Sid Meier’s Pirates Xbox Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Retro Content, Retro Reviews, Xbox

Sid Meier’s Pirates! is more or less a remake of the classic C64 game. The game allowed you to live the wealthy, adventurous and dangerous life of a pirate and did the whole open ended business long before GTA and the like came along. The newer title is very similar but of course has all the perks that come along with modern day gaming, such as spruced up visuals and additional gameplay elements.

You begin the game as a young Pirate with your own ship, an entire ocean to explore and around half a lifetime to do so. The idea is to travel around this vast world and live the notorious life of a Pirate by of course, plundering as much gold as possible, discovering lost cities, romancing governor’s daughters and just generally doing things that assures you’ll become the number 1 ranked Pirate of the high seas.

Much of the game will be spent sailing around the gargantuan ocean; whilst you do so you’ll notice other ships doing their own thing and the big draw is, it’s your choice who and when you attack. Choosing to attack a ship will result in you taking it on in combat where you fire upon them, hoping to whittle down the numbers of their crew, before ending it by colliding your ship into theirs and duelling with the onboard Captain.

With few attack options that just consist of a single high, medium and low attack the duels are simplistic, this is certainly no dedicated fighting game that’s for sure. This mini game is impressively animated, probably one of the most enjoyable and on the higher difficultly levels offers a pretty stiff challenge.

Of course doing lots of evil things to a nation, such as attacking their own as well as their allied ships will leave them disgruntled, and results in them putting a price on your head and sending out Pirate hunters to hunt you down and even worse they’ll bar entry to many of their towns.

Approaching hostile towns or cities will give you two options both of which initiate a separate mini game; you can either take control of the town by force or if you’re severely lacking in manpower sneak in alone.

The “attack town” is a more attractive choice for more reasons than one; victory will not only gain you gold (the amount of which differs based on how prosperous that particular town is) but also allows you to place a governor of your choice as the new leader, turning a formally hostile area in to a possible powerful ally.

Taking a town is done via a real time strategy battle, which like the rest of the game is simplistic, this we’re thankful for as much too often we can’t get our heads round these dauntingly complex games. As usual with games like these, attacking from the rear or the side of the enemy will do additional damage but that’s about as complex as it gets here.

If their manpower exceeds your own by a significant margin and you must for some reason or another get into the town, your best option is to sneak in. These stealth sections are fairly poor and lack any real challenge but are over in mere minutes allowing you to mercifully return to the fun stuff.

Doing many favourable actions for any country will not only grant you the privileges of such things as free ship repairs and upgrades, but also invariably gives you the opportunity to meet, dance and even marry the daughter of a governor.

The dancing mini game is unsurprisingly rhythm action and requires you to follow on screen prompts (which scarily aren’t present on the higher difficultly levels) as well as hand gestures from your female partner. This game is one of the weakest, but is worth doing as impressing your companion with your dance moves will allow you to gain valuable information as well as items that will be of great assistance to you on your travels.

This however isn’t Pirates! biggest problem, that accolade must go to the sea travel, which can become quickly tiring especially on the longer journeys (and this shockingly coming from someone who actually enjoyed the Windwaker’s and Suikoden IV’s much derided sailing sections). It’s perfectly fine when there’s a wind blowing behind you and can even be fairly pleasant but otherwise it’s horribly tedious and a ludicrously time consuming task, so much so that we feel Firaxis should really walk the plank for this evil or at the very least lose an eye, we apologise for the bad jokes matey!

You’ll be watching the same cut scenes frequently (but don’t fear they can be skipped) and doing an awful lot of the same thing a near insane amount of times and this repetition can too be a problem. If you seek variety in your games, you won’t find it here, but even so we were rarely bored and for the most part were hooked on living the life of a Pirate, striving to retire with as much gold as possible and living the remainder of our life with a successful job (which functions as like a rank in case you were wondering) then we returned to it again and again and plan to do so in the near future too, it’s that addictive!

There’s a multiplayer mode too, which is pretty much an emulation of the ship skirmishes from the single player game, but for some inexplicable reason it has a different control method, which is likely to leave many players confused. The mode itself isn’t outstanding by any means, and its lack of options, results in it feeling a tad tacked on but it still manages to be an enjoyable enough diversion from the main game.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! is a very simplistic game devoid of any real storyline or gameplay complexities, but it’s certainly one of the most absorbing and charming titles of the year so far and despite it being based on an ancient C64 game, it still remains as unique today as it was back then. Now, please excuse us as we’re heading back out on the high seas to live the life, we suggest you landlubbers do the same!

8/10

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