Sunday, March 13, 2011
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Pirates is a fairly interesting game, it's sort of a dumbed down simulation game compared to any other Sid Meier game. However it is still quite fun and pretty varied from time to time. You'll mostly fight ship battles but if you like you can fight on ground strategic battles to capture ports as much as you like and perform dancing minigames to win the hand of Governors' daughters (which you can apparently switch between at will with no consequence). You can even take down legendary pirates and steal their ships which are some of the best in the game.
Ship combat is simple enough, maneuver around an opponent and try to knock out their sails before boarding, a combination of guns and maneuverability wins the day typically. Some ships are pretty much invincible on normal difficulty like the Frigates and Ships of the Line (which is absurdly rare to find) so once you get a really good ship it's pretty simple to annihilate every ship in the Caribbean. I like that you can have various shots designed to do differing things to the enemy ship, ultimately sinking the opposing ship is a great waste of booty that you could just as easily sell to the harbor.
Once you board an opponent's ship you can take on the officer in a linear combat which is basically Rock Paper Scissors with some modifiers. It is absurdly difficult on harder difficulties, as are the rest of the minigames, but nearly trivial on normal. Ultimately I don't find quick time events to be all that entertaining so these ones being tuned poorly don't really aggravate me too much. You can get items to improve your odds of doing well but chances are you'll continuously fail at various things prior to dying of old age or losing your ship or something along those lines.
Invading opposing capitals is one of the most fun things to do in the game, you can bring your few hundred men against a few hundred to several hundred of theirs and it is quite possible to win the battles against vastly superior odds (with decent rewards), though it takes a few tries. The strategic battle music is great so I didn't mind redoing it a few times just to listen to it a bit more. Terrain and opposition are both random so you could get lucky and win easily even in pitched battles or you could get unlucky and fail repeatedly. It does still end with another duel with their commander which is just as annoying as ever.
Pirates! has a lot more things to do which are all sort of fun little minigames, while it lacks a bit of polish and balancing issues abound I still had a ton of fun initially playing it and while the replayability wears out after about 40 hours it's an entertaining and certainly unique experience meanwhile. Helping the various factions take down the Spanish while looting gold and whacking Blackbeard is a worthy adventure. I believe it's still bizarrely expensive but if you can get it for cheap I'd recommend buying it just for a nice, fairly short adventure game with a lot of variety and enjoyability. While the Pirate genre has lacked a particularly good video game as of yet this remains one of the best efforts thus far.
Final Score: 8/10