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Silent Service was one of the first submarine simulator games and was created by the legendary Sid Meier. The game takes place in the Pacific Theater of World War II, with you playing as an American submarine captain hunting Japanese ships in the endless depths.
The game is controlled completely by keyboard commands, which can make it difficult to play, as all the keys function no matter what screen you are on. You can accidentally fire off torpedoes or start diving without realizing it. Except the intuitive arrow keys which allow you to turn around or submerge your submarine, the controls are rather complicated and make use of multiple key binds. You can find a short overview of them in the "Notes" section.
Your submarine can turn, surface, and dive very quickly, forcing you to pay close attention to these; otherwise you can turn too far, dive too deeply, or suddenly surface and expose yourself to enemy fire.
There are four difficulty settings you can select from each time you start a mission. You can also fine-tune those difficulty settings by making the enemy better or worse in different respects, giving yourself dud torpedoes, or simply reducing your visibility.
The graphics are simple 4-bit colors and square shapes, although the blue background around the periscope view makes it a bit difficult to focus on what you really need to see. A black color would have been better, both to aid in focusing and to make reading the information from your "Torpedo Targeting Data Computer" easier. The distance between you, ships, and the land is difficult to perceive. More than once I have beached my submarine or crashed into a ship simply because I thought I was farther away than I really was. Your map station can help with judging the distance.
Sounds are simple and static with no music, consisting of "pops", "engine noises" etc. but nothing of note.
Silent Service made ship and submarine simulators from the first-person perspective a viable gaming option. However, poor color choices and poor depth perception make navigation difficult once the battle has been joined. Anyone interested in this title would find the sequel, also on Abandonia, easier to play.
-F1 is the map, F2 is the bridge deck, F3 is the periscope, F4 is your instrument panel, F5 is your damage-control station, F6 is your mission log, and F8 quits your current mission.
-T fires a torpedo, G fires your deck gun.
-Up Arrow surfaces the submarine, Down Arrow causes your submarine to dive, Left Arrow starts your submarine turning Left, Right Arrow starts turning your submarine Right, 1 2 3 4 and 0 Keys change the speed of your submarine.
-The + and - keys change the elevation of your deck gun, and it will identify the ship that is within the center of your periscope if it is close enough.
-You can surface, dive, and turn faster by tapping the apporpriate key twice instead of once.
This game needs to run at 2000 cycles or less; otherwise it will be too fast for you to play.