A series of Simulation Games published by Ubisoft which place the player in command of a WWII submarine. The series has 5 entries, with the latest having been released in March 2010. SH1 and 4 take place in the Pacific Theatre, while 2, 3, 4's expansion ("U-Boat Missions") and 5 place the player in the shoes of a Kriegsmarine U-boat Kaleun (short for Kapitänleutnant, "lieutenant") during the second battle of the Atlantic.The series is primarily noted for its dynamic campaign mode: rather than using specific missions the game engine simulates ship traffic according to historical shipping lanes, convoy routes and traffic patterns. The player is given an assigned grid to patrol, but is free to head elsewhere if they feel they can find better hunting grounds on their own.
SH3 and the expansion to SH4 include the Type XXI U-boat, the first true submarine and the ancestor of every submarine built post WWII. Using it is almost a completely different experience compared to the other subs in the series, especially when all six auto-loading torpedo tubes load faster than one manually-loaded tube on earlier U-boats.
Subverted in that by the time they came around, you'll need all the advantages you can get. Historically, due to construction woes the Type XXI's were delayed to the point that only two are known to have made it to wartime patrol, neither of which had any sinkings. However, U-2511 in its only patrol reportedly evaded the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk's escort screen, got within half a kilometer and actually had a perfect shot lined up... only to dive under the Norfolk and leave undetected, having received notice of Germany's surrender a few hours before.
In Silent Hunter 4 they go out of their way to make this come alive, with such things as news reports from home and a view of the fleets that constantly move around the map.
In SH3 at least if using the right mods, you can receive radio intercepts mentioning such things as the sinking of HMS Royal Oak, the declarations of war, reported enemy sightings... and hinted at-or-confirmed U-boat losses. (Some samples are mentioned in this playthrough log, with historical footnotes.)
And all you are doing is trying to kill people, innocent little you...
Generally averted. Nothing that doesn't belong to the enemy pays much attention to you, and unarmed enemy vessels will attempt to flee if they see you. Although it can certainly feel like this at times.
it is possible to attack or be attacked by friendlies or neutrals. Best avoided though.
Can get quite frustrating in the early months of a SH3 campaign, as you'll be forced to let dozens of juicy targets loaded with what is obviously war material get away from you because they're wearing the Stars and Stripes.
Subsim has a whole boatload of them for almost every game in the series, most of which are designed provide an even more realistic play style. With full realism and improved ASW AI, Nintendo Hard doesn't begin to describe it.
At least one mod results in Silent Hunter 4's AI tactics/skill improving as the years go by, though fortunately you keep your technological upgrades.
Especially the "supermod" Grey Wolves Expansion, GWX for short, and its monster of a manual, which is affectionately referred to as "Das Buch".
Pearl Harbor or Australia in Silent Hunter 4, though you have a pick in the U-boat versions. An important event in the Atlantic Theatre installments is the fall of France, allowing the U-boats direct access to the Atlantic from the French ports.
The Scenery Porn here gives the impression of a Not-So-Safe Harbor. Sometimes literally so: collisions are always a worry, and U-boat skippers have to worry about air raids on the port.
Remember in Das Boot, that caption at the beginning saying 75% of U-boat crewmen didn't survive? SH3 makes it abundantly clear why: late-war Allied ASW is obscenely good.
This is especially true at the highest reality settings, where you are restricted to what skippers of the time had, and so you need to be constantly doing calculations and approximations to put your torpedoes on target or evade escorts. Not counting the fact that you have to deal with limited fuel (for cruising on the surface), batteries (for moving underwater), air supply (CO 2 content slowly rises over time) and compressed air (for fast diving or rising in the water), as well as long reload times and extreme vulnerability to depth charges.
On the other hand, historically submarine captains would be assisted by weapons officers, which (along with automatic/manual targeting) is an option in the games.
No Swastikas: For obvious reasons. The best example is the battleship Bismarck, where there're just two white circles in the deck with nothing inside.
Pirates: Otherwise known as commerce raiders: what you are, without you taking the loot. While you can go after warships instead, the average tonnages pale in comparison to that found by hunting cargo and merchant ships.
Well, sometimes. In Silent Hunter 4, at the very least, you can simply ram your boat into small fishing ships like sampans, instantly sinking them with no damage to you and no waste of ammunition; however, you get no credit for ships sunk in this fashion, either.
And as one Let's Player discovered in that same game, be careful at what angle you shoot down airplanes...or their crashing, flaming wreck can slam directly into you, sinking you instantly. jump to 50:49.
Unwinnable: It's impossible to actually change the tide of the war, at least in Silent Hunter 3 — no matter how many ships are sunk by your U-boat, Germany still surrenders in May of 1945... if you even survive that long.
Unwinnable Joke Game: In missions where you command a German U-boat, no matter now many vessels you sink, Germany (fortunately) will always lose the war.
Video Game Caring Potential: In Silent Hunter I you get missions to rescue shot-down pilots during air raids. To do that, you often have to get dangerously close to the enemy base where the water is too shallow to hide ... all while under time pressure as the pilot will eventually drown.