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Silent Storm, known commonly as S2, is a turn-based tactical simulator set during the Second World War. The game is played in a 3D environment, and was one of the first Tactical Turn-Based games to feature fully-rotatable 3D graphics. This sort of design allowed for a fully-destructible environment, and this was used to great effect with a large variety of explosives.
The story puts the player in the shoes of a crack commando operative working for either the Allies or the Axis. Put in charge of Special Operations-SE2 or Abwehr Section 2 respectively, you must assemble a small squad of the best operatives available to your faction. Together, you work to counter the enemy's intelligence efforts and uncover the double-agents supplying information to them. However, you quickly discover that a third party is behind everything, and that they have infiltrated both the Allies and the Axis. As the plot evolves, you discover that this "third party" is in fact an international terrorist organization called the Thor's Hammer Organization (THO), who are working to develop a super-weapon that would allow them to rule the world after the Allies and Axis have beaten each other to a bloody pulp.
As with many other games of the genre, your commandos gain levels in various skills, and each has his own specialty and abilities which can be capitalized upon. There are 6 classes available, the Sniper, the Soldier, the Grenadier, the Engineer, the Medic and the Scout. The game features a slew of different WWII weapons, all realistically modeled and are spectacular to fire within the 3D environment. The combination of 3D gameplay with an engrossing character-development system and reasonable plot were enough to ensure excellent reviews. In fact, due partly to the commonly low-quality of Turn-Based Tactics games created in the 2000's, Silent Storm is perhaps that genre's only real commercial success in that period.
It received a expansion pack called Silent Storm: Sentinels (or S3), which picked up the storyline a year after the end of the war. Thor's Hammer has been beaten back, and with the end of the war, the various organizations involved in fighting a war suffered from staff cutbacks. Some became criminals, taking what they wanted with surplus weaponry and their honed combat skills. Others banded together, creating an agency called the Sentinels, consisting of elite operatives from both the former Allied and Axis powers. Someone appears to be interested in the military legacy of the Third Reich, attempting to obtain blueprints and examples of prototype weaponry. That's where you come in; a veteran of the war, the Sentinels are interested in recruiting you to find out what is really going on. You wake up in the basement of a house in Poland...
Retaining many of the gameplay elements from S2, it also adds several new mechanics, in addition to tweaks to several existing ones. Weapons now have a durability stat, and may jam or misfire if it gets low enough. As the Sentinels are not a government-funded organization, its agents have to pay money for their equipment and to hire additional operatives, rather than being issued or assigned to them for free.
An officially sanctioned mod was released commercially as Hammer & Sickle. Set in the same universe as S2 and S3, it takes place in 1949 during the Cold War. Put in the shoes of an undercover Soviet agent in the British-American sector of occupied Germany, the player must unveil a tangled web of intrigue and conspiracy, as well as thwart the machinations of an old enemy. They must tread carefully, however, for their actions may spark World War III...
Marketed as a Tactical RPG, it completely reworks the game mechanics. Battles are now far more lethal, a weight limit has been implemented and clothing is no longer just cosmetic, to name a few.
This series contains examples of:
- BFG: The heavy weapons category, including machine guns and rocket launchers.
- Blown Across the Room: Can be caused by explosives or high powered firearms.
- Boom! Headshot!: Present in all the games. A hard to hit target, but it causes more damage than shooting the torso, and can inflict some of the nastiest crits in the game. Taken Up to Eleven in S3, as headshot kills remove the head.
- Breakable Weapons: Introduced in S3.
- Bullethole Door: Most firearms can blast their way through a wooden door with ease, though tougher doors may necessitate higher caliber weapons. This method of entry can be required in some cases, especially if explosives have blown a crucial part of the scenery away (see Everything Breaks).
- Chunky Salsa Rule: Explosives can turn the enemy into a red mist.
- Combat Medic: Medics, while not usually required to, are able to use any weapon in the game, up to and including machine guns and rocket launchers. They also have a decent Snipe and Melee skill rating, second only to the Sniper and Scout respectively, and have a perk branch dedicated to melee combat.
- Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Bullets can still penetrate and hit, depending on the object used as cover. Most rifles and machine guns are even able to shoot through walls.
- This can be abused: use a hidden spotter to locate the enemy, then eliminate them with indirect fire through the walls. The AI won't return fire if it can't see where it's being shot at from.
- Cool Guns: All of the World War II-era guns on the lists, and a few from just after it.
- Critical Hit: These can range from causing the character to bleed to blindness and deafness, all the way up to instant death. Some of the classes have perks that affect these, whether inflicted on or by the enemy. The Sniper has a very popular perk that always causes critical hits with any ranged weapon, up to and including machine guns.
- Diesel Punk: It doesn't start out like this. See Unexpected Genre Change below.
- Do Anything Soldier: While they won't be as good at it, any member of your squad can do the same things as your specialists.
- Everything Breaks: And how! Some explosives can take out a large chunk of the environment, making some areas of the map completely unreachable. This can sometimes be solved, however, by using even MORE explosives.
- Executive Meddling: Which led to the appearance of the Panzerkleins and the Unexpected Genre Change.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: Usually averted, except in the first mission of S3.
- Grid Inventory/Inventory Management Puzzle: One of the low points in the game. It was slightly rectified in the expansion. Slightly.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Gator's voice is very similar to Jagged Alliance 2's Wolf.
- Hit Points: Called Vitality Points, merely dropping it to zero is a Non-Lethal KO (for your characters); drop it far enough into the minus (usually by tossing a grenade at someone already out-cold) and the target will die permanently.
- Healing Potion: Averted. Regardless of whether you're in combat or not, VPs are restored over time and it immobilizes both the healer and the patient until it's done. More specifically, the healer can't do anything else while the patient can turn and shoot normally, but cannot move or change stances.
- Hollywood Silencer: There are several silenced weapons available (there are even silenced sniper rifles which, in the hands of a Sniper with the "Always Inflict Ranged Critical" perk, are downright deadly). Shooting these while hidden won't automatically reveal your location, though you may still get spotted if an enemy is looking your way. On the other hand, they deal less damage than their regular counterparts and tend to be rather rare.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: The British and German Red Shirts/Mooks in S2 tend to wield weapons from the other Allies/Axis-aligned nations in high-level Random Encounters. Whilst the British can be partially justified by Lend-Lease (American equipment only), there's no real reason for the Germans to be equipped with Italian weapons.
- Infinity+1 Sword: Several in S2, the Prototype 8M1, the Sea Devil Scoped and the Katana.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The Katana is the best (and rarest) melee weapon in S2 and S3. Justified, as the other melee weapons primarily consist of knives.
- Kick the Dog: One of the missions in S3 has you visit a Soviet gulag to gather intel. Incidentally, the prisoners rebel against the guards and take up arms. You're allied with the guards. Depending on your level of historical knowledge/sensitivity, this is anywhere from distasteful to pointlessly cruel.
- Level Grinding: Primarily in S3, and mostly for money rather than improving your characters. You can redo the "random" encounters over and over again to get the enemy's gear, either for actual use or for their monetary value (since sufficient money is relatively hard to come by). In the process, your squad will gain some skill and XP, but there are Anti-Grinding mechanisms in place to make sure you can't advance much beyond the optimal level for the next main-story mission.
- More Dakka: The Panzerkleins carry a LOT of firepower, and there are no problems with fully automatic fire for regular submachine guns and machine guns as well.
- Multinational Team: The special forces team the player assembles is manned by soldiers of various Allied/Axis-aligned nations. A few are from Allied/Axis-linked countries and ditched them due to neutrality/"own country being a douche in standing up for itself"/"I think the Allied/Axis forces can help my own country be free" issues. For example, there's an Irishwoman who joined the Axis due to the British executing her father as he played a major role in the Easter Rebellion in Ireland back in 1916.
- Multiple Endings: S3 has two, depending on which version of the final mission you choose. H&S takes this Up to Eleven.
- Narm: Most of the voice acting.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in S2 - you can play as the Axis. However, the game remains largely the same regardless of which side you pick, as you wind up primarily battling Thor's Hammer anyway.
- Possibly averted in H&S, depending on whether or not you think the Soviets are 'Wicked'.
- Numbered Sequel: Played with in a way. The first game is called S2, and there is no S1. The main reason for this is because an abbreviated form of the game's title, Silent Storm, would be "SS". Subsequently, the expansion's title, which contained three words beginning with S, was abbreviated as S3 to preserve the same scheme, despite being neither a sequel nor the third game produced in the series.
- Old Soldier: Some of the characters you can get on your squad, who are usually veterans of the First World War as well.
- One Bullet Clips: While the bullets in each clip and magazine are tracked, reloading only takes as many bullets as the gun needs from them.
- Random Encounter: While moving your team around on the world map (between the main missions), "encounter warning" areas often pop up randomly in your vicinity and disappear a short while later. You can actually CHOOSE to have an encounter by moving your squad to that area. Some encounters can net you some great equipment (and can be farmed for money in S3). Sometimes (by fluke), an encounter zone will appear right underneath your squad as it moves, causing the encounter to trigger immediately like a classic Random Encounter.
- Some of these encounters are incredibly rare, and tend to have equipment that cannot be obtained any other way. S3 takes this further, with one that allows you to get a free squad member.
- Rare Guns: Both the FG42 and the STG44 (mistakenly called the STG-43 in-game).
- Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Averted. Weapon ranges are quite realistic - even submachine guns can shoot across the smaller maps, and that's not getting into rifles. Good luck hitting anything at that distance, though.
- Shouting Shooter: Every character becomes this if ordered to fire a machine gun from the hip on full auto.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: This game has gasoline-powered armored exoskeletons with laser weapons (mostly developed in Switzerland, but Germany is shown producing them as well). The Final Boss in S2 takes the aforementioned exoskeleton and adds a jetpack, making it a partially literal example.
- Shout-Out: During one extremely rare Random Encounter in Switzerland, the team finds a crater with a UFO in it. In the vicinity, the Prototype 8M1 laser rifle can be found, the only fully-automatic energy weapon in the game. The rifle looks exactly like the Laser Rifle from X-COM: Enemy Unknown.
- Trial and Error Gameplay: The "Act of Terrorism" mission in S3 is virtually impossible to complete without several run-throughs. Your men have to be split correctly between two entry points, and carry exactly the right type of weapons to take out several enemies within the space of about two or three turns once they charge through the doors.
- Unexpected Genre Change: The game puts a lot of emphasis on realism, evident by its highly detailed and authentic weaponry and the well-crafted environments of the English countryside and war-torn Europe. Then, about three-quarters of the way through, the Panzerkleins appear. This is so jarring that most players download a mod to turn this off completely.
- Unfortunate Implications: Intentionally averted by the publisher, who chose the short title "S2" instead of just abbreviating the full title.
- Useless Useful Stealth: The Scout class can sneak about rather well, but as with most Turn-Based games this usually gets you killed. However, once you discover how many knives and shuriken you can throw in a single turn or obtain silenced firearms, neither of which break stealth, everything changes.
- We Cannot Go on Without You: Any member of your squad can be Killed Off for Real - but if it happens to your Player Character (i.e. the squad leader), it's game over.
- Your Head Asplode: Any ranged attack to the head (including throwing knives) can potentially cause this in S3.