reviewed on PC
You want me to go where?! (cntd.)
Akella has a history with pirate games, and they are very good at ship modeling and naval combat. While ships are put into one of seven categories based on strength and sailing difficulty, no two ships are alike in stats and performance. The difference among the ships adds an extra dynamic to playing. Ship stats can be changed, but it takes an enormous amount of money and resources and it can only be done in one city. Cannon type can be changed any time the player is in port, but the cannon gauge can only be upgraded in the same manner as the other ship stats.
Playing with a Wooden Leg
Despite the improvements mentioned above, much of the game is carried over from previous versions. Nine years after Sea Dogs release in 2000, Akella is still using a lot of the same music, character models and voice-overs. The fact that I encountered some stability problems makes this reusing of materials unacceptable.
Another problem is the unbalanced difficulty. While there are ten settings, playing on anything beyond the fifth is pointless. The game has no real difficulty curve, and a starting character can head out in his canoe and immediately get attacked by a pirate and his squadron of 3 ships. When you try and play on a higher difficulty, the computer opponents seem supernaturally good.
A final nagging issue is the brothels. Vital to your health and your crew’s morale, brothels play a big role in the game. You are forced to rely on them to restore your health, which makes their annoyingness that much more grating. When you visit one of these establishments, you face a black screen with a big red CENSORED across the screen, with lame porno sounds in the background. It’s slightly funny in the beginning, but after the umpteenth time, you’ll start to wish your character wasn’t such a horn dog.
Still some Booty to be had
Despite my issues with the game, Age of Pirates succeeds in being an entertaining game. The ship combat is satisfying, ground combat is quick and to the point, and character development has definitely taken a turn for the better. Graphics and audio are on par with what is to be expected, but its nothing mind blowing, especially when recycled bits of old games keep showing up. Game play and controls are easy to understand and are based on an interface system that works. If you enjoyed previous games in the series, you’ll be satisfied with the improvements Akella has made. If you’ve never tried a pirate game, expect a decent game that plays to its fans.
Well developed naval combat. Great ship design. Open ended non-linear play.
Crashes like there's no tomorrow. Some balancing issues between difficulty and character level.