Silent Storm (Russian: Операция Silent Storm) is a tactical role-playing game for Microsoft Windows, developed by Russian developer Nival Interactive and published by JoWood in 2003 and Encore Software in 2004. The game is set in a fictionalized World War II Europe with science fiction elements.
European cover art
|Designer(s)||Dmitry "Zak" Zakharov|
|Engine||Silent Storm engine|
|Genre(s)||Turn-based tactics, tactical RPG|
An advanced game engine, the Silent Storm engine, was developed for the game and reused in several later titles. Silent Storm was followed by the expansion Silent Storm: Sentinels in 2004. A third game taking place in the same setting, Hammer & Sickle, was co-developed by Novik&Co and released in 2005. A Gold edition containing both the original game and the expansion was released in Europe later that same year.
The player commands a team of up to six elite soldiers on the Axis or Allied side, undertaking a variety of missions. Once the player begins a campaign, they may select a premade character or create their own to lead the team through the game. Once the introductory mission is complete, the player can access a base complete with a medical station, armoury, personnel, and a panzerklein hangar. From this point, the player may select a team of six characters from a pool of 20. Each character has a role such as medic, sniper, scout, grenadier, soldier or engineer. Each role has different advantages and liabilities in battle. As the player progresses through the game, the armoury will receive new weapons for the player to use, either stolen from enemies or contributed from their own forces.
Silent Storm depicts a wide variety of the authentic weaponry and equipment of circa 1943 with great detail. Mixed into otherwise realistic elements is a plot that features secret weapon projects reminiscent of spy-fi, including energy weapons. Most notable are the Panzerkleins (pseudo-German for "little tanks"), crude powered armour suits.
The game features a remarkably advanced physics model. Nearly all structures are completely destructible. This has many tactical effects in the combat. For instance, if a character hears an enemy moving in an adjacent room, they can simply fire through the wall to attack them. Silent Storm also employs ragdoll physics for bodies according to the precise velocity of an impact. Fully three-dimensional mapping allows for obstruction calculations and cover effects from all angles. Bullets ricochet and their stopping power depends on the weapon. The effects are exaggerated for a more cinematic experience (a hail of non-fatal bullets only make the target shake, but a single fatal bullet can send the target flying).
The game's story takes place during World War II in an alternate history. Thor's Hammer Organization (THO), is a shadowy organization with connections all over Europe and the goal of world domination. THO knows that this goal cannot be attained while there are powers capable of challenging them, and aims to use its connections and advanced technology to make sure the two sides of World War II devastate each other, while THO makes a grab for power when both are exhausted. The obvious influence of Norse mythology on the organization's name is further shown by the fact that all THO members use a mythological name as their call sign.
In exchange for the services of both Allied and Axis higher-ups, Thor's Hammer provides them with some of their inventions, including Panzerkleins. Panzerkleins are very difficult to destroy, as they are essentially immune to small arms fire.
Silent Storm was awarded "E3 2003 Best of Show" in the tactical genre by Wargamer.com. The game's Metacritic score, GameTab score and MobyRank are 83, 82.93% and 84, respectively. The game however suffered from a lack of sales in the United States, partially due to lack of marketing. While praised for its tactical depth, aesthetics and the quality of its game engine, the game has been criticized for its "silly", "over-the-top" story and voice acting, and for its inclusion of science fiction elements—specifically the Panzerkleins—and their effect upon game balance in the latter stages of the game.[Note 1] The game's "tired", "played-out" World War II setting, poor performance on contemporary hardware, lack of meaningful managerial features, and lack of multiplayer, were also noted.
Silent Storm won PC Gamer US's "Best Turn-Based Strategy Game 2004" award. Mark H. Walker of the magazine praised its "sweaty-palm firefights, clever leveling system, and its use of its World War II setting". The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated Silent Storm as their 2004 "Strategy Game of the Year (General)", although it lost to The Sims 2. They wrote that it "almost walked away with the award because it exhibited an addictive combination of turn-based strategy and roleplaying that hasn't been so well executed since Jagged Alliance." The staff of X-Play nominated Silent Storm for their 2004 "Best Original Game" award, which ultimately went to Katamari Damacy.
- Interview at GamersHell
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- Rausch, Allen (February 25, 2004). "S2 - Silent Storm". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
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There is one aspect of the game that really stood out as ridiculous to me. Since it's kind of integral to the plot, I don't want to spoil it. Just watch out for the suits.
- Kasavin, Greg (January 26, 2004). "Silent Storm Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Silent Storm Review". 1up.com. IGN Entertainment Games. January 1, 2000. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
But worse, late in the game Silent Storm falls victim to the nerd imperative of sci-fi elements that, though some gamers may enjoy, I found totally unnecessary and detrimental. After fighting so many tough, gritty urban battles, the introduction of Panzerkleins (powered li'l mech-like weaponized body armor) and ray guns struck a really sour note and seriously undermined the great WWII feeling the game had created up to that point.
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- Editors of CGW (March 2005). "2004 Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World (249): 56–67.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- X-Play Staff (January 18, 2005). "X-Play's Best of 2004 Nominees". X-Play. Archived from the original on November 7, 2005.
- X-Play Staff (January 27, 2005). "X-Play's Best of 2004 Winners Announced!". X-Play. Archived from the original on March 15, 2005.