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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: February 6, 2004
Remember the Macarena? How about wearing a single sequined glove? Or “What ‘cho talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” The gritty settings of World War II in video games have gone the direction of Tickle Me Elmo and Vanilla Ice, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Yet more titles continue to hit the market with Nazis in their sights. There’s a lot of carping about this, but every once and a while somebody brings out a hands down winner like Call of Duty that makes you forget you ever had a problem with the time period. Pulling out the tried and true backdrop of the Second World War, Nival Interactive brings us Silent Storm. Read on to see if it’s one for the history books or something that should have been buried on the battlefield.
Silent Storm has 24 day and night missions that you can play as either the Axis or the Allies at the turning point of the War to End All Wars. You are a highly trained specialist tasked with the job of sneaking behind enemy lines and collecting information critical to your military’s success. You must put together and lead a team of commandos all over Europe, piecing together clues that will give your government the lead in the race to further your rocket technology. Be silent, be swift, but above all, be deadly.
Silent Storm is a turn-based strategy game mixed with a dash of role-playing for flavor. You begin by choosing a side of the conflict and either design a custom character or choose from one of six preconfigured warriors. Creating your own character involves selecting a gender, nationality, profession, and distributing attribute points between strength, dexterity, and intelligence. When the inner workings of your soldier are defined, you have the opportunity to choose a face, tweak it, and then select from one of three voices. Once these preliminary steps are completed, you are thrown directly into the heat of battle to complete a solo mission.
After your first mission is complete, you are summoned to headquarters and given an assignment to gather information behind enemy lines. At headquarters you rearm out of the game’s pool of 75 weapons, heal your injuries, and recruit up to five other specialists out of a collection of 20 to help complete your assignment. Silent Storm has six specialties: Scout, Sniper, Engineer, Grenadier, Medic, and Soldier. Each of these professionals uses the various weapons and gadgetry more or less efficiently depending upon their specialty. For instance, the Grenadier has a high degree of strength so he can toss a grenade farther than others on the team, plus he’s proficient with heavy weapons; the Scout excels at stealth and camouflage making him perfect for close up encounters and covert operations; and the Medic is equally comfortable behind the sights of a machine gun or rifle, and can heal even the most serious wounds a soldier might sustain on the battlefield.
From headquarters you set out to the world map to pick your first engagement. There are a limited number of story-propelling missions at first, but as you gather more intelligence a greater number open up. You can tackle missions in any order or engage the enemy in an unlimited number of random challenges that pop up as you move across the map. Aside from the World War II setting, Silent Storm‘s battle sequences are remarkably similar to Jagged Alliance 2. To keep up the tempo of the experience, characters move in real-time until an enemy comes into view, or a shot from either side is fired. When one of these conditions is met, Silent Storm switches the gameplay to turn-based. Each character in the conflict is allocated Action Points (APs) that are used to move and fire weapons. Commandos can move in a run, walk, crouch, or by edging forward on their bellies, and can fire off a snapshot, careful shot, or aimed shot with rifles as well as short and long bursts with machine guns. An addition to these firing modes is the ability to use scoped rifles to snipe at your enemy. This is done by allocating APs to aiming and the aiming process can be passed from turn to turn for a more accurate shot. The more APs given over to taking careful aim, the higher the likelihood you will find your target and that the shot will be lethal. Once you expend all of your APs, you pass the turn to the other side and watch their maneuverings.
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