Silent Storm (2003, by Nival), known commonly as S2, is a turn-based tactical simulator set during the Second World War. The game is played in a 3D environment, and was one of the first Tactical Turn-Based games to feature fully-rotatable 3D graphics. This sort of design allowed for a fully-destructible environment, and this was used to great effect with a large variety of explosives.The story puts the player in the shoes of a crack commando operative working for either the Allies or the Axis. Put in charge of Special Operations-SE2 or Abwehr Section 2 respectively, you must assemble a small squad of the best operatives available to your faction. Together, you work to counter the enemy's intelligence efforts and uncover the double-agents supplying information to them. However, you quickly discover that a third party is behind everything, and that they have infiltrated both the Allies and the Axis. As the plot evolves, you discover that this "third party" is in fact an international terrorist organization called the Thor's Hammer Organization (THO), who are working to develop a super-weapon that would allow them to rule the world after the Allies and Axis have beaten each other to a bloody pulp.As with many other games of the genre, your commandos gain levels in various skills, and each has his own specialty and abilities which can be capitalized upon. There are 6 classes available, the Sniper, the Soldier, the Grenadier, the Engineer, the Medic and the Scout. The game features a slew of different WWII weapons, all realistically modeled and are spectacular to fire within the 3D environment. The combination of 3D gameplay with an engrossing character-development system and reasonable plot were enough to ensure excellent reviews. In fact, due partly to the commonly low-quality of Turn-Based Tactics games created in the 2000's, Silent Storm is perhaps that genre's only real commercial success in that period.It received a expansion pack called Silent Storm: Sentinels (or S3), which picked up the storyline a year after the end of the war. Thor's Hammer has been beaten back, and with the end of the war, the various organizations involved in fighting a war suffered from staff cutbacks. Some became criminals, taking what they wanted with surplus weaponry and their honed combat skills. Others banded together, creating an agency called the Sentinels, consisting of elite operatives from both the former Allied and Axis powers. Someone appears to be interested in the military legacy of the Third Reich, attempting to obtain blueprints and examples of prototype weaponry. That's where you come in; a veteran of the war, the Sentinels are interested in recruiting you to find out what is really going on. You wake up in the basement of a house in Poland...Retaining many of the gameplay elements from S2, it also adds several new mechanics, in addition to tweaks to several existing ones. Weapons now have a durability stat, and may jam or misfire if it gets low enough. As the Sentinels are not a government-funded organization, its agents have to pay money for their equipment and to hire additional operatives, rather than being issued or assigned to them for free.An officially sanctioned mod was released commercially as Hammer & Sickle. Set in the same universe as S2 and S3, it takes place in 1949 during the Cold War. Put in the shoes of an undercover Soviet agent in the British-American sector of occupied Germany, the player must unveil a tangled web of intrigue and conspiracy, as well as thwart the machinations of an old enemy. They must tread carefully, however, for their actions may spark World War III...Marketed as a Tactical RPG, it completely reworks the game mechanics. Battles are now far more lethal, a weight limit has been implemented and clothing is no longer just cosmetic, to name a few.
This series contains examples of:
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Late in S3, the Sentinels' home base comes under full-scale assault by THO forces. The Sentinels have the advantage of heavy weapon emplacements and trenches, but they will lose without your help.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your team can only have up to six characters (the PC and five hirelings). Some missions also give you control of a guest character, who will be placed in an extra seventh slot if your team is already full.
Panzerkleins are near impervious to almost any form of weaponry in S2 (including rocket launchers), though this is toned down in S3.
Body armor in S3 helps a lot against incoming fire, sometimes stopping it completely if its penetration is low enough. However, they only protect certain parts of the body.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Subverted for the officers, who have more vitality points than the regular troops but are usually armed with pistols instead of heavier weaponry, so they are less accurate and inflict less damage.
BFG: The heavy weapons category, including machine guns and rocket launchers.
Blast Out: One of the main story missions in the Allied campaign is one of these - you're investigating a group of friendly soldiers who are suspected of being Nazi agents, and they all suspect ''you'' of being Nazi agents. You're all standing together in a cramped room, and everyone is armed, and one thing leads to another and suddenly everyone is shooting everyone from two feet away.
Booby Trap: Quite a few chests and doors have a nasty surprise in store for someone who tries to open them. They can be disarmed by an Engineer, who can also plant some of their own. Be careful when disarming, though, as they can blow up in your Engineer's face if they do badly enough.
Boom, Headshot: Present in all the games. A hard to hit target, but it causes more damage than shooting the torso, and can inflict some of the nastiest crits in the game. Taken Up to Eleven in S3, as headshot kills remove the head.
Bullethole Door: Most firearms can blast their way through a wooden door with ease, though metal doors require explosives to break through them. This method of entry can be required in some cases, especially if explosives have blown a crucial part of the scenery away (see Everything Breaks). It's also useful if your engineer isn't skilled enough to pick the lock.
Choice of Two Weapons: Each team member has two slots which can be filled by absolutely any item (weapon, explosive, or tool), which are the two items that are ready to be used. Switching between them is a free action, but changing one of the items during a fight requires to spend action points.
Failing badly enough while defusing a booby trap causes it to explode.
Failing badly enough at tossing a grenadenote a regular failure just causes the grenade to land off target causes it land right in front of its thrower (more Hilarity Ensues if the whole group was standing around).
Critical Hit: These can range from causing the character to bleed, go blind and/or deaf, all the way up to instant death. Some of the classes have perks that affect these, whether inflicted on or by the enemy. The Sniper has a very popular perk that always causes critical hits with all shots from any ranged weapon, up to and including machine guns fired on long burst.
Everything Breaks: Some explosives can take out a large chunk of the environment (floors, walls, roofs), making some areas of the map completely unreachable (the squad is unable to climb straight into a doorway from a hole in the floor). This can sometimes be solved, however, by using even more explosives to create other holes that can be used to navigate between your holes, turning the building into a multi-floor maze.
In at least one mission, it's quite possible to kill your entire team on the first turn by accidentally blowing out the floor underneath you, sending the entire squad falling to their deaths. You can, of course, also do this to the enemy on occasion.
Exploding Barrels: Explosive barrels appear from time to time. They explose when hit by a bullet, but the blast radius isn't very large. Also, they are usually encountered in areas where they make sense (storage areas, factories, next to an engine-generator, etc).
Foreshadowing: In a mission, one of the clues is a Russian police report stating that some local citizens spotted in the nearby forest what they described as iron animals (the report emphasizes that they don't drink). Said clue is one of those which unlocks the "Unknown Complex" mission. Depending on the order of which you do the missions, is can be the first area where you have to fight Panzerkleins.
Game-Breaking Bug: In some versions (including the Steam one), S2 last mission suffers from a bug which prevents the Final Boss to appear. Fortunately, there is an unofficial patch to fix this issue.
Game Mod: Some can be found here (S2) and here (S3). They actually serve as gameplay modifiers that can be manually enabled and disabled. Among the various available mods:
No Panzerklein Modification: Very popular mod. It removes the Panzerkleins and the energy weapons, replacing the Panzerkleins by regular mooks wielding heavy weapons. It upsets the game's intented difficulty and makes the plot a little nonsensical, though.
Class Skill Changes: Party members and AI units skills overhaul.
DieHard: The game is harder and the AI uses grenades more often.
Genre Shift: S2 starts out as a fairly realistic Spy Fiction set during World War II where you command a squad of Allied or Axis commandos and tasked with finding traitors and following clues. Then Panzerkleins are introduced, followed by energy weapons and a shadowy organization straight out of James Bond that seeks to get both sides of the war to obliterate each other, so that they can pick up the pieces. The change was so jarring, a mod was created shortly after release to remove Panzerkleins from the game (although that makes the plot a little nonsensical).
S3 takes place a few years after the war, with the game going back to its Spy Fiction roots, and the titular organization (made up of some of the commandos from both sides) trying to stop the formerly-defeated organization from going back to its old tricks. Then (sigh) the Panzerkleins are re-introduced (apparently, everyone forgot about them, and none were left in the Sentinels' stocks), and (with The Reveal that the Sentinels' commander is the head of the villainous organization) it goes right back into James Bond territory with Panzerkleins and energy weapons.
Hammer & Sickle, surprisingly, averts this, as the developers have finally listened to the players and did their best to stick to the Spy Fiction genre. This time, since the events take place during the Cold War, the fiction is of this flavor. The Player Character is a Soviet soldier sent across the Iron Curtain to form a spy network and subvert the Allies without starting World War III (an actual possibility)... Then the Sentinels and the organization (that just won't die) show up... but without their high-tech toys.
Hit Points: Called Vitality Points, merely dropping it to zero is a Non-Lethal K.O. (for your characters); drop it far enough into the minus (usually by tossing a grenade at someone already out-cold) and the target will die permanently.
Healing Potion: Averted. Regardless of whether you're in combat or not, VPs are restored over time and it immobilizes both the healer and the patient until it's done. More specifically, the healer can't do anything else while the patient can turn and shoot normally, but cannot move or change stances.
Heroic RROD: There are several power-up items (using them requires a minimum level in the medical skill) which greatly increase the vitality points amount for a number of turns, but make the affected character faint when the effect ends.
Hollywood Silencer: There are several silenced weapons available (there are even silenced sniper rifles which, in the hands of a Sniper with the "Always Inflict Ranged Critical" perk, are downright deadly). Shooting these while hidden won't automatically reveal your location, though you may still get spotted if an enemy is looking your way. On the other hand, they deal less damage than their regular counterparts and tend to be rather rare.
The best way to use the silenced rifle (which can only be obtained in one mission) is to hide your sniper and use a hidden scout as a spotter. Even if the enemy is looking your way, they won't spot the shooter, as the shooter is outside their sight range.
Interface Spoiler: If you look at the skill trees of your soldiers, you'll see skills like: Enhanced Panzerklein Familiarity. This may lead you to wonder, "What the heck is a Panzerklein?"
Just a Stupid Accent: Most of the characters. Depending on which translated version of the game, it is averted for characters speaking the same language that the dubbed game.
Katanas Are Just Better: The Katana is the best (and rarest) melee weapon in S2 and S3. Justified, as the other melee weapons primarily consist of knives.
Kick the Dog: One of the missions in S3 has you visit a Soviet gulag to gather intel. Incidentally, the prisoners rebel against the guards and take up arms. You're allied with the guards. This is anywhere from distasteful to pointlessly cruel.
Knife Nut: There are a large array of edged weapons available (mêlée and throwable), and mêlée-related skills for your party members, the most mêlée oriented party members being the scouts and the medics.
Level Grinding: Primarily in S3, and mostly for money rather than improving your characters. You can redo the "random" encounters over and over again to get the enemy's gear, either for actual use or for their monetary value (since sufficient money is relatively hard to come by). In the process, your squad will gain some skill and XP, but there are Anti-Grinding mechanisms in place to make sure you can't advance much beyond the optimal level for the next main-story mission.
Load-Bearing Boss: In S2, Orlov in the "Unknown Complex" mission. The mission's objectives requires to capture the enemy officer in charge of the place, along with other clues scattered in the complex. When shot by your team, you heard from a radio he is carrying that his underlings (you are trying to join him, in vain) are about to trigger the complex's autodestruction.
Mêlée à Trois: In S2, there are missions involving both Axis and Allied troops fighting against each other and THO soldiers, who are hostile to both.
More Dakka: Plenty of it. The various submachine guns and machine guns can quickly pump out a lot of bullets, especially if fired on Long Burst, which only ends if the target dies (this one actually requires to benefit from a specific skill), the gun runs out of bullets or the shooter runs out of AP.
Nice Hat: The game has a large array of various countries' headgear, with helmets, berets, and caps.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Played with. S2 allows you to play as the Axis and the H&S player character is a Soviet spy. However, S2 remains largely the same regardless of which side you pick, as you wind up primarily battling Thor's Hammer. None of the games allow you to play as THO, the real bad guys in the Silent Storm universe.
No Swastikas: In S2, there are various places (including character's creation if you play the Axis campaign) in which the gaes include a German flag. It isn't the real swastika flag from Nazi Germany but something like this◊.
Nuke 'em: If you don't play your cards right in H&S, World War III starts, and the final cutscene mentions that it only ends with the Americans nuking several major Soviet cities, including Kiev and St. Petersburg. Moscow is only spared because a Soviet pilot performs a Heroic Sacrifice and rams the plane carrying the A-bomb.
Numbered Sequel: Played with in a way. The first game is called S2, and there is no S1. The main reason for this is because an abbreviated form of the game's title, Silent Storm, would be "SS". Subsequently, the expansion's title, which contained three words beginning with S, was abbreviated as S3 to preserve the same scheme, despite being neither a sequel nor the third game produced in the series.
One Bullet Clips: While the bullets in each clip and magazine are tracked, reloading only takes as many bullets as the gun needs from them and only from one clip until it's exhausted, at which point the following reloads use the next clip until that one is exhausted too, etc..
This also means that weapons chambered for the same caliber have fully interchangeable magazines: every weapon accepts every magazine holding the proper ammo, regardless if it's a rifle clip, submachine gun box magazine or machine gun drum magazine. However, their maximum ammo capacity is still determined by their original clip, not the one actually loaded into the weapon; the frequency of reloads isn't changed, you merely save inventory space by packing a drum magazine you can reload from several times instead of multiple clips you can use once.
One-Hit Polykill: The realistic damage and penetration modelling means it is entirely possible to kill multiple mooks with a single high-caliber bullet. The only real difficulty is getting them to line up so you can pull it off. Depending on how powerful the bullet is, you can even do this through walls.
Pinball Projectile: While it's almost impossible to plan, bullets will sometimes ricochet off hard surfaces and may even hit a target (not always the one aimed at).
Powered Armor: Panzerkleins appear late in the game, which are nearly completely immune to small arms fire. The only way to beat them are with your own Panzerkleins or with Energy Weapons, which cut right through armor.
In S3, they're less resistant to small arms, especially at close range, but Energy Weapons have a much lower penetration stat than before.
Random Encounter: While moving your team around on the world map (between the main missions), "encounter warning" areas often pop up randomly in your vicinity and disappear a short while later. You can actually CHOOSE to have an encounter by moving your squad to that area. Some encounters can net you some great equipment (and can be farmed for money in S3). Sometimes (by fluke), an encounter zone will appear right underneath your squad as it moves, causing the encounter to trigger immediately like a classic Random Encounter.
Some of these encounters are incredibly rare, and tend to have equipment that cannot be obtained any other way. S3takes this further, with one that allows you to get a free squad member.
Rare Guns: Both the FG42 and the STG44 (mistakenly called the STG-43 in-game). Both become more readily available in the post-war S3.
Revolvers Are Just Better: Zig-Zagged. The two revolvers of the game are the Nagant 1910 and the Webley Scott, respectively the crappiest pistol and a very powerful one (the Webley inflicts more damages than most of the rifles). Being pistols, they still lack of accuracy and range.
Save Scumming: Doing this can allow to succeed some especially tricky shots (like shooting someone far from you with a pistol or a submachine gun) or influence the damages inflicted by a successful shot. Or if the enemy AI managed to hit you (and how badly) during its own turn. This can be exploited, as the game allows you to save and reload during the AI turn.
Scenery Gorn: You create this. German towns and British villages are initially fine, but the scenery is destructible and even bullets can take some wall chunks. Then you can also use explosives.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: S3 compared to S2. You start with the crappy Magant 1910 no matter which class you choose and almost no ammos (S2 first mission was a cakewalk, especially with a sniper) then must scrounge whatever you find for the next couple of missions. you unlock the shops after another mission and can hire other party members even later (in S2 both features were enabled immediately after the first mission). You must pay to hire new party members and acquire other gears (S2 companions were totally free, its "shop" was a mere quartermaster who let you take anything you wanted until his - quite large and respawnable between missions - stock of items run out). And the game also added Breakable Weapons in the mix.
Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Averted. Weapon ranges are quite realistic - even submachine guns can shoot across the smaller maps, and that's not getting into rifles. Good luck hitting anything at that distance, though (e.g. a submachine gun's accuracy rapidly drops to 2% beyond a short distance away).
Shouting Shooter: Every character becomes this if ordered to fire a machine gun from the hip on full auto.
Stat Grinding: Each stat and attribute gains some points at each use (which also gains global experience to the character), then is increased at specific caps. The skills that can be chosen at each level-up include some which increase their growth rate.
This game has gasoline-powered armored exoskeletons with laser weapons (mostly developed in Switzerland, but Germany is shown producing them as well). The Final Boss in S2 takes the aforementioned exoskeleton and adds a jetpack, making it a partially literal example.
Shout-Out: During one extremely rare Random Encounter in Switzerland, the team finds a crater with a UFO in it. In the vicinity, the Prototype 8M1 laser rifle can be found, the only fully-automatic energy weapon in the game. The rifle looks exactly like the Laser Rifle from X-COM: Enemy Unknown.
This has given some fans an idea for an X-Com mod for S2.
It could also be a Shout-Out to Fallout, where a similar random encounter also occurs.
In S2 "German Manor", you must capture a man and find several clues in his manor. When half of his guard are dead, he'll attempt to retreat toward a rocket in his backyard. If he reaches it (after a dozen of turns), the mission isn't technically failed, but you'll miss a clue which leads to a mission in which you can get Panzerkleins.
Also in S2, "Unknown Complex" eventually turns to be one (cf Load-Bearing Boss above).
The "Place Marked on the Map" level of S2 contains just a ruined house with absolutely no enemies in the area, requiring you to find some data stashed in the basement. The room which leads to the basement's stairs is filled with tons of powerful mines. The mission is unlocked quite early in the campaign and it is very possible to go there before ever encountering traps of any kind. As the technical skill is broken, you'll probably not be able to disarm the mines anyway.
The "Act of Terrorism" mission in S3 is virtually impossible to complete without several run-throughs. Your men have to be split correctly between two entry points, and carry exactly the right type of weapons to take out several enemies within the space of about two or three turns once they charge through the doors.
Unique Enemy: You occasionally meet enemy agents of officers who have their own name instead of "Allies/Axies Officer" or something similar, while their stats are similar to standard officers. Some of them serve as for the mission objectives who need to be captured. Sometimes, those named unique enemies exist as friendly NPCs in the opposite campaign.
Unwinnable by Mistake: Consequence of Everything Breaks. Using explosives inside a building can create holes on the floor or destroy a stair, making an area unreachable. Even if it is required to get there. Also, explosions or stray bullets can destroy plot clues (you know, the things that are supposed to be picked up in order to complete missions and unlock new areas).
You All Meet in a Cell: S3 begins with the player character and a Sentinels' member breaking out of a basement in which they were emprisoned by THO. Then the player character joins the Sentinels.
Your Head Asplode: Any ranged attack to the head (including throwing knives) can potentially cause this in S3.