48k Disk £14.95
48k Cassette £9.95
Destroyer approaching off the starboard bow.... Clear
the bridge.... Tighten down the hatches.... Dive! Dive! Dive!
Humble apologies - I got ever so slightly carried away there. But
then it's easy to go over the top when you're playing the exciting
new submarine simulation from Microprose.
This company are well known for their computer
simulations, mostly of the flight variety, but they've ventured
underwater this time to produce what is, in my estimation, their
best game yet.
SILENT SERVICE places you in command of a U.S.
submarine patrolling the Japanese shipping routes in the South
Western Pacific during the Second World War. It faithfully
reproduces the role of a submarine captain to provide a level of
realism and playability unmatched by any other game of it's type.
Many different options are available to you at the
outset, but the best idea is to start off with a Torpedo Gun
Practice run until you get the hang of the technical aspects of the
game. After that, you're ready for a full-blooded War Patrol!
Familiarising yourself with the layout of the
submarine is the tricky part. The conning tower is the central
Battle Stations screen and, from here, you use the joystick to
access all the other screens. In effect, this lets you operate the
periscope, transfer over to the bridge when you're not underwater,
of course', consult your maps and charts for enemy sightings, read
the damage reports, view the Quartermaster's Log, and check all the
various instruments, gauges and torpedo tubes. Different commands
are entered on each individual screen and so you will require a good
working knowledge of all these screens in order to operate the
submarine smoothly and efficiently.
The first-rate graphics are perhaps the main feature
of the game. However, they're not included merely for artistic
purposes but, instead, give the simulation an added sense of
realism. Speaking of realism - just wait till you're sitting there
100 feet below the surface, hardly daring to breathe, listening to
the sound of a destroyer's engines overhead and waiting in mortal
fear for it to drop those nightmare depth-charges! When the hair on
the back of your neck stands on end and the sweat begins to trickle
down your forehead ('Bosun - fetch my brown trousers please!') - now
Tactics are an essential part of SILENT SERVICE and
you must plot your route to the convoy with great care (the time
scale can be speeded up to reduce the boredom) as some of those Jap
destroyers are a dab hand at running a sub to ground. You can take a
chance (particularly at night) and attack the convoy on the surface,
using the infra-red binoculars to line up your targets, or you can
attack from the relative safety of periscope depth. Either way, it
makes little difference as the first torpedo explosion will alert
the destroyer to your presence, and it then becomes a cat and mouse
game as you try to run to safety. As well as torpedoes you have a
4-inch deck gun, but using that against a destroyer is the worst
case of suicide I've ever encountered! It's best used on the troop
carriers and cargo ships.
At the end of your mission you are accorded a rank
based on your skills (or lack of them!) as a submarine captain. Who
knows, you may even get your name on the high score table if you're
lucky enough - and good enough!
SILENT SERVICE has a multitude of options and
features which I can't begin to go into here or we'd be at it for a
fortnight. The old Thorn-Emi game - 'Submarine Commander'- has just
been re-issued as a budget cassette release, but it is no match for
this superb package from Microprose. The difference between the two
is night and day. If you're looking for a simulation of this type,
do yourself a favour and save up the extra cash to buy SILENT
SERVICE. You won't regret it.