by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
We are sailing, we are sailing
When you talk gaming, pirates normally have a horrible connotation. You know, those despicable characters who are involved in the unauthorized copying of computer software. But when I was growing up, I loved computer pirates, though it was the scallywags that were brought to the computer monitor by Sid Meier. Pirates! was my favourite game as a kid – one that I played for hours at a time, my pixelated avatar roaming the Caribbean in search of treasure. Now, any game that involves Pirates in the title immediately brings with it a touch of nostalgia.
When Pirates of Black Cove arrived at the Hooked Gamers offices (ok, so really it just arrived into our GamersGate account), being the huge pirate game fan that I am, the review of the game was entrusted to me. My initial reaction was of surprise that Paradox, who are better known for their hardcore world-focussed turn based strategy games, had published the game. Often moving out of your comfort zone can be a risky venture. I had hoped that Paradox could pull it off, though.
Yarrr…it be driving me nuts
And immediately, the tone of the game had the nostalgia returning. The game world of Pirates of Black Cove looks not dissimilar to the 2004 remake of Sid Meier’s classic. On selecting your cartoonish avatar from the three choices and attaching your selected upgrade to your ship, you begin sailing the famed Caribbean. The Caribbean is alive with sea life and colourful parrots and a plethora of ships from various nations just ripe for the picking. The atmosphere is delightful with lush tropical forests adorning the islands whilst the sun shimmers off the water like thousands of glistening diamonds. The steel drum music plays livelily in the background as you manoeuvre you little sailing ship towards your pirate stronghold.
It is at these pirate strongholds that you will be given your quests, as Pirates of Black Cove is essentially a mission based game (a pirate RPG). The base can also be a place to buy ship upgrades, hire crew and purchase various potions from the local ‘mad alchemist’. Various pirate factions across the Caribbean will offer you quests as you progress through the game. Completing missions for one faction will increase you reputation, opening up quests from the next faction. Quests involve sailing from your home port to various locations across the Caribbean. This can sometimes seem laborious, especially early on in the game with your slow moving vessel.
Once you’ve reached your destination, quests will normally entail one of two mission types. The first has you completing a sea battle, using your skill as captain of the ship to bombard the enemy ship until it sinks down into Davy Jones’ Locker. These sea battles are fairly simple, especially if you’ve played Sid Meier’s Pirates. Guiding your ship around using the A and D keys and firing using Q and E from either side of your ship. The only difficulty is remembering which side is facing the enemy. Other special ship upgrades such as a harpoon to slow enemies, massive cannonballs or even a human catapult can also be used. The human catapult is particularly comical, as you launch your crew member towards the enemy vessel. A successful landing enables the plundering of the ship.
Controls are simple and the game is fun to play when it’s not crashing. Audio is pretty good too.
The game is a little too easy, possibly due to the numerous AI issues. Game crashes too often for my liking.