Pirates! Xbox Review
In Sid Meier’s Pirates you take the leading role as a Pirate Captain in the 17th century Caribbean. On your travels you will seize and pillage amassing a fortune and become a famous pirate. You will dock at many a port, blow up many a skip, fight many a sea-dog and dance with many a girl, and hopefully in the end you will have amassed a quality fleet, found your parents, and located the buried treasure! Agrahhhhh…
Pirates start off with a small cut-scene showing your family dinner been interrupted by Count Montalban. You manage to break free but the rest of your family is taken away. 10 years later, the main game begins where you have to choose a name, in my case I went for the “Jack Sparrow” which you probably think is the worst pirate you ever heard of, but you have heard of me! You then choose your specialty, difficulty, what time period you wish to play in, and the nationality you want your pirate to be. After this you are thrown straight into the game with the whole game open for you to explore right from the very beginning. Pirates is extremely open-ended with lots to see and do straight from the word go! Most of your time will be spent aboard your chosen ship, sailing from place to place from am isometric perspective.
While in your ship you can engage other ships in battle which basically involves you sailing your ship (going round in circles at most times) and shooting cannonballs at your rival ship. While this may sound a bit tedious it is strangely addictive and a lot of fun! You have four different shots you can fire. Firstly the standard shot will end up sinking the ship if you get enough hits, then there is the chain shot to rip a ship’s sails to shreds, and finally the grape shot which kills crew members on your rival’s ship.
While you are not sailing, some of the more tricky mini-games in Pirates are without a doubt the dancing and sword fighting, and they require you to time your attacks well but after a few fights most would-be pirates should find their feat easily, and then the mini-games should become second nature. Both games do require quick reflexes but both are highly scripted affairs that repeat themselves throughout the game a multitude of times.
You also must keep all of your crew happy; if they are not content they will become mutinous and betray you. To keep them happy you can take lots of spoils from every ship you battle. Other ways to keep them happy is to have specialist members on your crew such as a cook who will keep you crew content with sea life! Sadly. parts of the title are a little disappointing with the RTS and sneaking parts in particular not been a lot of fun. Thankfully there are many other parts of the game that are a hell of a lot of fun which more than make up from these let-downs.
All of the characters in the game look realistic with a slight cartoony feel; the women in the game seem to have their corsets tied far too tight (how can they breathe?). The map is gigantic with many ports for you to stop at. The water effects (which you will see a lot of) are of a high quality. The ships (which you will also spend a lot of time with) are nicely put together and break up impressively when hit with a cannonball. The animation in the game is also another high point; all the battles are epic and very well done. Maps have a “torn” off-brown pirate feel to them. Lots of nice graphical touches have been added to make the game look superb, giving you something exciting to look and see at every port you feel the need to stop at. Lastly there are almost zero load times with just a few seconds of loading at any post you stop, which is not to bad for games these days!
Acoustically, Pirates is impressive, lots of classic “piratey” tunes are on show. If you have seen any old pirates’ movies or any pirate based cartoons you should know what to expect. Voice acting is rather weird as most of the characters in the game don’t speak any form of English, instead a more “simlike” voice is used and most speak is garble. While on foot or sailing you will however hear some of the trademark pirate “Aaarrh’s” and “yarrggghh’s.” The music is without doubt the best audio Pirates has to offer. The game also supports 5.1 Dolby Digital which makes all of the above sound that little bit better!
Due to a lot of aspects of Pirates repeating themselves throughout the course of the game, it is very easy for the game to become routine and as a result of that: boring. The game does a good job of trying to convince you it is very open ended giving you the illusion that there is always a lot for you to do. Pirates always tries to make sure you are never tied down to one aspect of the game, always trying to give you options meaning that during the course of your pirates life (about 15 hours) you should always have something to do, but just hope you do not hate doing it once those 15 hours elapses!
Pirates is a gripping game containing an exciting mix of genres. It is an adventure game containing the thought and planning of a RTS, mixed with the collecting aspect of platformers, then there is the stealth of the Splinter Cell with a small touch of a RPG thrown in for good measure. Couple this with a multitude of tasks to accomplish and a few mini-games and you’ve got a very appealing title that should appeal to a vast range of gamers out there. There is something for everyone to love in Pirates!
8.8 out of 10