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Journal FortKnox's Journal: Pirates! 7

I was finally able to crack open the gift the fellow slashdotter (who wishes to remain anonymous) bought me for my birthday. A Sid Meier game, so its automatically good, right?

What I was planning on doing is playing the game a couple hours, then writing a 'first impression' of the game....
Well, I started at 10pm last night. When I was done for the night, I thought "well I did a lot in those two hours!" Then I looked at the time... 2:30am. Definitely not the first time I cursed Sid Meiers name for 'forcing' me to sit and play his game well past what I had planned... reminded my of my old 6-10 hour one-sitting games I played of Civ2 and SMAC (we liked the name 'smack' for a reason) ;)

What can you do in the game? Well, you have a ship, can pick a country to initially fight for (spanish, dutch, french, english), then you can kick some ass.... well, there are 'legit' ways to play the game... trading between ports and such (BOOOORING). I played for the english (was suggested for beginners) and started by only attacking those against the english flag (lets just say the french were PISSED at me for quite some time). You come into ports and can get more crew, sell the stuff you stole, repair/upgrade/sell ships, etc. You can also talk to the governor. He will either yell at you (for attacking ships of his country), congratulate you (for attacking his counties enemies), promote you (for REALLY attacking his countries enemies, doing missions for him, etc...), introduce you to his daughter. She will ask for jewelery, or other stuff based on your rank (the prettiest will only talk with high ranks). If you are good enough, you can 'dance' with her, which is a game of 'figure out the next move, and hit that key at just the right time... which is surprisingly like fencing in the game). The real meat and potatoes is sailing. Its just 'turn left' and 'turn right', and adjusting your sails... you have to SAIL with the wind and such. Sailing into the wind with the wrong kind of ships can be pretty slow going (watch how much food you have!). The map is enormous, and hard to manipulate (as the wind is mostly heading west, so once you start going west, getting back can be hard going). Battle can be chosen by any ship (unless you really piss someone off and they come after you). Battle is just like a naval battle should be. Cannons are on the sides of the ships, you get to pick your balls (round for hull destruction, chain for sail destruction, and grape for crew destruction). If you get close, they will either surrender due to damage, or you board, and you have to fence the captain. Fencing, like I said, is like dancing (press the right button at the right time). Its surprisingly quick and I've had games that I go either way, so its not really 'easy', but it can be.

Anyway, my 'first impression' was that the game was a little too easy. It 'told' you how to dance with governors daughters... it 'told' you how enemy captains where going to strike in swordfight... it was pretty easy to kick ass and take names...
But the neat part of the game is that even though you can get a whole fleet of like 5 ships from stealing from enemies... after 9-12 months of sailing, the crew grows restless, and you ahve to dock, divide the loot (you get like 10%), and you only get to keep that 10% AND only your lead ship. Well, when you do that, you also can 'level up'... now the things the game 'told' you are no longer available. Dancing I find incredibly hard, cause you have to go by hand signals the governors daughter gives you which happens one beat before you have to press the button... I just lost two sword battles (and now I have to pick which type of sword to use!). Enemies realize when you can outmanuver or outgun them, so they try to quickly run in for sword battle....

Whats the best, though? I still haven't scratched the surface of everything you can DO in this game. I've only covered maybe 25% of the map, I haven't looked for buried treasure, I haven't tried to attack a town, I haven't found any of my family (that's the plot of the game... evil baron enslaves your family, you escape, grow up, and are part of a mutiny and are voted the new captain...).

Not turned based like normal Sid Meier games, but just as ridiculously addictive as the rest of his.... not recommended unless you have several hours free ;)

Giant thanks to that anonymous slashdotter again... going to enjoy this one for quite some time!
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  • I have the original DOS based game from 1990ish if you are ever interested in playing it. It's almost exactly the same as what you've described so far (with the exception of dancing, cannonball type and hopefully much worse graphics). If it still follows the old game, ALWAYS buy treasure maps. They are worth their weight in gold (figuratively).
  • I, too, played the original Pirates!, as well as the remake, Pirates! Gold. I loved the originals, but I love the new one much better. You're only scratching the surface -- it'll get much better.

    The gameplay is roughly the same in the new Pirates! as it was in the old ones, but much more exciting. The new Pirates! has much better fencing action -- being able to pick up buckets and swing from ropes is just plain cool -- and as a naval combat game, it's unrivaled.

    But you haven't touched on aging yet. As your
  • But there were a few broken mechanics. Some of the small ships were so quick as to be unstoppable - even at fairly high difficulty I could take down any ship with the Indian canoe. The mechanism of crew unrest also bugged me at higher levels - it seemed like you were starting over far too often. Also, long distance travel with unfavorable wind was annoying.

    But enough complaints - a fun little game.
    • Small ships were never a problem for me, as some chain shot will slow'm down real quick (with 32 cannons on a large ship, that is). Sailing into the wind is a royal pain, but some ships can do it well (have to look into the book, but like 3 ships can sail favorably into the wind).
      • by JMZero ( 449047 )
        I guess I wasn't clear - I was using the small ships to abuse the computer. The computer doesn't seem particularly good at ship battle with any ship.
        • by kormoc ( 122955 )
          Did you level up beyond the start level? it got much harder for myself when I did that...
          • by JMZero ( 449047 )
            I'm afraid I don't remember what starting level I was using, or how often I upped - it's been a while. For me, some things got very hard with higher difficulty: dancing, swordplay, the land battles, and crew management - but never the ship fights. I could always count on a win from the canoe.

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman