First of the series Silent Hunter carried the tradition of classic Silent Service games - the simulation of American submarine during the World War 2 on Pacific, options to play single missions or full career.
Although Silent Hunter simulated the single battle and war patrols they were limited within designated area only, which means that f.e. mission around Philippines was limited to Philippines only and by reaching edge of the map was ending the patrol and sub was returning to base. Within the area there was full freedom for the captain - the orders were to attack enemy shipping in given sector without any restrictions, so choice between hunting enemy in the open sea or trying to sneak into the ports was entirely up to the user.
There were some weak points of the simulation, f.e. going undetected into Truk Atoll wasn’t any challenge at all and the Japanese destroyers usually were rather passive even when you sank their major warships. Not to mention that each time you entered Truk there were ALWAYS some aircraft carriers or battleships, so returning there each time you could have sunk 5 or 6 Yamato class battleships, while in reality there were only 2 built in history.
The graphic side of the game was rather good, steering the boat was no problem, although the emergency options were rather simple and there were no crew management options. Apart from that there was, like in following games, the progress in sub classes available and from time to time player could have been given command over new, better submarine, but with fresh crew (meaning green). Even after 20 years it still could be entertaining.