I for one look forward to more games like this...har...har...har
I've played Sid Meier's Pirates! ever since the first time it came out...which seemed like eons ago and I recall never have been disappointed by any of the 2 series I've played. Make that 3 series I've played...:)
One of the best thing's about playing new games or specifically new remakes of a game it the anticipation of never knowing what you'll get. I got this game from a recommendation of a friend in addition to already familiar with the series, I thought I knew what to expect.
Egad, boy was I wrong...and a good one at that too.
I remember the first time I played it. I was blown away by the smooth graphics. I admit, this is probably the first time in a long time since I didn't have anything "bad" to say about 3D graphics. If games like this game are the future of graphics in games...I take back every load of crap I said about 3D graphics and look forward to each similar game.
Sid Meier keeps bringing Pirates! into more detailed perfection. Graphically, it's almost perfect. This coming from a guy who detested 3D graphics with the utmost.
Sound was amazing (though I hate the fact about human nature, you don't get amazed the second time around). I remember being astounded that your crew cheers every time you make a good number of cannon hits to enemy ships. The sounds of waves, the ship moving, creaks on the ships, all that background sound mumbo-jumbo certainly hit its mark.
The music really gave you the sense of the "pirate" spirit. The atmosphere of the sea was there. It really helped with the game subtitle (which by the way isn't on the main title...needs correcting) "Live the Life". Though I was expecting the song "What shall we do with the drunken sailor..." or maybe I missed it? Har...har.
Game play was amazing (also the first time around). Ship battles didn't change much, although greatly improved via graphics and sound effects.
Speaking of game play, have to go back to the issue of graphics by the way, which has to do with game play.
Egad! I thought this was more of a movie than a game! There are a lot of animations in this game which are astounding. The great thing is, a lot of the animations are part of the game play, especially during fencing. Normally, animations and game play to my experience were 2 different issues. Normally, when you provoke an action, a continuing animation-film like comes into display. Here, specifically in fencing, the animation is part of the game play! Egad! Genius, pure genius.
Back to game play, the fencing combat when you board the ship was probably the best, or one of the best aspects of the game. You've got combo's and stuff, making this a really neat "arcade game" to some extent. Tricky, if not dang irritating the first time around, it gets easier after you've discovered the trick of fighting. I also noticed detailed features like your crewmen fighting. The more men you have, the more crew are "fighting" in the background, as well as how damaged a ship is. I've noticed this since once I purposely killed (or let die) all my crew, and when I won (me a skilled fencer of course, ahem) saw myself (the character) cheering at shipmates that didn't exist on the deck (usually there were some shipmates cheering you on). Kinda funny looking at your character cheering himself alone, eh?
The game also has additional "funny" features like ballroom dancing, which took me completely by surprise. Funny that this game has a dancing game in it. This game really requires some quick reactions. Kinda reminds me of TOEFFL English tests on listening. Dang, western capitalists...uh...never mind.
Last but not least, the game came with an (almost) complete Pirateopedia, a very welcome surprise with some very funny entries in it.
Each masterpiece has its faults, and this game is not excluded.
The first thing that irritated me was how difficult fencing was. That later didn't become a problem, but in some situations, the opponent fights so fast it's almost ridiculous. Feels like you’re playing Matrix, but can't do the fast moves...but the other guy can. Really needs fixing, I fighting chance I understand, super lighting speed is just pure irritating.
On that notion, games like this should've required some sort of tutorial. I restarted 2 times in this game before finally realizing how the hell to fight in fencing.
Next would be the "trading" details. Unfortunately in this game, they messed up big time when in games to trading. The other Pirates! games had it right, where you could become a trader. In this game, it's impossible, yes, impossible to become a trader as a serious main occupation, which is supposedly the prime occupation of the Dutch Nation. It's impossible because even the biggest cities never seem to have enough gold when you bring in expensive merchandise; I've noticed the most money you can get is around 2000 gold pieces, not very comforting when you bring in 10000 gold pieces worth of merchandise. Sure you can, go out of port in enter again (after failing 2 time entering in short term notice, probably to prevent mistaken re-entry’s), but each time you enter a port, I've noticed it takes away 1 week from your schedule, besides entering the same port more than once is quite irritating and useless.
Still on that subject, in its previous game, a cities prosperity and wealth is usually related to your trading with that city. You buy and sell stuff in that city, the city gains prosperity. They've taken away that aspect, where you need to escort a new governor to the city. This involves a lot of ship battles. In fact, this game seems to focus a lot on fighting, a little too much. Which is really bad at times, sometimes you just don't want to go through tireless ship battles and just want to trade peacefully without those dang pirate hunters up your rear end. A serious miscalculation from the game creators in this aspect.
Ship prices are also ridiculous. I'm trying to comprehend how a badly damaged ship can only cost 10 gold pieces and a new ship even with upgrades can cost only 500-1500 gold pieces. It's odd since a single item of merchandise can cost 20 gold pieces (which is probably just a dang lamp) but can cost more than a ship. I was also expecting the possibility to create ships like in the game "Uncharted Waters", but didn't see that happening.
Another aspect where I was greatly disappointed was during ship battles. I expected my fellow ships to enter combat with me. Not happening. It's just of your ships against a maximum of 2 enemy ships. It was a big disappointment because the assumption created in the first mission where the governor asks you to attack an enemy port, while sending a ship there so you could "tag along", thus I assumed you would help in a single sea battle where you and your allied ship would attack another enemy ship together. I assumed wrong, pissed greatly I recall.
They also took away your capability to attack an enemy port. In other Pirates! games, you could attack an enemy port with your ship, thus a sea battle between your moving ship and a not moving enemy bastion filled with guns, ending you boarding the castle in fencing combat.
Winds are still irritating, though probably realistic, but not moving from your spot in 1 week due to wind issues really triggers some nerves. The wind strength isn't visually very clear whether or not it's strong or weak. Water currents like in Uncharted Waters would greatly help game play, where you don't just have to rely on wind speed to get that dang ship moving.
Meeting governors in this game was really irritating. Me, I would like to meet governors just to accept missions, or receive missions, or just meet the governors daughter without getting a promotion (for retiring purposes of wealth). You can't do that in this game, you will automatically get a promotion from the governor, even if you don't want to. I vaguely recall it previous Pirates!, you can only get a promotion from a governor that gave you the letter or marquee or received a mission, thus you are free to visit other governors from the same nation without fear of getting a promotion, and thus collecting more acres of land with each promotion (my record is 7000 acres on a single promotion, at that was only to the rank of captain!) Viva la France!
Last but no least, the greatest error or somewhat disaster in the game is the lack of story in the game. I know it wasn't really meant to be an adventure game but the game really has potential to do so. After playing the game the 3rd time around, you really start to lose interest...fast. Been there, done that. No story. I have a "2" rating for the story, since it really don't have one worth mentioning. Save this relative, defeat that villain, find this treasure, that's it. No little more details in between. The intro cut scene was a great opener, I expected more storytelling during the game, but didn't find one. It was merely graphical. Really disappointed in this area.
The Bottom Line
Overall, this game comes highly recommended for some serious game play or just for some good laughs.