Sid Meier’s Pirates! (PC)

By Gavin "Blayd" Keating

Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 7.50
Gameplay: 9.50
Replays: 9.00

I was kind of worried about this game before I began to play it. Sid Meier is the award winning creator of the Civilization series (as it says so sweetly on the box). Now, back in the day, I tried out Civilization. Granted, I was nine or ten, but it was still a computer game after all. Anyway, it was way too complicated for me, so in about five minutes I switched over to a more entertaining game, like the Magic School Bus. I carried this bias for awhile, up until I played Pirates! And as soon as I popped the disc into my CD drive, Sid Meier was an idol to me.

Pirates! has to be one of the most addictive and fun offline games ever to grace a computer. The game is set in the Caribbeans, back in the 1600’s. For those of you that failed history, that’s pirate time. An evil marquis imprisoned your family ten years ago, but you where able to escape. You board a Dutch, French, Spanish, or English ship to the new world (each has a different drop off point). During the voyage, your crew mutinies against the cruel captain. They elect you as the new pirate captain. Your mission is to rescue your family, take revenge on the marquis, make a mound of gold, and beat out the pirate competition. How you do this is up to you entirely.

Gameplay is extremely open to the player, practically no action can not be taken at any given point in time. You start the game with a low-class ship. As you sail around the Caribbean you find other ships. These can be anything from Spanish Trade Galleons, Dutch Smugglers, English Merchantmen, to even rival pirate ships. As a pirate, your duty is to attack and plunder these ships. When you get close enough to a ship, you can initiate a Real-Time naval battle with the ship. These battles are fun. Tedious, especially when the wind is against you, but the battles are exhilarating and exciting. You simply steer the ship, aim your cannons, fire, then wait for you cannons to reload. When the enemy ship is damaged enough, you can approach it to board. Two things can happen: 1) Your enemy surrenders peacefully, or 2) You engage in combat with the enemy captain. The combat for this is similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors. You can slash, chop and thrust, or you can avoid each respective attack by jumping, ducking and parrying. These battles are pretty easy, just get your timing down and always do a defensive move first. When you beat the captain, the enemy ship is now yours to plunder. Gold, food, goods, spice, and many other items can be gained, along with the ship itself. Just remember, if you repeatedly attack ships of a certain nationality, another country will be happy with you while that country may even post a bounty on your head. You repeat this as the months progress, stopping in at ports to buy more supplies, sell loot, and gain promotions from the Governor  Taverns in the ports supply you with knowledge about rival pirates and your missing family. You can buy maps which reveal the location of burried treasure from shady characters at the pub. Also, abbots can tell you where your families captors are. Progress through the game, save your family, and gain the best ship and biggest mountain of gold out of all the pirates, this is the main goal of Pirates!

The graphics in Pirates! are incredibly beautiful and detailed. Water effects are great, and the colors are vibrant and plentiful. Simply sailing around the Caribbeans can be a rewarding experience. A cool device is the Spy Glass which allows you to observe surrounding ships and land, and the detail when using this tool is astounding. Along with the great graphics come nice, detailed sounds. The cannon fire, the waves, and the groaning of your vessel help put you right in the world of Pirates!

Pirates! is a greatly innovative and addicting game. Not only will fans of the genre love it, but action-orientated gamers like me will appreciate it. I recommend it to all who have a PC, and I hear that an Xbox port is on the way in the future.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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