by William Thompson
previewed on PC
The glory days of piracy
Ahoy there, me hearties, Tortuga: Two Treasures is an action adventure pirate game set in the Caribbean in the glory days of piracy in the early 18th century. The game is based around the exploits of Thomas "Hawk" Blythe. Hawk is embarking on a search for the legendary treasure of Henry Morgan, whilst trying to evade the treacherous pirate Blackbeard.
Fighting and sneaking
There are plenty of missions available to Hawk, each posing fresh and exciting challenges for the gamer. While the main missions are defined by the story, the gamer is free to move and explore at will. The game will be spread out over 400 square kilometres of sea, so you may need to take a sun-sight every now and again.
The game will be packed with all sorts of action ranging from battles on land to battles at sea. Land battles involve a range of sword fighting maneuvers as well as combo attacks and special moves. With each battle, your character becomes more experienced. Experience unlocks and improves special moves and combo attacks that are more powerful than the standard ones you start out with. Fighting is not your only option however. Apart from sword fighting, Hawk has the ability to sneak past guards, or even use ranged attacks with pistols, throwing knives or grenades.
One thing all pirates need is a ship to sail the open seas. In Tortuga, there are certainly enough ship types to keep a scurvy dog happy in his many adventures and to keep gameplay fresh. The game will incorporate 10-gun Sloops, 30-gun Caravels, and even the highly-prized massive 94-gun Ships of the Line. Each ship type can be used by its crew for various tasks, and therefore each contact will result in a different configuration. Merchant ships will be lightly armed, but come equipped with lots of storage room, that can be used for trading. Military ships on the other hand, will be strongly armed, but fairly slow. Pirates have different requirements of course and their ships will be fast, with smaller storage space, but be fairly well armed.
As well as the different ship types, there be a range of weapons to choose from. Well equipped pirates will have a variety of weapons to use in various scenarios. Weapons include the standard cannon (for firing cannonballs), cannons for firing grapeshot (or small pellets to damage the enemy crew) and chain shot (for attacking enemy sails). Apart from the cannon weapons, there are some specialty weapons. These include grappling hooks to enable easier boarding, keg mines and cannons for land-based use.
Most of the game's graphics are a treat to behold. The only part of the graphics one could be a little disappointed in, is the character animation. Characters appear action-figure like lack the level of detail seen in most of todays games. That being said, the remainder of the view from atop the crow's nest is stunning. Under open sail, the waves and rippling water are so realistic that landlubbers could begin to feel seasick. The flags flutter in the breeze, and reflections in the water are just superb. One aspect that really impressed me was the effect of the cannons fired into enemy ships (or even your own). The explosions are really detailed with splinters of wood flying in all directions when impact occurs.
As briefly mentioned earlier, the more battles won (on land and at sea) the more experience points you will earn. These experience points can be used in a number of ways, all of which will improve Hawk's abilities, which, in the end, will aid Hawk as he faces his nemesis, the famed Blackbeard.
Tortuga: Two Treasures is another pirate game that will be trying to tempt gamers to spend their hard-earned pieces of eight. The flood of pirate-themed games onto the market in recent times means that the team behind Tortuga will have their work cut out for them. Being one of the last games to be released in the genre will mean that vast improvements will need to be made on previous titles in order to relieve gamers of their booty. From what we've seen so far, Tortuga does have some good features, but whether or not these will be enough, only time will tell. Tortuga: Two Treasures is currently scheduled for a 1st Quarter of 2007 release.