I really enjoyed playing Silent Storm when it came out, and when a "sequel" using the same engine was announced I was happy. Then the game just faded away into obscurity, and I forgot all about it until I saw Hammer & Sickle on the shelf at Fry's for $10.
So, is this a sequel to Silent Storm?
Kinda. Not really. The game relies heavily on the Silent Storm engine, and combat is very much the same, and the character leveling system is the same. There's some obvious asset reuse: some character models and voices are the same (including a white guy named Andrew who uses Nessie's voice clips, even the ones where he calls himself Nessie). There are some improvements, though. Instead of having to scour a level after killing all the bad guys, just click the "Loot" button to access a menu with everything lying on the ground in the entire map, ready for you to pick and choose and stuff your backpacks with. Characters will complain about being pack mules: "Oh yes, stick an anvil in there too, and I'll topple over and we'll all have a good laugh." There's a weight system in place, in which the amount of stuff a character carries determines how much AP they get every turn. Apparently it's much more about being a spy than being a commando, which is why you need cash, a place to stay, some black-market contacts, and a bunch of goons willing to give their all to wrest Germany back into the Motherland's red embrace. Fortunately, "spy" can also mean "saboteur," and so you'll have plenty of opportunities to shoot new and interesting people.
Wait, why isn't this Silent Storm 2?
It doesn't have anything to do with the plot, I think; I haven't gotten that far yet. Well, aside from "WWII is now over" being sequel-fodder. You play as a Soviet spy who sneaks into West Germany in 1949 to perform various nefarious activities. Anyway, so far there's less squad combat, and I'm hopelessly outnumbered all the time. Your main character is much more of a character than in SS. You'll have dialogue options and decisions to make besides who to shoot next. Besides him, I only have one other party member - a former Hitler Youth named Larry who calls me "Mein Fuher" and is a damn decent rifleman, despite his engineer class.
There's still shit blowing up, right?
Sure. Grenades o'plenty. In fact, the very first real mission almost requires some high explosives - you start out
Sneaking into West Germany to contact a possible conspirator, only to turn the corner about ten feet behind five guys who just dragged him up against a wall and shot him. Better hope you throw well.
Walls crumble, windows shatter, and physics damage is really purty.
Okay. You've convinced me. Why does everyone look wierd?
There's this odd seam that goes around people's jawlines. As near as I can figure, it's because everyone's head is a seperate model, which allows their cranium to blow up if you kill them with a headshot, and their now-headless corpse slumps over (or flies, depending on how hard you hit them) making an appreciable mess all over the place.
Nice. Got any tips?
Nope. Like I said, I'm not that far. The reason for this is that the game is ball-bustingly difficult.
My two pistol-packing guys against 8 people with Lewis Mk IIs, who all get interrupts when I fire one shot at them? Sure, that's fair. Dropping my crew, who are loaded down like packmules, into a story encounter along a road and starting them both off with 0 AP until I spend a turn throwing everything in their inventories on the ground? Sweet, thanks. Enemies who score critical hits like crazy, making my guys blind, crippled, drop their weapons, and stun them? Yes, please. Starting me off next to a truck full of dynamite, which means that even if the enemies do miss, there's a good chance my entire team will blow up anyway when they hit the truck? Okay.
Christ. I want to like this game, but it's kicking me over and over. Tell me I'm not alone here.