What's that you say? Turn based games can't be fun? Shame on you...

User Rating: 9.3 | Silent Storm PC
You have to hand it to a game developer to try making a turn-based action game. Think about it... turn, based, action. Action games these days are gung-ho on packing as many big booms and massive destruction before you even know what's going on. Not to say it's a bad thing, it gets your adrenaline going, but when a game like Silent Storm comes along and can get your heart racing as fast as one of the "modern" action games, you know you have a true gem of a game.

As I feel I've annoyingly said before, this is a turn based game. For those who don't remember what this genre exactly is, think of it like a board game. Make your move, then sit back and watch your opponent make his move, not being able to jump in at any time to counter. It makes you choose each and every action carefully, like making sure you can get into cover after firing so you're not a sitting duck for the enemy's turn. Sound exciting? No, not really, but that's where this game surprises you.

The game is set during WWII, and does a pretty good job at first setting up old WWII era weapons and settings. You'll fight through settings such as occupied towns with Germans hiding out in civilian houses, train stations, air strips, and even some factory type settings which offer themselves up to some frantic close quarters battles. It keeps up the charade of being strictly WWII era for a fair portion of the game, before it switches into a weird kind of science fiction story line, where the Germans are building these annihilating war machines, but it would be a shame to spoil the details on these behemoths.

You start the game customizing your character, where you can choose what he / she looks like, what class he / she is (like sniper, demolitions, support, assault, the usual suspects), then it will drop you right into your first mission. The mission structure after that is supremely varied. You'll be given a map of Europe and can choose where you can go to partake in a mission. Apart from the absolutely critical story missions, you'll find that the hot spots that come up will be varied in both their locations and the settings that they'll take place in. It really adds to the replay value in the game, as you'll rarely be playing the same missions over and over. This can also, however, be kind of confusing, as there's no indication as to where you're EXACTLY supposed to go next. But if you're having fun playing through the missions, then you won't even really care about the lack of structure.

The battle system is fantastically modeled; simple to learn and use, yet surprisingly complex. The actual turn-based structure will only kick in either when you spot an enemy soldier or an enemy soldier spots you. Then each person in your six man team will be alloted a certain amount of Action Points (AP), depending on his / her level. All actions you do draw from this pool of AP, from moving to shooting to changing your profile (standing, crouching, or prone). Weapons also have different firing modes that will change how many APs you use. For example, with a sniper rifle you can use all APs you have left for that turn to concentrate on a shot, giving you much better accuracy. Or, for the automatic weapons, instead of doing a short burst, which uses a small amount of AP, you can choose to unload a full clip, using a large amount of AP, but giving you a better chance to hit your target. In addition to different firing modes, you can also choose to do a "precision hit." By pressing a button on your numberpad, you can choose to aim for the head for a quick kill, a leg to slow down an opponent, or an arm to knock a weapon out of an opponents hand. You'll find yourself using all of these features, especially as you get into the game and figure out everything you can do. The "precision shots" are especially useful should an enemy sneak up on you and you need to take him down in a turn or two.

Once you use up the AP for each person in your team, it's time to sit back and watch the enemy go through his turn. During this time, you have no control, save for interruption occasions, which I'll explain in a bit. It can get kind of frustrating when an enemy does get the jump on you and punishes you up close with a rifle, but it'll just get you thinking more defensively during your turns and you'll be able to avoid a lot of those situations. As stated before, there are times during the enemy's turn where you'll be able to interrupt them. If an enemy soldier walks into one of your team members' line of sight, and that team member's position was unknown, you'll get to spend any remaining APs from your previous turn to act upon the enemy. This is where strategy comes in the game, as sometimes you may want to save some APs at the end of your turn in case you do get to interrupt. A general strategy, for example, would be to place your big machine gunner right outside a door, use the APs of a sniper or rifle man to lure enemy's out of the door, end your turn, then as the enemy uses his turn to pile his soldiers out of the door, your machine gunner will get the interruption and can unload his gun on the unsuspecting bunch. Of course, this is just a simple example, and you'll have fun experimenting with this element of the game.

Where Silent Storm really shines is in it's presentation values. The physics engine built into the game leads to some really satisfying scenarios. Near everything in the game is destructable, even entire buildings. Is a door locked and you need to get through to the target on the other side? Simple, just blast the door to splinters. Is the door metal and unable to be shot through? Blow a hole in the ceiling on the lower level of the building and climb up through the floor. Just feeling adventurous? Place explosives in the corners of a house and bring the whole thing and everyone in it down! The possibilities are wide and varied, and you could waste hours experimenting in a single mission.

The game could use polishing on a few elements, however. As stated before, the story-driven structure is loose, which could or couldn't annoy you, its up to the personal player. Also, your team members' line of sight can sometimes be buggy too, as sometimes you'll have to just maneuver around and mess with your position to see an enemy that should be easily spotted right in front of you. And since it takes APs to move around, this can get frustrating, but it's a minor flaw on what is otherwise a fantastic game.

I found this game for 20 bucks, and I would have paid 50 for it, easily. The elements of strategy and just downright how much you can do in each level lends itself to a lot of replay value and is just as fun the 10th time around as it is the first. The turn based structure is both old and brand spankin' new at the same time, and a refreshing change from today's gun-crazy shooters. So give it a try, you definately will not be disappointed.
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