge the bullets. Also try not to shoot objects that can explode, because you can tear into parts trucks, cars and even oxygen tubes. It happened to me once, when trying to hit a wooden door, to accidentally hit an oxygen tube and notice that, after the smoke disappeared, a nice slice of the floor also vanished into the air, fortunately the stairs remained intact and I could keep advancing in the level.
I got caught in technical details and havenít told you what your teammates can do. Besides shooting from different positions (running, standing, crouched or proned), they can shoot single, quick rounds, but with small chances of hitting the target, they can shoot more carefully, at the price of more action points, but hitting their target more often. You can use short or long bursts, according to the number of bullets you are wiling to spend on your enemies. The sniper has an extra choice of aiming at their target for a longer time, with bigger chances of hitting. You can shoot your enemies in head, arms or legs, causing them severe wounds which will usually make them bleed or take them out of the battle. You can also interrupt your enemies from their actions, according to your and their skills and if you still have available action points, so itís important not to use all your APs, because sometimes you can get lucky.
Be careful though, usually your opponents wonít die from a single hit, not even a headshot, only a burst from near them offering you a chance to kill them. According to the position or situation in which he died, heíll fall over boxes, dead enemies or various other scenarios, your team members being able to take their weapons and ammunition, some of them unique. Still, most of the weapons will be supplied from your HQís armory.
The action is completed by well chosen sounds, which will give you the sensation that the bullets bite from the walls, grenades explode at your legs, rockets howl over your head, leaving you no chance. The tension is huge and the sound only adds to the thrill and makes your heart pound faster when enemiesí turn comes. Still, the Nival guys have a minus for the comments of your teammates and enemies, with bad chosen voices sounding definitely not well. Lucky for us, the music is really good.
As you advance in the campaign, youíll receive the Panzerkleins, some sort of robots from the Second World War with a huge attached weapon. The disadvantage is that they can do no specific action (bandaging, grenades etc.) Try to acquire these monstrosities, because to attempt to fight them with conventional weapons will have small chances of succeeding.
Overall, SS is a nice, catchy game, with high replay value, with bad things and good things, but which will not disappoint. I, for one, liked it. An advice as from one combatant to another: make sure you are not taken by surprise, there are a lot of them in the game and the enemies wonít stop harassing you until they are dead.
Graphics: 85. Not mind-blowing, but doing their job well. Nice character modeling, dynamic lights and shadows, bump mapping and everything else you want, but donít expect this to be UT2004.
Gameplay: 80. Well done campaigns, long, but not boring, creating addiction. Too bad it has no multiplayer, a cooperative mode would have been great.
Music: 83. Good music, even better effects, Dolby 5.1 support, but ear-scratching voices.
Resources, compatibility: 92. Although some patches have appeared, the problems they solve are mostly game balancing issues. I havenít really met any problems, so thereís nothing to complain. As for resources, itís true that at full details it is quite a hungry game, but on my mid-range system I could play it perfectly on 800*600 with maximum details.
Final score: 82.