Where things aren't so hot
SH4 does have a few failings even after this latest patch, however. For starters, the interface is a step back on several levels. In Silent Hunter III I got moderately good at calculating targeting data through the faux-manual system therein. In Wolves of the Pacific, it is a real hassle and though for a while I simply fudged numbers, eventually I gave up and let the automatic firing solution do the work for me. The interface uses some toggle-switch icons that are never clear as to whether they're off or on. Did I just raise or lower the periscope? It took me a while to figure that out. Worse, the periscope apparently has only two positions – fully extended and fully retracted. It cannot be set to skim just above the surface on a calm day, nor can it be extended further in rough seas. Perhaps this is a historical limitation. Either way, extending the periscope is not what one would consider intuitive.
The game includes a button to dive to periscope depth, though though that depth is marked in red on the dive indicator. Fair enough, right? No harm in redundancy, goes the saying. Not until you realize that the same icon is also used for silent running, at a different station in the game.
Another fun job is trying to set torpedo depth. The depth, like salvo angle, is set by a dial. The difficulty is in getting the dial to the position you'd require. For some reason the game's attempt at approximating the spinning of a dial with the mouse is quite erratic. Pin-pointing a depth takes more effort than it should. Also, the torpedo interface in general has a bizarre fetish for click-to-open menus. Would you like to see how fast the ship is going? You need to open that menu. Or would you prefer to adjust your torpedo settings? Can't have both open at the same time. The ship ID book isn't any better, it opens and closes by clicking a small icon on the bottom bar. Given how necessary the book is, especially for manual targeting, one would think easy access to it would be important. Alas, ease of use clearly wasn't a design priority.
The interface is never outright bad, it's just usually worse than what Silent Hunter III had or at least didn't improve on that game's issues. Take torpedo loading for example – in SH3 they were clicked and dragged one by one into torpedo bays, same thing here. Map controls are actually inferior – now the player has to pick out the eraser from the protractor and compass and pencil, all tightly clustered together in one corner, rather than using the old drop-down menu.
Minor graphical glitches do exist but rarely affect gameplay. One fairly significant problem occurs when manning certain anti-aircraft guns. The camera clips through the sides of the conning tower, which prevents aiming at certain angles. This can be anything from a minor nuisance to a career-ending bug, depending on how effective or lucky the bomber attacking your sub is.
Other game issues are just bizarre. Radar is more of a curse than a blessing, for example. It will constantly knock the player out of time compression because of radar contact warnings, especially near a harbor. Since ending a patrol requires being physically close to the fleet harbor, this is a tedious and annoying warning. Supposedly radar has an on/off switch, but this doesn't work. It can be clicked dozens of times to no effect.
There are some crash bugs as well, though fewer than in earlier releases. Supposedly there also exists a bug with the Gato class submarines, where after three patrols the player's character is automatically fired from his post for inadequate performance. However, this reviewer has never survived far enough from the start of the 1941 campaign to earn a Gato.