The original Pirate of the Caribbean is back, and his name’s not Jack!
Back in 1987 Sid Meier created a little game called Pirates! At the time it was a revalation. Never before had this kind of open endedness been seen in a game. Of course it did come from the man who created Civilisation and Rail Road Tycoon! Sure there was the likes of elite, but Pirates! gave the player more of a purpose. Avenge your family! We take this kind of game for granted now, with games like GTA available. Over the last couple of years, Pirates! has undergone a couple remakes. 2004 saw a new updated version appear on the PC, 2005 saw it on the XBOX and now, in 2007, we are treated to a fantastic PSP version.
Your family has fallen on hard times and the local Spanish baron has taken all of their property and enslaved them. Only you, a young boy, escape. Several years later you are all grown up and it is time to seek revenge.
This is where the game begins. You sign up to sail as a buccaneer with either the British, Spanish, Dutch, or French. At this point you can give yourself a name and choose a skill. These include things like fencing ,gunnery, medical and a few others. Not long after setting sail you instigate a mutiny and take over the ship. So begins a swashbuckling adventure like no other.
There is so much to do here that you will never get bored… I lost several days playing this and I never missed them!
Starting in your newly captured boat you will want to dock at a friendly port and start to gather info and missions. Talking to the governor will get you information on who they are at war with and also will give you permission to sink anyone they are at war with! Next you will want to go to the tavern. Here you will be able to recruit more sailors, talk to the ‘Mysterious Man’, talk to the barmaid and talk to the inn keeper. The mysterious man is a useful chap who can sell you unique items and info that are invaluable on your travels. The last two give you information relating to the numerous quests you can undertake. Whilst docked you can also trade with the merchant or upgrade and repair your fleet at the ship yard.
There are a lot of different quests and activities in Pirates! To start with there is the main plot goal, to find your family and seek revenge. The thing is, that will actually take up the least of your time. There is treasure to find, pirates to dispose of, ancient cities to discover, ports to capture and more!
The game is made up of 6 mini games. Sailing / sea battles, duelling, land battles, stealth, treasure hunting and dancing.
Sailing is a simple affair of pointing your ship in the right direction and going. Weather can affect the speed of your travels and you must also keep in mind how much food you have.
Sea battles on the other hand appear simple, but hide a real tactical depth. The ships control a bit like race cars, which I did complain about in Tortuga Two Treasures, but here it seems to work! As you manoeuvre for the perfect shot, you will need to decide what you want to do to the enemy ship. Do you want to capture the ship to add it to your fleet? If so you will want the grape shot upgrade, so the ship is left intact and just the sailors are killed. Are you just wanting to disable the ship and try to acquire new crew? Well chain shot is for you, this will disable the ship and allow you to board more easily.
Once you have boarded a ship you will be taken to a Duel with the ships captain. After choosing from the 3 sword types available, it’s fight time! You have over head strikes, leg sweeps, thrusts and parries at your disposal as you try to force your opponent off the ship! Defeat him and the ship is yours.
The other big section of the game are the land battles. Attack a port and they will not let you dock. However, you are able to try and sneak into the town or attack it. If you choose to attack it you will be taken to a small turn based strategy game. Place your pirates, officers and buccaneers on the map and try to destroy the enemy defence forces. Once defeated you can put in place a new governor.
Defeating ships, capturing ports, killing off pirates and finding treasure will all add to your reputation and your wealth. As well as this you will find that grateful governors will offer you commissions, land and even their daughters (this leads to the dancing mini game that I will not go into!)
There is so much to do here that you will never get bored. It feels as though it was designed for the PSP as the mini game style gives it a great pick up and play style. I lost several days playing this and I never missed them!