Silent Hunter III

Moby ID: 17098
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Description official descriptions

In Silent Hunter III players take command of a German U-Boat (submarine), operating in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. The player will lead a captain’s career that begins in a year of their choice, from 1939 to 1944, assigned to the flotilla of their choice, which influences the player's initial base and submarine type. After these choices, the dynamic campaign takes over, and time progresses at a steady pace, while the player and the AI wage war against Britain and its allies both on the sea and under it.

There are four main types of U-Boat (II, VII, IX, and XXI) along with several variants of each sub. Along with the different sub types, there are different armaments that are able to be mounted on/in the submarine, such as the deck gun and the flak cannon, as well as differing types of torpedoes, hydrophones, engines, batteries, etc. Depending on what stage of the war they're in, players will have access to different levels of technology and submarine augmentations. Successes at sea will also determine the upgrades that players can make.

Players can award their crew with medals and promotions, each of whom carry over and improve from mission to mission, provided that they survive (and that the submarine itself returns from its patrol). Sailors can specialize in certain elements of the submarine, and while they are working in those areas (e.g. torpedo rooms, engine rooms, etc), the performance of that part of the submarine will be supplemented by their skill. The crew will tire over the course of each 1-2 week patrol, and careful management is sometimes required so that manpower isn't lacking when the pressure is on. Death can come from aircraft in the sky, destroyers on the sea, or even the sea itself.

Simply put, this game is a WW2 naval submarine simulator, supplemented with pixel shading graphics technology in an attempt to provide a more realistic ocean and game world. The simulation’s damage model is intricate, and depending on where players land their torpedoes and deck cannon fire (and what part of the ship that's target), they will be met with varying results, ranging from light flooding of the ship to completely splitting the ship in two. The plague of dud torpedoes is modeled as well, so even if a hit is scored, it might simply be met with a loud ‘clang’.

As with most modern simulators, Silent Hunter III allows the player to enable or disable certain options that make parts of the game either easier or harder. These options range from the visual stability of the periscope in high seas, easier targeting, what cameras can be used (including forced first-person), even whether the submarine has an infinite amount of diesel fuel. Because of this ability to tweak the realism, more casual players need not be chased off by the heavy simulation elements.


  • 猎杀潜航III - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 獵殺潛航 3 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

142 People (127 developers, 15 thanks) · View all

Studio Manager
Lead Game Design
Game Design
Sound Design & Audio FX Production
Lead Graphics
3D Graphics
Animation & Characters
2D Graphics
Visual FX
Art Director
Programmer: Simulation & AI
Programmer: GDS 3D Engine
Lead Programmer
[ full credits ]



Average score: 88% (based on 30 ratings)


Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 1 reviews)

A Good Simulator... With a Grab-bag of Bad Thrown In

The Good
This is a seriously pretty game. Even though I began playing it 4 years after release, I was impressed by the visuals. The team that put this together wanted it to look good, and they succeeded. When you leave harbor on a campaign mission, a dockside navy band plays stirring martial music while an assortment of nurses and dockyard guards wave you away. A pretty nurse throws roses to the departing U-boat. While these figures look somewhat Lego-ish if you zoom in on them, they are animated smoothly and present quite a show with dozens of them in action at once. And if you take your camera far away from dockside, there are still interesting vignettes to discover. The world is not just your U-boat. At sea, the waves have natural motion, the sky takes on a broad palette of expressions, and even the moon rises and sets. The models of the Allied merchantmen and warships are as detailed as the 1/2400 scale pewter miniatures I use in wargaming. Cargo ships on their way to the bottom emit streams of bubbles, strew cargo crates, and have masts and derricks broken from their decks, and when they hit bottom they raise a plume of mud. I delight in taking screen shots to display just how realistic this game looks.

The game lets you tailor your experience, choosing realism levels that suit your abilities and interests. If you choose to let the game do your torpedo targeting, it will lay the fish dead amidships on a non-maneuvering target nearly every time. Or you can use target portraits at various angles to estimate the angle of your approach and do your own targeting with your estimates of angle, speed, and distance.

One item I get a kick out of is the tools for the map. An aircraft (presumably) radios in a contact report on a distant ship, giving a time, estimate of speed and direction, and an approximate location. I love working out my intercept vector, given whatever speed I can muster, and end up finding that ship inside three or four kilometers from where I expected after a two game-hour run. The ruler and compass lets you graphically work these intercepts out without much trouble (and a little math!) I wish, though, the map would indicate an approximate visual range in the existing weather. There is no way to know what parameters the game uses for visual sighting.

The Bad
One problem with this game is its insistence that you be the U-boat's nanny... not its captain. You think you have an XO who will see to the regulation of your crew's shifts so that everyone is awake enough to do their job? Think again. And again. When you suddenly sight a closing enemy destroyer and crash dive, and your boat's propellers whir to a stop just after submerging because everyone is asleep in the electric motor compartment - you've just been stabbed by the game. There is no excuse even for a realistic simulator to make you personally manage 51 souls on board to make sure each of them is fed, rested, and has gone to the head. After each successful patrol, you get a handful of medals, promotions, and qualifications to hand out. Pinning an Iron Cross on a guy improves his attention span, believe it or not, so you'll have to send him to quarters for rest less often. By your tenth patrol, everybody has promotions and a chestful of decorations, so it's less onerous... but then you're blind-sided because you expected SOMEBODY would reload that torpedo tube and nobody jumped to it. Unacceptable!

Another issue with your minions is having to repeatedly ask for information because your attention is on the map screen (see below about time compression). I wish someone would report a CHANGE in the weather to me, but no, I have to keep asking, or go to the bridge, which dumps my time compression. And, hey! If you make a mistake and draw a course through a small island or peninsula, no one warns you you're going aground - you just do it! Your bad!

Do you want to live through every moment of every patrol? You can! (You will.) In good simulator fashion, you must find your targets on the ocean; they do not line up in a shooting gallery. Ubisoft is commended for not making your patrol unreasonably target-rich. On some patrols you may see only one or two ships. That's perfectly reasonable. But you invest hours of your gaming time in a nonproductive patrol and feel unfulfilled. Sure, there's time compression up to 1024-to-1 to speed up the dreary slogs to your patrol station. The game will drop the compression when you encounter a ship. But beware! It may not drop you out of hypertime if aircraft sight you, and I've been bombed to the bottom by aircraft that only advertised their presence by your "stealth indicator" suddenly flashing red. Losing your patrol to this makes me mad, especially because THERE IS NO AUTOSAVE. It's easy to run up a string of well-fought fights, forgetting to save off, and get whacked by the game. I was once crisscrossing an area in a storm where I calculated I'd find a ship, based on an earlier sighting, and got rammed by it and sunk because my multiple lookouts didn't see 8,000 tons of steel coming their way (in such fights, you spend your time on the map screen, NOT the bridge, because you have to maneuver frequently to quarter an area, and anyway, compressing time while in the bridge view is unacceptable in weather, due to sped-up wave action). That's all well and good - but I don't intend to terminate my captain's career because his lookouts were asleep. So I resort to the last save point. Presto! Brilliant patrol erased. Last night I was refreshing my acquaintance with the game to prepare to write this. After two hours, I had had extraordinary luck in downing two destroyers and five merchantmen (two by deck gun), and a British bomber found me, at night, in heavy seas, 200 km offshore, and sank me - boom! Guess what? No backup. Patrol never happened. This game needs an autosave!

While many of the simulation aspects seem well-done to me, one thing doesn't that is very important. YOU can be sunk by progressive damage, if your damage-control team lets leaks get ahead of them. But it doesn't seem to work that way for merchantmen. I have put two solids hits on, say, a C3 cargo ship under the keel. (That often splits a ship.) There are nice fires going, pieces of above-deck equipment have fallen flaming into the water, the ship slows and... keeps going. Just to check, I have lingered in the vicinity of badly-hit merchantmen for hours. The fires burn, the ship keeps chugging. Wow! I would have thought merchant seamen would head for lifeboats when their hull was opened to the sea. I have even tried ramming a damaged ship to take it down. (If it's too choppy to man your deck gun and you're out of torpedoes, you don't have much choice.) No dice. I'm attaching a screen shot of a Ship That Would Not Die. It was down by the stern, dead in the water. I repeatedly rammed it without effect (I took no damage either.) Then I was inspired to see if I could ride up on the awash deck and force it under. I got astride that ship, but darn if it didn't hold my U-boat up just fine. Finally I reversed off and left it.

Did you catch that piece about time compression? The only place you're going to be while your sim runs at high speeds is the map screen. (The bridge view bounces badly at compressions above 2 and the max compression in bridge view is highly limited.) So nearly all of your patrol will be watching featureless ruled paper while your little circle (U-boat) crawls along the course you've plotted. All the beauty packed into the camera views is out of sight for most of your encounter with this game, and that's a pity.

You will need to refer to the target handbooks next to the periscope to identify your prey. Unfortunately, the titles are in German in the English version, so if you haven't studied German (I have), good luck finding what you're looking for. I would prefer there to be one handbook with the ships of all enemy nations in it. Anything not matching can then be assumed neutral or friendly.

One final gripe and then I'll leave off. Your missions are always of the form "go out to this map square and swan about a while, then come home." There is no rationale given for WHY you are going there. You almost never see anything there - so if you were being sent to intercept a convoy it would have made sense to tell you WHEN to be there. But your orders amount to "go there if and when you feel like it." I've had no reprimands for returning without visiting the map square, though I usually am a good troop and go there, damage permitting. So the game needs to give you a better reason for burning all that diesel fuel. If you collect some prizes on the way and radio back a patrol report, you always get a response "keep up the good work!" To be a viable simulator, you need to have a sense that you're affecting Germany's war effort in a positive way. Without better intelligence from HQ, you're back in an arcade, not a simulator.

The Bottom Line
Overall, I play this game because I like submarine actions and I don't have a better game. By version 3 of this series, I expected my quibbles above would be smoothed out. Version 5 came out recently and online reviews are panning it. I guess this developer is just working on the eye candy and not fixing the fun.

Windows · by Professor (105) · 2010


1001 Video Games

Silent Hunter III appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


The development team enlisted the aid of Jürgen Oesten (born 1913), a WW2 U-Boat Ace, to give the simulation that extra bit of authenticity. Segments of the interview with Oesten were made available to the public on the Silent Hunter III website to generate enthusiasm for the game, leading up to its release in March.

European version

In the European version, all swastikas were removed.


Silent Hunter III was one of the first Ubisoft titles to use the controversial StarForce 3 protection. Users who use virtual drives like Daemon Tools or burning software like Nero would encounter problems running the game.

Torpedoschule Murwik

In the tutorial the player learns some lessons at the Torpedoschule Murwik. This place really existed. On the same naval base existed from 1888 the Naval Academy of the Kaiser. Since this time every officer of the German navy is educated at this place. Today the complex is called Marineschule Mürwik. Since 1957 the officers of the German navy have been qualified at this place. More information can be found on Wikipedia.


  • Computer Games Magazine
    • March 2006 - #3 PC Game of the Year 2005
  • GameSpy
    • 2005 – #10 PC Game of the Year
    • 2005 – PC Simulation of the Year

Information also contributed by JimmyA, Karthik KANE and PCGamer77.


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Bet.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added March 30, 2005. Last modified January 22, 2024.