Hi People, I was lucky to receive my copy just as I came home today! (almost missed the post-guy).
1st off, if you have a machine that resembles mine (2gb, P4 2.4, 9600pro, 250gb HD), I advice to rent a movie to watch while installing, which took abt 1hr 45 minutes... (I do have the suspicion my dvd player is behaving dodgy lately) But I aint complaining - here's why:
The initial install might take long, BUT! loading time of the game (menu's, into mission etc.) is muchos faster then was with SH3 on my (by now way humble) rig.
I went into the 1st training mission ASAP, and found a beautifull game, but with horrid framerate (if you can call 2 frames a second a 'rate'). But ok, I got a (very) old card, so put everything as low as possible - more good news! Can change settings in-mission Not that it did much good: it's still pretty slow, but somewhat playable (the mouse is still a bit on the irresponsive side). This was a downer for me, since im not ready ($) to get a new rig... (but dont panic, read on, later I found it to be much more playable then I thought then - read on).
First some overall good news: even with everything (graphics settings) to low as possible this game ROCKS visually! (I'm skipping the AA debate here!, my card isnt fast enough for it in any game, so I dont miss it). I was sceptical before, expecting a reskinned SH3 with some minor enhancements, but (visuals), the overall 'feel' has greatly improved. I look forward to a new system already when the time comes!!! But for now, I'm already satisfied and very happy with what I see compared to SH3.
Moving into a 'single patrol', once out of port framerate (although not spectacular) went up so the game is pretty well playable on a minimum spec machine like mine (including when around a couple of ships). As long as you aint very near landmasses (and heaps of harbour traffix), playability is okay. (I am taking into account this aint an 'quick action game').
Plotted course well over to japan and went underway. Whoa yeah! 4096x compression, with the UI keeping more responsive then sh3's at 512x on my rig!!!! It even goes to about 8192x without the severe 'stalls' that SH3 showed at 1024x.
Underway, radiomsg's are pretty 'active' and intresting. At lower compressions, some neat things 'surface', like the watch system (just wait for the whistle ). I also notice the sound has improved in some area's although I still dont care too much for some of the voices, some 'voice acting' seems a bit over the top to my taste.
Bot oooohhh buy, rolling in heavy weather, the sound is great, deep thunder, and higher rolling waves then I ever remember seeing in Sh3. Planes roar like no other, etc.
Havent mastered all of the UI yet, but things seem o.k. although I find I have a bit of a harder time finding my way around as when I first received sh3. Maybe thats just me, and I did notice a lot of improvements as well, like the tabs on the sub-managment screen, the 'watch' system for the crew, just to name a few. Call me stupid, but I spend minutes searching to find out that rightclick on the magnifier is zoom-out on the map.... (admitting not having touched the manual yet...).
Well, I've read about several bugs, but so far encountered only one myself (no, havent tried the stadimeter yet) which was beeing run over by a destroyer (almost flipping my sub), not killing anyone on deck, minor damage to deck gun only, and sinking the destroyer... No looping sounds so far on my system, no CTD so far (fingers crossed).
Overall, im more pleased with it then I expected to be beforehandI was sceptical but now in no way disappointed, except for the performance of my own rig, but cant blame that on SH4, I'm quite happy they made it for the top-segment machines, because those will be the average ones within 6 to 12 months anyway.
SH4 brings more stuff then I expected (I expected kind of SH3 + 1 or 2 things). So far, the level of detail added to SH4 is amazing, textures (even on low), objects (even on low), and overall ambiance (like downed pilots swimming, crews busy on deck warships, etc. etc.) to much to list, there's so much more (compared to sh3) to see if you pay attention, even on the lowest settings.
Even though patches will likely be inevitable, so far I have a better feeling with SH4 then I initially did with SH3, lets hope that lasts!