S2: Silent Storm Retrospective

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has published a retrospective article on S2: Silent Storm, a tactical turn-based strategy set in an alternative slightly sci-fi version of World War II that was developed by the team at Nival Interactive. The way the game handled its destructible environments seems to be an aspect that particularly impressed the writer of the piece:

It relies entirely, then, on its tactical combat, and while I could praise the fetching, varied, and detailed environments this takes place in, the truth is that the appeal comes not from admiring but from absolutely demolishing them.

If you never really took advantage of the destructible buildings in UFO, and were perhaps baffled by how passionately some players celebrate them, Silent Storm will convert you. Every bullet leaves a permanent mark, and rarely only one. Everything breaks. Windows crack and shatter all round, furniture splinters noisily as doors are torn apart by gunfire and tables crushed by tumbling bodies. Floorboards are blasted apart, walls gradually fill with holes then give way. Clouds of dust kick up in the wake of huge explosions that rip open entire buildings across multiple floors. You know those WW2 films where the houses and cafés are already bombed out, and lurking soldiers make do with sheltering behind whatever's left? You get to cause that. There's a little faint guilt and horror, but the sheer joy of blasting is simply irresistible, and even for stealthy approaches the tactical benefits are too many.

In contrast to the relatively clean and predictable boardgame-inspired approach taken by Firaxis' XCOM, Silent Storm favours a simulationist approach to shooting. Instead of a binary hit/miss dictated by dice, each shot fired is an entity in the world. A bullet fired at a soldier might hit the crumpled body in front of your prone shooter. It might hit someone next to him. It might put a hole in a door, or go straight through his belly (causing him to reflexively squeeze off a round and topple off a balcony) and shatter a window, then hit a stash of explosives and blow away half the building. I've watched a patrolman take a potshot at my scout and miss, but the sniper I'd hidden behind her was blinded by the ricochet.