Written by  :  tantoedge (20)
Written on  :  Aug 04, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars3.14 Stars

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Freelancer of the High Seas - Made for X-Box, but ported to Windows

The Good

PotC sports some of the best features of any roleplaying game. Brilliant graphics, fantastic music, great gameplay, and a taste of steel. The game allows players to step into the shoes of Nathaniel Hawke, captain of the Victory, a ship which narrowly escapes french assault at Oxbay. It allows one to 'customise' their skills and abilities to their tastes, tailoring an experience on the high seas. It allows the player to outfit a ship that they can purchase or ransack from opponents, engage in high seas cannon battles, take forts and raid villages. Anything a pirate can do or would like to do, the player has the opportunity to do.

PotC is an impressive looking game, and from simple words the game seems to offer everything you could ever want in a role playing game of this nature. Sword battles are simple, yet exciting and challenging, sea-faring is realistic, but still arcade-ish, and there are little background variables to consider when making choices (morale, reputation, trade, etc...) The sailing is handled through two seperate environments. A world map, where most of the travelling takes place, and a 'Third Person Sailing' mode where you can operate the finer points of your vessel (eg: The Cannons). The greatest feature in this game is easily the 'Fast Travel' which allows the player to quickly skip the lengthy travelling process so they may find themselves where they want to be. For example, in a town you could select Shop from the Fast Travel menu and lo' you're in the Shop where you may conduct your trade. During sea battles you can select which ship you wish to engage and lo' you are somewhere within it's vicinity. If you're looking for a drawn out strategy fare than you've got it. PotC doesn't cut any corners in the ship vs. ship battles. They're dramatic, drawn out, and very beautiful thanks to the Storm engine. Also while sailing, you can use the Fast Travel to get yourself to different parts of an island, though once you've weighed anchor it's time for the feet to do their work. There is no 'Fast Travel' when it comes to the dark depths of the jungle.

All the brighter points of PotC are really something to behold. It's truly an enjoyable experience to play through this game on either system, despite it's console oriented design.

The Bad

However, with the good comes the bad, and I've always been one to point out flaws. PotC has no small amount of them. For starters, you cannot create your own character. This lack of character creation really disappointed me. I had expectations for this game that I could not fullfill. I couldn't play Black Beard, or Black Kat, or Jack Sparrow. I couldn't pick a face, a body, a sword fighting style, a 'homeland' (England, Holland, France, etc...), I couldn't actually pick anything. You cannot even select your own name. And though you can re-name any ship that you own, you cannot use your keyboard for this purpose (a painful sign that they really didn't care). Ship battles are slow at times, and frustrating at others. Boarding can be a pain if you don't know how to handle your ship and you cannot save your game during ship battles even though they can literally take hours.

Another main beef is the shoddy design of the manual. It offers no tips, no strategies and barely describes how you can advance in the game. It is a mish mash of information, quickly skimming all your 'options' as the player and then expects you to figure out the blanks.

Finally last but not least is the crashing issues. While the Storm engine is a wonderous creation (which lacks reflective technology) it is not a very friendly engine. It loves Direct X but hates losing attention. It is not flexible, and if something is in memory that it doesn't like, or if you get ad pop-ups, then this game will frustrate you to no end. This engine cannot be minimized, and recalled. And unless you keep careful track of your save files there is no way to discern one from the other (you can't name those either).

PotC had better get a patch soon

The Bottom Line

Well thought out for a console game. I wouldn't call it a Role Playing Game though. It's fun, but it's not overly fun. It's just good fun. But they'd better bring out a patch soon...