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Posted on Nov 6, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Silent Heroes – Game Review (PC)

Jim H. Moreno

Another common wargame element missing is a compass. Not a vital missing item here, but it would add to the overall atmosphere of the game if one were present. There’s a nice open section down on the Interface where a compass would fit nicely.

Equipment management is another pain in the six. Your team starts off with a very meager load, and not quite a uniform supply amongst the team members, either. Everything else must be gathered from the battlefield, though there will be more than enough found to carry out any mission. The problems arise in trying to divvy up supplies to each commando in equal shares, and the amount of time that is required to do so. The involved process is due to the way sharing items is done here. Individually, each member has a limited amount of space in their backpack. Small arms ammo stacks in amounts of 100. Bandages stack five each. Grenades, mines, and weapons don’t stack. Moreover, once stacked, there’s no way to split it up. There’s no way to take a stack of 100 rounds, split it into two stacks of 50 rounds each, and give one of those stacks to another commando. Bandages are the same story.


One way I found to better control the equipment loadout was to make use of the inventory space of vehicles, field pieces, and boxes whenever captured or open. Inside their inventory, everything stacks in a single pile, seemingly without limit. So, I would designate one ‘gofer’ (a soldier to ‘go fer’ this and ‘go fer’ that) to strip any dead German soldiers of their ammo and grenades, fill up his backpack, then carry all that to, say, a captured tank. Then, I would have each commando Examine (X key) the tank, and double-click on what item they needed, which would fill up all the empty space in their backpack with that item. Then I would replace the extra items back into the tank inventory, keeping only what I wanted each commando to carry. With up to six team members on your squad, it’s easy to see how time-consuming the process can get. Yet, it had to be done; the alternative being running out of ammo right in the middle of a firefight, or not having a single anti-tank grenade when one rolls up on your position. This is something that needs to be fixed quickly.

Make use vehicle storage space whenever possible; they can hold much more than a commando can carry.

One final bit on gameplay involves the various mission designs. Through ten maps, the missions range from destroying an ammo depot and taking out enemy radar to capturing a train station and even stealing a prize German tank. A nice variety, yes, but they were all done on too similar-looking maps, consisting mostly of a pond or two, some forests here, a wheat patch there, and open ground everywhere else. Only two maps had rain (which had no effect on gameplay that I could tell), and one of those was the only night mission in the game. I personally expected every mission to done at night. Special operations own the night, right? It would have been nice to add in the ability to replay each mission under cover of darkness, and some snowy, mountainous terrain would only add to the games’ quality.




Once I was able to top the learning curve and get into gameplay, I slowly became impressed with how well Silent Heroes looks. For a budget title with so many other inconsistencies, the graphics here stood out enough to help pull me into the game and keep me interested. From the overall landscape, where the breeze and passing soldiers cause trees and brush to rustle and sway, to the minute details on uniforms and weapons, it’s all nicely done. Vehicles, tanks and field pieces don’t look like they just rolled off the assembly line. They look used, weathered, like they could use a good scrubbing by a private with a metal brush. Houses and villages have a believable lived-in look, with identifiable clothing hanging out on the line, and chickens running about the yards. During one mission I caught myself after some few minutes watching a transport truck drive back and forth between two camps, looking closely at how the front tires turned correctly whether the truck was moving forward or backing up. Even the two soldiers in the cab could be easily seen.

All the usual graphics setting can be found and tweaked with Silent Heroes: screen size, shadows, gamma, texture compression, there’s even a setting to manipulate the frames per second rate. I played the game with my screen set to 1280x1024x32, with my frames per second set to 75, and at 60Hz. I also turned off shadows, a pointless addition for an RTS game to me. Only once did I ever encounter a slight slowdown, when I tossed a Molotov cocktail into an open patch of brush I had lured a squad of enemy German soldiers into. One soldier caught fire and ran out of the brush and into the forest, where he died, but not before catching a nearby tree on fire. The end result was that I had almost a full quarter of the map in flames, which made for some slower than normal map scrolling and character movements.

Excellent detailing throughout the maps make it easy to get into the feel of each firefight. Big guns make big bangs and pretty explosions.

Speaking of dying and dead soldiers, there are some way cool animations here. I can already hear Jack Thompson filing the suit to see me in court. I don’t know what the ESRB rating for Silent Heroes is, but it should be towards the older crowd. One, probably for the fact that this is combat and warfare, but also because of the digital bloodshed. Bullets make bloody holes in bodies, grenades and mines make bodies a bloody mess. Rounds fired from a sniper pass clean through bodies (sometimes two at a time), causing a small but clearly seen blood spray as the target collapses to the ground. Corpses disappear in a bloody mist when run over by a tank. And soldiers run willy-nilly when they catch fire, screaming until they drop in a blackened heap.

In a similar vein, vehicle ‘death animations’ are a pleasant sight, too. When caused, they explode in great fashion, throwing debris and body parts for many meters around. Vehicle damage is location centered, a very nice move on the game makers’ part. Target the track on a tank, and only it will get damaged. Place a well-thrown anti-tank grenade at a tank’s hind quarter, and it may only damage that location, making the tank a sitting duck and yours for the taking. The destructive power is nicely scaled to each individual weapon, also. A tank running over a mine may only lose one or two tracks. A motorbike running over the same mine will evaporate in a loud flash. These are some of the things that I think help to balance the good to the bad in Silent Heroes.




The sounds are yet another area where Silent Heroes hits the mark square on. For the first example, I submit the rain and storm sound effects here. Both are superb! I knew they were something right on upon first hearing the crash of lightning and the rhythm of the falling rain through my headphones. Thirty minutes later, when another lightning strike woke me up from the peaceful nap I had just taken, I only had cause to thank the sound engineer who added this weather effect into the game. Yes, I’m one of those who sleeps very soundly during storms, and I’ve only encountered such a natural sounding effect in one other game – The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion – which gets difficult for me to play during an in game storm.

Masha the Mysterious Sniper: male or female? You decide! "Dmitry! Wake up Vasily before he starts dreaming of Alyssa Milano again and blows our cover!"

Combat sounds are done with just as much precision and belief, too. So much so that I had to be aware of the volume level on my headphones before getting into a firefight, for fear of blowing an eardrum or two. Explosions rip the air in force, bullets zip by the correct ear, and whine off walls and trees in the distance. Pistols sound like pistols, not SMG’s, which in turn have their own distinct sound from mounted machine guns. Every vehicle, wheeled and armored, has their own sound, and once into the game, I found myself able to recognize each from their sound alone.

There is one slight downside here, however, but it is an advantage to the player. On a couple of maps, the sound of idling vehicles and tanks can be heard off-map. Sure enough, the player will get to a certain point and trigger their arrival into gameplay. They arrive expected, however, and it’s easy to set up a minefield or some other suprise for them.

Music scores play only during menu screens at default, not during actual gameplay. There was no need to go into Settings and turn it off, as I usually do, though that option is present.

One major sound irritation which the player cannot control during gameplay is the awful and repetitious voice acting given to each soldier. If I am correct, only two voice actors were hired, one for the Russian side, and one for the Germans. Even the lone female Russian sniper on your team sounds off with a male voice! Not only that, they were only given roughly four lines to say throughout the entire game. They continuously repeat them when taking orders, attacking, moving and even when they’re left idle. It begs the question of why someone named the game Silent Heroes when they are most certainly not? The fact that they yelled in what sounded to me like authentic Russian was all well and good. But after they had been yelling in my ear constantly for the first couple of missions, it all began to run together rather obnoxiously, so much so that I swear I was hearing them yell things like "holy smelly buttockska!". Not making fun of the Russian language, of course, but that is another item I’m hoping receives a major overhaul in a future patch.

Regardless those issues, Silent Heroes delivers some very respectable gameplay for an RTS. If and when a couple of patches get added, I can see this game being worth more than it’s cost very easily.

Armchair General Rating: 71%

45/60 – Gameplay
15/20 – Graphics
08/10 – Sound
03/10 – Documentation and Technical

Pros: Very good graphics, sound and a control scheme help to strengthen some satisfying gameplay.

Cons: No multiplayer, no tutorial, and other blatant errors that boggle the mind as to how they made it into the game without being corrected.

Bottom Line: Silent Heroes is one World War II RTS with lots of action and fun to be had, but it could have been so much more.


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1 Comment

  1. those bastards bought this cool russian game but forgot to buy license for multiplayer… facepalm