by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Captain worth his salt
A skilled commodore knows to take advantage of the wind direction and strength in the planning of the battle encounters and in the simulation realism level, these decisions may make or break the battle even before the first shot is loaded into the cannons. The fleet captains – or, rather, commodores – have special skills and abilities that can help the ships under their command in tight spots - such as short boosts to crew morale, sailing speed and firing accuracy. These abilities are short-term and will need to recharge before you can use them again. Furthermore, there is a set number of times you can use any of the abilities during a single encounter.
Graphics and sounds
At this phase, it seems that the graphics of East India Company are forming up very well. The water effects are great and the ship models look beautiful. The small crew members running around the decks are probably the weakest point as far as the graphics are concerned. I’m not going to say too much about graphics here simply because it is a beta build that we are trying out and there will likely be changes before release.
The sound acting – what little there is – gets a bit repetitive after a while. When you issue orders to a ship, you will hear any of the handful of possible acknowledgements and even though they are pretty well acted, they are still monotonous and a bit tiresome. It would be great to hear different sorts of responses depending on the weather conditions (you need to shout when it is stormy) and battle situations (some desperation in there, please). But we will see if the finished game will take these issues into account.
The preview build also had a pretty boring background music for the battles. Well made, but hearing the same tune over and over again is not something I will look forward to seeing in the final game. But, even more than the spoken dialogue, this is certainly an aspect that _will_ see improvement in the final product.
We’ve got the weather gage, captain!
At this point, it seems that the East India Company is getting along very well. The sea battles are just what one would wish from a game set in the Age of Sail and they, at least, will not disappoint. Now, we’ll certainly need to see the rest of the gameplay to judge how successful the trade empire building side of the game – which is the main focus of the game, I think – will fare. But, thus far, I’d advice you to keep your eyes open and get ready to don your tri-corner hats, for the Age of Sail and trade empires is upon us!