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, after you find out that your boss is the Big Bad, the Sentinels' home base is under a full-scale assault by THO forces, including Panzerkleins. Your forces have the advantage of machinegun emplacements and trenches, but they will lose without your team.
Armor Is Useless: Averted with the Panzerkleins, which can block most small arms fire and even a good number of grenades. Played straight with Energy Weapons, which go right through Panzerkleins like a hot knife through butter, except for the stand-alone Expansion Pack, where their penetration stat is severely Nerfed.
BFG: The heavy weapons category, including machine guns and rocket launchers.
Blast Out: The second main story mission of 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.
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 tougher doors may necessitate higher caliber weapons. 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. Metal doors and containers can only be broken by explosives and RPGs.
Can't Catch Up: Likely to happen to your mercs on the field, whereas the recruit pool will miraculously gain experience and skill levels vastly higher than your party.
Combat Medic: Medics, while not usually required to, are able to use any weapon in the game, up to and including machine guns and rocket launchers. They also have a decent Snipe and Melee skill rating, second only to the Sniper and Scout respectively, and have a perk branch dedicated to melee combat.
Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Bullets can still penetrate and hit, depending on the object used as cover. Most rifles and machine guns are even able to shoot through walls.
This can be abused: use a hidden spotter to locate the enemy, then eliminate them with indirect fire through the walls. The AI won't return fire if it can't see where it's being shot at from.
Cool Guns: All of the World War II-era guns on the lists, and a few from just after it.
Cossacks: Taras Petrenko looks like a stereotypical Zaporizhian cossack with a chub haircut. His personnel file even shows him playing a kobza (a Ukrainian lute), which is frequently associated with cossacks. He will frequently reply in Gratuitous Ukrainian. And no, he doesn't do the cossack dance.
Critical Hit: These can range from causing the character to bleed to blindness and deafness, 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 any ranged weapon, up to and including machine guns.
Do Anything Soldier: While they won't be as good at it, any member of your squad can do the same things as your specialists.
Everything Breaks: Some explosives can take out a large chunk of the environment, making some areas of the map completely unreachable. This can sometimes be solved, however, by using even MORE explosives.
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.
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.
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.
The stand-alone Expansion Pack has several more silenced rifles that become available at the store.
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?
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.
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.
More Dakka: The Panzerkleins carry a LOT of firepower, and there are no problems with fully automatic fire for regular submachine guns and machine guns as well.
Multinational Team: The special forces team the player assembles is manned by soldiers of various Allied/Axis-aligned nations. A few are from Allied/Axis-linked countries and ditched them due to neutrality/"own country being a douche in standing up for itself"/"I think the Allied/Axis forces can help my own country be free" issues. For example, there's an Irishwoman who joined the Axis due to the British executing her father as he played a major role in the Easter Rebellion in Ireland back in 1916.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in S2 - you can play as the Axis. However, the game remains largely the same regardless of which side you pick, as you wind up primarily battling Thor's Hammer anyway.
Also wholeheartedly inverted in H&S.
Nuke 'em: If you don't play your cards right in H&S, World War Three 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.
Once you get to energy weapons, you must lug around drum-sized energy cells with only 12 shots in them. However, if you happen to be lucky (or patient) enough to get the random encounter with the Prototype 8M1 rifle, you can get a rifle clip-sized energy cell with 50 shots.
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).
Politically Correct History: In the Silent Storm universe, the United States military is racially integrated, and every Allied and Axis military allows women to freely enlist and serve in frontline combat roles, including fighter pilots and elite paratroopers. In Real Life, the American military was racially segregated until well after the end of the war, and the Soviets were the only major power to allow women to serve in combat at the time.
Powered Armor: Panzerlkleins appear late in the game, which are immune to small arms. The only way to beat them are either with your own Panzerkleins or with energy weapons, which cut right through armor.
In the Expansion Pack, the Panzerkleins are less immune 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).
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.
Stupid Jetpack Hitler: 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.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: 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.
Unexpected Genre Change: The game puts a lot of emphasis on realism, evident by its highly detailed and authentic weaponry and the well-crafted environments of the English countryside and war-torn Europe. Then, about three-quarters of the way through, the Panzerkleins appear. This is so jarring that most players download a mod to turn this off completely.
Useless Useful Stealth: The Scout class can sneak about rather well, but as with most Turn-Based games this usually gets you killed. However, once you discover how many knives and shuriken you can throw in a single turn or obtain silenced firearms, neither of which break stealth, everything changes.