One of the very few "interactive movies" that I really enjoy, Silent Steel from Tsunami is one of the best games made during the period of "full-motion video fad" that gripped the adventure genre between 1995 and 1999 - the fad of using live actors in digitized videos before the rise of 3D graphics technology in late 1990s. The game is a 100% full-motion video driven "interactive movie" that features excellent production values, an excellent and exciting plot, and - surprisingly - great acting that rivals classic film Hunt for the Red October in authenticity and skill. Billed as an "Intelligent Motion Picture" (IMP) release, the original game spanned four CD-ROM discs, was relatively well received with over 100,000 units sold. It was re-released on DVD-ROM format in 1996 - the first interactive DVD movie ever made. |
The premise of Silent Steel is similar to most modern submarine simulations: the trouble is brewing thanks to a few cantankerous countries that threaten the free world, and your sub has been assigned custodial duty. As captain of one of the world's most powerful submarines, you must make the right choices to stay alive and sink enemy subs that stand in your way.
The gameplay is very simple: every few minutes or so the movie will pause, giving you three choices to make. The game then branches off toward different resolutions, depending on your choices. There is only one "right" path that will get you to the best ending - which is basically the only ending in which your sub isn't blown to bits by enemy torpedo ;) Despite this restrictive gameplay, Silent Steel is a lot of fun because the acting is consistently good, and the choices always relevant to the situation. In trying to think as a real sub captain would do, the 'right' choice is not always obvious - being too cautious will get you killed, while asking your XO or the (very funny) Master Chief for advice too many times comes at a price. Sometimes you won't realize that a choice you made earlier is "wrong" until it is too late, and part of the fun in Silent Steel lies in watching the wrong - but always logical - endings, and figuring out where it went wrong.
Despite gameplay limitations, Silent Steel works as a great interactive movie - mostly because it was very well acted and directed. Tsunami spent a lot of money on making the movie feel like a typical Hollywood production, and it shows. It made me feel like a star in a gripping Tom Clancy movie - and I cannot think of a higher praise. All in all, a very worthy game that will satisfy every adventure gamer and movie lover, and a proud evidence that FMV games CAN work if done the right way. Highly recommended!
Note: The buy link here leads to the DVD-ROM version, which is easier to find on Amazon.com and elsewhere. If you are looking for the original 4-disc CD-ROM versions, look on EBay.
Reviewed by: Underdogs