Sadly, it's not all blowjobs and handshakes.
1. Grenades are almost worthless in the hands of an unskilled practitioner (everybody except the grenadier). My Indian (Eastern) medic bounced a grenade off the edge of the doorway in which he was standing to have it ricochet behind him and nuke my machinegunner. At first you'll have trouble lofting the damn things over walls, and may well give up on them, but this is probably a mistake: grenadiers become effective pretty quickly: at least for things like clearing a room from just outside the doorway. Unfortunately, in what seems like a problem related to the v1.2 patch's reaming of skills (more below), most other characters will have trouble throwing the more destructive grenades far enough to escape their blast radius. This is not so hot. I still used them to make the movement from points A to B more direct, but rarely to clear a crowd.
|Welcome to Page Two. Whoa, headshot!! ^__^
2. Inside buildings grenade behavior is very mixed. I've had trouble blowing down doors on which I've scored direct hits with grenades, even leaving the Nazi on the far side ready to pounce through and attack, while on one mission I used a (very) heavy grenade, which blew out three stories of the building into which I threw it, catapulting all nature of shit into the basement, where I rained fire down on it from my assembled forces. A tactical nuclear weapon wouldn't have been much more effective. I suggest autosaving at first until you learn the ropes. In fact, all explosive damage is very erratic, such that Panzerfausts and Piats are basically not worth their substantial consumption of your inventory. Not being able to blow people up with rockets is quite a disappointment.
3. Enemies whose positions you haven't exactly figured out, but maybe you can hear them, are represented by a sort of outline. I've had problems where I've actually been standing on these outlines and not seen the enemy, yet have them stand up on their turn (pushing my guy away) and fuck me over. This is quite rare, but might occasionally occur. Autosave.
4. Almost *almost*, this game has been completely bugfree. However, in one particular mission, about every three minutes I would hit some null pointer dereference and get kicked out. I was very close to the end of this very long mission when it occurred, so I endured through about two dozen or more crashes to finish the mission (it was about 2 hours of real time, maybe 6 or 7 game turns), and it's never reoccurred, but it did happen. Outside of that, in perhaps 80 hours of total gameplay: no problems at all.
5. The difficulty makes a step change. At first the enemies are mostly toys: they don't avoid you, they aren't particularly good shots, and so on. It's not trivial, but it's not bad. Then, oops, they starting bursting entire clips into your noggin from inches away and ducking behind trees and lobbing grenades at you. It's much better, but much harder. Then you get Panzerkliens, which breaks the balance again.
Ah yes, Panzerkliens. This is a Mech, circa the WW II era. Kliens are essentially immune to standard weaponry, and so because I did the first klien mission out of order (there are recommendations and missions typically play out in story order, but there is some choice in which mission to play at any given time), I ended up wading through German troops, bouncing them off trees and shooting them through brick walls like a parody of a Hong Kong action movie, Murder Death Killer Professional or something.
|And here is what a klien (oh yeah, and some other guys) can do to a couple of heavy machinegunners holed up in a house: make them even more holed up. The rifle on the ground is from some guy Zinaidi sniped backwards through a second story window (that might be his body at the very top of the screen).
Eventually the enemy gets Kliens too, but if you have Klien-killing weaponry, they're almost absurdly easy to kill due to their relative immobility (about a fifth or less of what an unencumbered person can achieve). You simply shoot and scoot. And because of Klien immobility, I always had scouts out ahead of my own Kliens, so I never experienced Klien-on-Klien action for more than an instant. I expect it would be deadly dull.
6. Oh the patch! If you play the US/UK version with release v1.2 (the only one released to US retailers, as far as I know), then the skills of characters in your party advance at a snail's pace compared to those you don't hire. If you find yourself wondering why the hell you can't use certain pieces of medical or engineering equipment after five or six missions, it's because the skill advancements you should have been making: you ain't. Oddly, even with quite substantially crap shooting skills compared to their non-hired compatriots, all the killers in my squad seemed very effective: I wouldn't have noticed it except for a check on the non-hired list I did while writing this review. However, that's probably only because engineers are basically worthless and I play too cautiously to take so much damage that advanced medical technology is necessary.
It still sucks, though, and though the patch that caused this behavior was released November 28th, 2003, there doesn't appear to be a fix.
7. The later missions are all of the assault and retrieve variety. There are no more standoffs or reinforcement/cavalry jaunts: it's all, go here, kill everybody, retrieve the doohickey, with only one or maybe two exceptions. After the gratuitous use of a sidecar machinegun in the first mission, never again will there be any use of emplaced weaponry (on normal difficulty, at least). The final two or three missions, which should be leading to a thrilling conclusion (if you've been paying any attention to the story: I only had a vague recollection of what I should be doing by that point) were instead quite dull slogs with some annoying and obvious gotchas thrown in to increase difficulty: i.e., a warehouse filled with explosives ready to be set off by any stray shot, yet filled with civilians that cannot come to harm under any circumstances. Yeah: thanks Mr. Developer.
And the developers themselves, in an overview to the final mission, directly *admit* that it's completely unnecessary, with something to the effect of "Yeah, we could easily use heavy bombers to destroy this target, but we're giving you the honor of blah blah blah...". The fuck, over? Yeah, I can just see my battle weary group of veterans clapping their hands with glee over a chance to risk death again for NO GOOD REASON AT FUCKING ALL.
|Crates. Of course. A decent example of gameplay. Note the stacks and stacks of gasoline drums.
Honor! Like justice!
Have I mentioned that this final mission sucks? There must have been some deadline fast approaching that resulted in this miserable excuse for a tactical scenario. The mission's final showdown with the evil mastermind whom I didn't even remember existed or give a shit about, lasted exactly *two* turns, during which time I (1) shot her in the head (2) shot her in the head A LOT. W00t.
I really like this game's engine and the possibilities it offers. I enjoyed the promise and execution of the first several missions. I think the developers really fucked up when they designed the later missions and basically just left the game unfinished. Also, they should have tried to make the missions a more cohesive unit to drive some interest in their fantastical story about walking tanks. XCom and XCom2 added suspense and drive through their creation of mystery and the knowledge that, at any moment, a crab guy could pop through a door and blast you to pieces. Silent Storm never achieves that. It's very polished technically (by and large: fix the goddamn skill bug), it just needs someone to inject some soul.