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|16 AUG 2003 at 10:53pm|
|Deleted User||Many gamers today seem to speak with great disdain of games with full motion video sequences, and I had always been somewhat puzzled by such complaints. Some of the FMV games I've played (Dark Side of the Moon) are among my favourites and others use FMV sparingly and with good taste (Zork Nemesis) so that the game doesn't seem at all like an FMV game. Therefore, I approached Silent Steel expecting a traditional adventure with a few FMV sequences thrown in. Now that I've played the actual game, my reaction is completely different.|
Silent Steel consists almost entirely of AVI movies, displayed in a small box in the center of the screen. (There is a full screen mode, but the video quality decreases drastically.) There is almost nothing to do in the game besides watch AVI movies. You cannot move your character of your own volition. You cannot click on objects to examine or use them. The only interaction that you are allowed in this game is to select one of three dialogue lines to say to the characters in the game. Essentially, it is like playing through one of the dialogue trees in a regular adventure. This style of gameplay is risky, because if the game is too short or the puzzles are unintuitive, gamers will certainly not feel they got their money's worth. The interface, however, is quite simple to grasp, and aside from a few skipping videos I encountered no technical difficulties.
The plot of Silent Steel is one of those labyrinthine tales of international intrigue that would take several paragraphs to summarize. Essentially, you are the captain of the USS Idaho, a heavily armed nuclear submarine, and you quickly become entangled in international conflict. Other enemy vessels might be lurking out there somewhere, and your crew might not be trustworthy. The plot has so many twists and turns that to spoil it is to ruin the entire game, so I won't describe it any further. These kinds of stories often confuse me, with their rapid pace and highly technical language, and I replayed video sequences a lot to figure out what was going on. For me, the plot was somewhat confusing but it was certainly interesting and suspenseful.
The FMV sequences themselves are quite well acted and look much like a real movie. Watching the in-game movies is very impressive- the sets are extremely accurate and the video quality is completely professional. The videos are slightly less crisp and clean if you switch to full screen, but are still servicable. The game designers have even used the same fonts on the packaging that you normally see on movie posters. An especially nice touch was the reel of bloopers you could watch on disk 4, a touch that would have been even nicer if the bloopers were funny. Where the game graphics suffer is where computer animation is used- occasionally the game would cut to an exterior shot of the submarine- each time the submarine looked like it was made of rubber. Surely there was some stock footage of submarines that they could have used?
Silent Steel suffers in the area of gameplay. Quite badly. You see, since the only gameplay is to select dialogue lines, the only way they could make the game difficult was to make the correct choice of dialogue completely unintuitive. As a result, the game becomes incredibly difficult. Early in the game, you are sent a secret message briefing you on an enemy sub in the area. You have the option of ignoring it and going back to sleep, having it sent to your room, or going to the bridge to receive it. I always selected the wrong dialogue option and went to the bridge, which seems like the sensical thing to do. WRONG! If you get up and go to the bridge you will lose the game. There is no way to win after you have done this. You can continue to play for half an hour, then you will lose, and you won't know why. Saving is no use because you get no feedback on whether your decision is correct or not- you could have saved in a dead end and have to start all over again. There's plenty of gameplay, which is frequently thought of as lacking in FMV games, but only because to win you will have to play the game about 50 times through.
Would Silent Steel make a good movie? Heck yes. Is Silent Steel a good game? Not really, because despite the good plot and fine video sequences the gameplay is incredibly awful. Offhand I'd say the game deserves a rating of about 55%.
|21 AUG 2003 at 9:09pm|
|Deleted User||I always thought that Silent Steel was a submarine simulation with FMV cutscenes .|
Anyway, with your review, I'm not more interested in playing it .
|22 AUG 2003 at 1:36am|
|Deleted User||No, it's not a submarine sim. That would have been somewhat more interesting .|
Don't play it unless you can get it really cheap. Even with the dead ends and illogical puzzle solutions it's about half the gameplay of the average adventure.
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