The Joy Of Destruction In Silent Storm

It’s a strange time to look at old turn-based shooters. While we’re hardly swamped, the genre has left its dormancy, casting strange shadows on our old sacred cows. Whisper it now: maybe some of those old things we championed for so long aren’t all that great?

Fortunately, Silent Storm can ignore such insinuations, as it was never sacred. Its 2003 release by Nival Interactive caused little splash, and it didn’t find the legendary status of UFO or the dedicated mod scene of Jagged Alliance 2.

Playing it now, that strikes me as completely unfair.

The setting is an obscure conflict called World War Two, apparently a dispute about whose voice acting was the worst. After picking a side, you create a character and select up to five soldiers from a roster of 20. The detailed biographies of those soldiers are wasted, as aside from their class and voice (which you’ll soon mute as they never bloody shut up), they’re entirely interchangeable. Unlike Jagged Alliance, there’s no real difference between any two characters of the same class, and no strategic layer.

It relies entirely, then, on its tactical combat, and while I could praise the fetching, varied, and detailed environments this takes place in, the truth is that the appeal comes not from admiring but from absolutely demolishing them.

If you never really took advantage of the destructible buildings in UFO, and were perhaps baffled by how passionately some players celebrate them, Silent Storm will convert you. Every bullet leaves a permanent mark, and rarely only one. Everything breaks. Windows crack and shatter all round, furniture splinters noisily as doors are torn apart by gunfire and tables crushed by tumbling bodies. Floorboards are blasted apart, walls gradually fill with holes then give way. Clouds of dust kick up in the wake of huge explosions that rip open entire buildings across multiple floors. You know those WW2 films where the houses and cafés are already bombed out, and lurking soldiers make do with sheltering behind whatever’s left? You get to cause that. There’s a little faint guilt and horror, but the sheer joy of blasting is simply irresistible, and even for stealthy approaches the tactical benefits are too many.

In contrast to the relatively clean and predictable boardgame-inspired approach taken by Firaxis’ XCOM, Silent Storm favours a simulationist approach to shooting. Instead of a binary hit/miss dictated by dice, each shot fired is an entity in the world. A bullet fired at a soldier might hit the crumpled body in front of your prone shooter. It might hit someone next to him. It might put a hole in a door, or go straight through his belly (causing him to reflexively squeeze off a round and topple off a balcony) and shatter a window, then hit a stash of explosives and blow away half the building. I’ve watched a patrolman take a potshot at my scout and miss, but the sniper I’d hidden behind her was blinded by the ricochet.

To facilitate this, there’s a wide array of grenades and guns, any of which can be used by any soldier (classes are defined by perks, not restrictions), plus an interesting system of ‘familiarity’, wherein they become more proficient with a given weapon with use, so you need not betray your sense of fondness or inexplicable loyalty to a weapon when bigger numbers come along. Unfortunately, what actual effect it has is unclear, and it’s both buggy and prone to punishing versatility rather than rewarding a character’s practice – familiarity is a zero-sum game, and you’ll lose skill with your rifle for every shot of your revolver during that house clearance.

Inventory feeds back to the map, where every item is scavengable, with a unique model and physics when dropped. There are multiple firing stances for pistols, you can see exactly which grenades people are carrying on their armour, and if you zoom in impractically close, people blink.

The detailed demolition is not just for show, either. The AI responds to destruction marvelously, with soldiers effortlessly finding alternative paths through ruined buildings, cheerfully scaling a ruined building to flank a would-be ambusher. The enemy aren’t savvy enough to shoot through walls, but they manoeuvre well, and an unwary player might find themselves flanked by a crafty enemy who made use of a hole you made earlier. At times I fear they’re better at thinking in 3D than I am, so prone are they to climbing up a building and then halfway down again rather than taking a longer, flatter route.

Your troops can hear enemies moving, which works perfectly with the wall-piercing ballistics. It’s something of a wonder the first time a soldier hears someone clomping about on the floor above and you realise you can have everyone blast at the spot from below. It can be everyone, too, as Silent Storm resolves the weird idiosyncrasies of asynchronous action by letting you order multiple units at once. Audio contacts are if anything a little too perfect, effectively letting you see through walls. This is perhaps to compensate for that ubiquitous problem in turn based games: line of sight problems.

Here, Silent Storm frustrates. It’s genuinely impressive how well the line of sight calculations deal with the frequent structural changes brought about by all those exploded walls and perforated ceilings. You’ll feel clever the first time you kill someone by shooting blindly downwards. Then his friend will see you through the hole and shoot back. A scout running through a factory might report a fleeting peripheral glimpse of a stahlhelm on a distant watchtower, through a second floor window, at night.

But that same scout might enter a brightly lit room facing an enemy whose moustache she could reach out and satirically tug, and see nothing. Which, of course, means a dead scout. And they don’t come back. And you only have 21 troops. And on most difficulty settings you can’t save the game during combat (this can be bypassed via the console. But that’s no excuse, devs!). Most of the time, the line of sight is robust. But when it bugs out, it really bugs out.

There are other bugs too. Characters improve at a slothful pace, while those you leave at base somehow wind up with triple their stats. It’s not insurmountable, and modders fixed it long ago, but again, that’s no excuse. As for the game’s other flaws… well. Two come to mind, and those of you who’ve played Silent Storm probably expect that they’re “goddamn” and “panzerkleins”. You’re half right.

Midway through the campaign, your commando raids against Allied/Axis troops give way to fighting a third, fictional power hostile to both sides, who field panzerkleins: great clanking robotic suits of armour, impervious to gunfire, with devastating weaponry. Walking tanks. Mechs.

They are dreadful. Even if you accept the sci-fi element they and their complementary energy weapons introduce to an otherwise straight-laced setting, they do something far worse: fighting them is simply No Fun. Even moving the damn things around is slow and annoying, with none of the crawling, sidestepping, climbing, or risky dashes across a street worth a damn anymore. Suddenly this exciting, satisfying tactical game turns into a turgid irritant full of crap that can only be overcome by bringing your own crap to out-crap the other crap. Less subtly: panzerkleins are crap.

There are mods to weaken or remove them. But. That’s. No. Excuse.

The other major flaw of Silent Storm is this: the same old collection of frustrating nonsense that comes up in every turn-based shooter. An awkward compromise between real time and turn-based (combat’s turn based but reverts to real-time when nobody’s attacking, thrusting fundamental gameplay shifts upon you without warning). Elite warriors who throw team-killing grenades like sedated toddlers who hate themselves and life. Stealth and melee options guaranteed to let you within a millimetre of glorious satisfaction and then unfairly kill you. And those infuriating moments where you know for certain exactly where and when the enemy will appear, and set your troops up with their guns jammed in the space where his nostril will be, only for them to stand there doing nothing while he blithely waltzes in, has a little nap, and then wakes up, does some stretches, and merrily kicks everyone to death. Won’t someone please fix interrupts, or opportunity fire, or whatever synonym you use for “ridiculous garbage cheating bastard hate this stupid game goddammit” time? Maybe give us some way to, y’know, communicate with our soldiers beyond “stand there” and “shoot that” and “no not that oh Jesus Christ when did I last save aargh”.

Every game in the subgenre has these problems to some degree, particularly the simulation-heavy ones, but it seems like few are interested in doing anything about them. It’s easy to see why some devs opt for pausable real-time instead (it may invite shrieks of heresy, but “real time with pause” is certainly a valid approach if done with care), but that’s avoiding the issue. What Silent Storm represents isn’t quite a dead end, but a big step towards resolving the common shortcomings of its peer group that few followed up on. For all my complaints, it’s an excellent game that trod a difficult path with admirable grace, and its fields have lain fallow for far too long.

Silent Storm is available on both GOG and Steam.


  1. piedpiper says:

    The game is great and very physical. But expansion Sentinels is better in every aspect.

  2. Malleus says:

    “combat’s turn based but reverts to real-time when nobody’s attacking, thrusting fundamental gameplay shifts upon you without warning”

    You do realize you can turn that off and play the whole game turn based? I played it that way.

    For me this is the best turn based tactical game ever. When I tried XCOM (which was definitely good), I just couldn’t help thinking how SS is better in the tactical gameplay part.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Yep, but that brings back the problem of long stretches of empty turns where nothing happens. I understand why Silent Storm and (Jagged Alliance) had real-time movement in between fights, but the transition still causes problems.

      • Reapy says:

        I really disliked that aspect too. It’s actually the reason I got frustrated with wasteland 2 as well. Either be an RTS game or be a turn based game. If I’m in the mind to do turn based, I don’t feel like frantically clicking, knowing that I screwed up my opening position because I didn’t do 200 APM moving around. That, or waste a huge chunk of time walking around in turn based the whole time.

        Either way it’s sort of a MEH I give up on game design when they do it.

      • klops says:

        I remember the real time before combat working better in JA2. Perhaps it was because of the larger maps and therefore larger manouverability? Or then I just remember wrong.

        • Sin Vega says:

          I think it’s a combination of things. In JA2, time immediately entered turns when anyone spotted someone on the other team, whereas in Silent Storm it’s only when someone actively engages or you manually activate it.

          The advantage of the latter is that you can creep up on enemies in real time as long as they don’t clock you, but the disadvantage is that you have to watch them yourself and have the reflexes to trigger the turn in the moments between them seeing you and deciding to attack. The alternative is never quite knowing when the AI is aware of you, so you can spend ages creeping up in turn-based mode only to get suddenly caught out halfway through a turn and lose the initiative.

          The JA2 1.13 mod/patch has an option to do it the same way as Silent Storm, interestingly, with much the same result.

          The other thing about JA2 is that once a fight starts it usually goes on uninterrupted until everyone’s dead or fleeing, whereas the enemies in Silent Storm are a bit less fanatical in running towards trouble, so things drop back into real-time a bit more often.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I played it in parallel with UFO: Aftershock and both the RT/TB transitions and long stretches of absolute monotony made me wish they’d gone with real-time with pause instead.

      I remember one of the early Axis missions, defending a hotel (?) from an attack, it must’ve taken me hours with turn after turn of nothing happening.

  3. Lars Westergren says:

    Maybe I should give it another chance. The voice acting and writing was so painful I quit after 30 minutes last time. But so many praise it, and now Sin reminded me…

    • unimural says:

      The voice acting is so bad I’ve actually thought about making an Arvid voicepack for XCOM 2. Decades after playing the game, on the quiet, lonely nights when hopelessness seeps into my bones I still hear:

      “This will be a piece of birthday cake.”

  4. DrazharLn says:

    > Won’t someone please fix interrupts,

    Frozen Synapse is probably the best game for interruption fire that I know of. Almost never felt cheated once I’d learnt the (simple) rules.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I had to cut it for length, but Frozen Synapse and Valkyria Chronicles were the only games that came to mind as doing interesting things with turn-based shooting. I’d love to see more games experiment with alternatives like they did.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Steamworld Heist on the 3DS (should be on PC sometime this year) is another. It’s a turn-based sidescroller where you aim your shoots. There are a lot of ricochets involved.

      • Julian Gollop says:

        Do you know that Frozen Synapse was based on my game ‘Laser Squad Nemesis’ from 2002? Also, X-COM Apocalypse battles could be player either turn-based or pausable real-time. The real time system allowed for fairly complex tactics (once you knew what you were doing).

        • Sin Vega says:

          I didn’t know that about Synapse. Apocalypse was my favourite of the series! I pretty much always played real-time too. The fast forward/slow motion options were a big help.

          One of my favourite details is how you could chuck a clip of ammunition at people and they’d assume it was a grenade and run for cover. And it had mass destruction, I remember once blowing up the only stairs on a slum level, accidentally trapping the enemies on the roof. So I spent absolutely ages systematically destroying the entire lower level, until finally one of my soldiers took a shot that brought the entire building down. Glorious.

  5. Faldrath says:

    I remember failing a mission to retrieve some documents after a grenade “accidentally” hit some explosives that, uh, blew up half the building I was fighting in. Unfortunately, that half contained the documents I was supposed to retrieve. It was a great game, but yeah, panzerkleins meant I played the first half of the game over and over but the second half only once. (it also had one of those awful copy protections, didn’t it? Starforce or something?)

    • DuncUK says:

      I used to use the building destruction to my advantage and for me was the most glorious aspect of the destruction… there were many maps with multi-floor civilian buildings that would variously be packed with Nazis you had to kill. Rather than creep my soldiers upstairs to a certainly fatal wall of lead, why not just pack enough of the ground floor with explosives and let the collapsing building kill the soldiers for you?

      I first discovered this was possible by accident, when part of a house collapsed due to repeated grenade explosions I had been using merely to remove cover to dislodge an enemy soldier. This caused the whole frontage to cave in, taking with it the enemy I was targeting and two of his comrades on the floor above whom I had not even seen yet.

      Firaxis, take note for Xcom 3!

      • dglenny says:

        Oh yes. It’s even in the XCOM lineage for them to steal from directly; those impressively large and awfully fragile glass towers from Apocalypse were magical at flattening enemies perched in or under them.

  6. Syrion says:

    I had a lot of fun with SS for many out the reasons you mentioned. I didn’t even get to the Panzerkleins, as I also remember SS as being pretty lengthy and difficult. Random encounters alone could take up to an hour or so to resolve. And all those moments where my soldier is standing right in front of the enemy and shoots in every direction several times, which is really nicely animated though, completely missing every shot. That’s the random number generator, but it shouldn’t be that comically extreme for a trained soldier.

    I was younger then, but I guess my biggest problem is how long rounds and the whole game can take, which unfortunately also scared me away from Jagged Alliance 2. Another reason why I also think Frozen Synapse is a brilliant game!

    • Sin Vega says:

      I love the way the game handles missed shots with the pistol. Take an accurate shot at someone 10 feet away and you’ll point the pistol at them. If the next shot misses, your character visibly moves their arm about a foot to the side before firing. It’s a bit silly.

      What I do really like though is how deceptively powerful smg and machine guns are at longer ranges. Even a 4% chance to hit can be well worth spraying burst fire at for a few rounds, encouraging you to use those weapons as they were intended. There’s no suppression system, but punting 40 bullets at a time at a target (which is easily done in the space of a turn or two) will often do a lot more damage than the percentages suggest, not least as your shots get more accurate the longer they’re trained on the same target as your soldiers use the missed shots to calibrate their aim.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Yeah, what always bugged me in JA2 is that there was no use in shooting in bursts unless the target was at point blank range or you had a merc with 95+ marksmanship. Not exactly an authentic portrayal of a modern firefight!

        • Sin Vega says:

          Totally. Have you played the 1.13 patch for JA2? It adds (among many other, optional, highly customisable things) a suppression system better than any I’ve seen in a game. That alone completely transforms how gunfights play out, and makes even crappy, inaccurate automatic weapons useful, as one or two well-placed people with enough ammo can potentially pin down entire squads.

  7. cosmitz says:

    An alternative is the Men of War saga. While dissing completely the turn-based aspect for a very frustrating real-time action, it’s by far the most simulation i’ve seen, and it demands huge things of you both in micro and in macro. Manually aiming a single soldier’s Panzerfaust is something miraculous, same as manually angling and firing a KV-1 on a field where you can take control of any twenty vehicles and many more troops.

    Troops you can put hats on, and manage ammo to the bullet.

    It’s ridiculous and amazing and unique.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Men of War is rather amazing, and I really admire it but unfortunately I’m absolutely terrible at playing it.

      It feels like a game that should be a multiplayer co-op, but you’re stuck on your own.

      The third Russian mission where you have to defend a train before it leaves was insane, with german soldiers and tanks pouring through your defences from every side. I think it took me at least a dozen tries to get through that, maybe over 20 times.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Yeah, Men of War is brilliant but absolutely exhausting. It badly needs some sort of auto-rearming AI system too, having to individually supply 20 soldiers every few minutes got old fast.

      • Jakkar says:

        Silly! There’s plenty of multiplayer co-op in Assault Squad, and many mods. Get to it!

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Men of War can absolutely be played on co-op, and it’s heaps of fun.

    • klops says:

      This article nails it. Destruction is beautiful and joyful and the flaws are weird. Rationalizing desing choises mentioned here (panzerkeleins, the xp growth, better tool use) would’ve lead to a lot better game. And some money for voice actors.

      Even while I enjoy new XCOMs in all their boardgamey limitations (limitations in a good sense – you have 2 moves/turn. Make use of them), I’d really want to see a proper action point based SS/JA2 type game with the destruction. Soul of JA2, physics of SS… mmmh.

      I played it couple years ago and really enjoyed it – for a while. Perhaps even more than 10 years ago. People interested in SS should google the mostly unknown and weirder Hammer & Sickle a more RPGy game in the same engine.

      • klops says:

        Oops. Wasn’t meant to be a reply. But you’re right with MoW.

  8. pack.wolf says:

    I remember one mission in which the objective (I think it was some kind of intelligence, maps or the like) was located on the upper floor of a building. After the fighting had died down there was hardly a building left and especially no stairs. I couldn’t get to the objective. Then I realized I could throw my last few grenades up there. The floor collapsed and the objective fell down. Mission successful. What an awesome game!
    Then I met the PanzerKleins. They sucked. What an awful game.

    I didn’t know there were mods for this. Guess after I finally get around to XCOM2 I’ll have to install my GOG copy and try some.

  9. Sorbicol says:

    Silent Storm, and especially its follow up Sentinels were the best games of the 00’s that most people didn’t play by a mile. It was as janky as hell and the perk system for each soldier class often ended up contradicting itself (I’m sure the final perk for the sniper needed up being worse than the mid teir one) but when it was working it worked beautifully. From the hidden robot companion in Sentinels (only unlockable if you were an engineer class and completed specific missions in a specific order while finding the hidden clues in those missions – I reckon 90% of players never even knew it existed) to the side missions often being more fun than the main missions (the UFO mission anyone?) it was just a lovely game to play, with so many good ideas in it.

    It was just a shame so few people played it.

  10. Reapy says:

    I feel like silent storm was built during the end of an era when game makers just stopped adding ‘features’ to build their game out.

    Maybe it was cost + time justified, but, I guess I recall an earlier time in gaming when designers were basically thrilled that they could add more and more systems to the games since computers could keep up with it.

    Silent storm might have been one of those victims of this. I wanted to love this game but the game had a bunch of downsides that made it a little less fun to play, but the foundation that the game was built on was great. It just needed a bit of iteration and balance passes, maybe to drop the mechs.

    I appreciate simple design with lots of depth as much as the next person (EG XCOM), but I wish the ‘insane systems working together’ type of games weren’t only reserved for DCS simulations now a days.

    • Sin Vega says:

      As a few people have said above, the expansion, Sentinels, was a step towards fixing some of its wonkier bits. It still has panzerkleins, unfortunately, and they appear earlier, but they’re integrated a bit better. It’s a real shame the series ended there, if nothing else the engine was ripe for lending out.

      • Anthile says:

        They did make a direct sequel called Hammer & Sickle but I never played it and I don’t think it has been well received. After that they made the Night Watch game, based on the book series of the same name, using the same Silent Storm engine. I believe the reviews were even less favorable.

        • unacom says:

          Hammer & Sickle was in many ways more problematic than Silent Storm and Sentinels. It got ridiculously hard right at the start and you could practically doom yourself in the first couple of missions, only to find out very late that rien ne va plus. But it had a lot going for it. It had some more RPG-aspects (ok. characters were still not very good to outright unbelieveable), like having to recruit different agents, managing your inventory in between missions and deciding what loot to keep.
          You could easily miss little clues that would open (or close for good) a certain path. which would be rahter frustrating.
          Did I like it? Hell yeah. Did I hate it? Absolutely.
          The Silent Storm series (all three of them) are rightly loved and hated. By the way, I´m probably one of those few who liked the panzerkleins and I really cherished setting one up with my heavy/engineer in order to bomb it (you need MANY bombs -but I see that as a BOOM, ah boon. My brother chose the scout/sniper-path and ghosted his way through it. We both really like(d) it.

  11. Shadow says:

    I had a good time with Silent Storm, back in the day, up until the panzerkleins showed up and ruined it.

    Never really tried the sequel, but would be willing to if it dispenses with the horribly thought-out power suits.

  12. loki1944 says:

    Another gem in a similar vein is Soldiers At War. Man did I play the crap out of that game when it came out.

  13. GemFire81 says:

    Silent Storm is great , but dang do i pove Disgaea!!! Wish they would put out a brand new Silent Storm and Disgaea for pc :((

  14. Shinan says:

    I remember I randomly found this game in a bargain bin when it was still fairly new. And I loved it to bits. Until, like everyone else, I met the Panzerkleins.

    This was essentially my introduction to squad based tactical games too. (I might have played Fallout Tactics before this) And I really don’t understand why not all others have this amount of destructible terrain. It was just so much fun.

    I remember my heavy literally shooting a hole in a wall so that my guys could flank a facility that had a heavily armed main entrance.

    I also remember the time I had to reload a mission over and over because of explosive barrels and a shot that went wide and destroyed all the objectives. Except that one time when the building fell apart but the ledge with the objective stayed.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    A lot of people moaning about the panzerkleins here.
    Sure they were a pain in the ass but I do believe they turned into paper tigers the second you got your hands on energy weapons.
    If I remember correctly:
    Energy weapons penetrated the PKs armour effortlessly and did massive damage to their pilots.

    • Shadow says:

      They simply took out a lot of depth from the game, and added very little to the experience.

  16. mootpoint says:

    It seems I am alone in not hating the panzerkleins. To me they only upped the ante when my squad was becoming accomplished. Taking them out by targeting the pilot with a sniper always felt like an accomplishment, much like beating a decidedly unfair multi-pod trigger in XCOM2.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Not alone at all; I quite liked them.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I kind of get what they were going for, it’s essentially bringing tanks in without bringing tanks in (because tanks almost invariably boringify and ruin infantry-based games), and in theory it’s a good idea for the reasons you mention. But in practice I find it tedious having 90% of my repertoire suddenly rendered useless. Even the super-heavy grenades that can single-handedly take down entire buildings can be pretty much shrugged off by panzerkleins, which leaves your grenadier lying there 10 feet away, exposed and completely screwed.

      Sure, there are ways to take them down, but nowhere near enough as there are ways to fight humans, and most of those ways are really tedious.

      • Premium User Badge

        Earl-Grey says:

        Heh, boringify.

        I will admit that it has been at least three years since I played through SS, but if I remember correctly they were total pushovers if you just prepared for them by bringing some sort of (I SAID IT WAS OVER THREE YEARS AGO OKAY!?) energy weapons.
        -laser cannons I believe?

        • Sin Vega says:

          I forget what they were called, but there’s a one shot energy cannon sort of thing that was pretty effective, yeah. Can’t remember if it counted as a rifle or a launcher, but then the perks for those weren’t that big a deal anyway.

          • Premium User Badge

            Earl-Grey says:

            I think it was my “heavy weapons” dude/dudette who had to lug it around, so my bet is that it was a launcher.

            You know, I’m amused by how lazy we are. I could have easily found out exactly what they were and whatever in between comments or before commenting.
            But instead we mumble on about half remembered details, love it.
            After all, if every one always googled the correct details, what would we have to talk about?

        • Sorbicol says:

          One of the random missions in I think Switzerland (it took ages to appear, upwards of 10 minutes really time I think) was a crash landed UFO. Underneath it was a XCOM laser rifle (original Microprose X-COM) it was a homage to the game.

          That shot and handled like a rifle and was a completely overpowered Panzerklien killer which took them out of the game as a serious concern.

          You can’t help thinking it was added to the game because they knew they’d completely screwed up the implementation of them. The idea was fine I think, it was just the way the little walking tank suits mechanics worked in the game. Which as been alluded to in the article and all the comments, was just terrible!

  17. teije says:

    One of my favourite and also most aggravating games. So many great things in it and so much just wonky as shit. I played it last year and remembered all the things I both loved and hated about it, and 4 missions was all I could handle. You’ve summed my feelings up pretty well in your article – I enjoyed reading.

  18. slerbal says:

    Great game, aside from the Panzerkleins :)

    Also good article!

  19. Benratha says:

    That fourth picture? I’m sure that looks familiar….

    ‘checks XCOM Enemy Within base defence’

  20. cpt_freakout says:

    I’ve had this sitting in my GOG collection (and actually installed!) since last year – I never played it and I intended to get my TB fix before XCOM 2, but here we are, and I’m hooked to XCOM 2. This article has just gotten me quite excited about trying it out… when I finish with those damn aliens.

  21. Robin says:

    I worked at JoWooD (Silent Storm’s publisher) at the time it was being developed. It suffered from the worst possible timing, really – they were trying to release several relatively big budget games while in financial trouble, and as a result couldn’t be given the extra time it really needed to add more polish, or any real marketing/PR push.

    I still have the GDD somewhere. It’s amazingly detailed, really giving an insight into how Russian/Ukrainian teams were able to make such technically ambitious games (probably reaching the apotheosis with Stalker).

    They did a pretty good job with the engine, considering the game runs fine with no patches or tweaks on modern PCs, which you can’t say of a lot of AAA games from the past decade. It looks fairly unspectacular today, but in 2002 it was genuinely impressive – it’s the first game where I did that ‘whoa, those AREN’T prerendered sprites?!’ thing when the camera rotated.

    I’ve never made it past the mission in the Swiss munitions factory in the campaign, which if you bring in panzerkleins is like trying to play Jenga while standing on it.

  22. Chatlanin says:

    I played Silent Storm when it came out, and I was then 17 years old and it was the most adored my game, I played it all day and night. And when in 2004 published Silent Storm: Sentinels (to get rid of most of the shortcomings originals), and I went to university and left his outback, then I am happy to find that this game has a bunch of fans, and I never heard negative comments from people who played it. Perhaps, if I decide to play it now, with the height of his playing experience will find it flaws, but I do not want to destroy the bright childhood memory that kept me on the Silent Storm and of the pride that I felt for the domestic game developers.
    P.S. Another was the Hammer & Sickle Silent Storm, in some ways even better than the original games

  23. Alien says:

    “In contrast to the relatively clean and predictable boardgame-inspired approach taken by Firaxis’ XCOM, Silent Storm favours a simulationist approach to shooting.”

    And thats the real problem with Firaxis’ XCOM: it feels like a lame boardgame. The orginial X-Com, Jagged Alliance and SS felt like “simulations” with deep and emergent gameplay.

  24. Syrion says:

    That’s a surprisingly good and simple way of defining in what major way the new XCOM differs from the original.
    While I love the original, I haven’t yet played more than an hour or two of the new game and couldn’t quite put my finger on why on a very fundamental level it doesn’t appeal to me all that much.

  25. Themadcow says:

    Great game but definitely for an age when I could spend far more of my time gaming. It wasn’t as fun as X-Com (1994) but the combat was brilliant – certainly better than the XCOM reboot and incredibly rewarding when a plan came together. I played it again a couple of years ago and it was still excellent but just too time consuming for my married with kids self.