Sea Dogs offers three games in one. A third-person perspective lets you guide your character through the various towns and ports and interact with the citizenry. The shore-side adventure plays like a good 3-D RPG and allows you to uncover plots, hire pirates and buy supplies.
However, the gameplay on land is merely a prelude to the real action: piracy on the high seas. The combat model is excellent, enabling quick-thinking captains to manoeuvre their ships to fire broadsides into enemy vessels. You pick from the surprisingly wide variety of cannon shot in order to bring down mizzenmasts and mainsails, clear the decks of crew or simply blast the enemy ship into matchwood. When you board or are boarded, a third option pops up that lets you duel with the enemy captain.
Your health is a representation of the amount of crew you have relative to the enemy. It's a decent system pirated straight from Sid Meier's Pirates! the original high-seas adventure. Another bit of stolen Pirates! booty is the ability to pursue your own destiny. Unlike most other games, Sea Dogs does not impose a restrictive plot upon the player. Stay loyal to the English, join the Spanish, plunder the French just for the fun of it, or renounce all nations and become a pirate king--the options for adventure in Sea Dogs are as limitless as the ocean.
Where Sea Dogs takes on water is its difficulty. It took an awful lot of dying and reloading before we came upon an encounter that we could handle with our meagre initial force. Getting thrown to the sharks wouldn't be quite so bad if gamers were given a chance to hone their skills, but Sea Dogs lacks any kind of tutorial to let you practice ship-to-ship combat and swordplay. If your interest is only casual, this one won't shiver your timbers. But if you're in it for the long haul the game delivers a fantastic pirate experience. --Bob Andrews, Amazon.com
Location-specific ship damage allows players to send enemies' sails up in flames, bring their masts crashing to the deck, or shoot holes in their decks. Players can customise their ships with a variety of cannon and shot types to create devastating attacks. Wind and weather effects give advantages during combat and determine how ships sail in general. Players can choose to change allegiances at any time, giving up pirate life to join the cause of a country, leaving one country to fight for another, or choosing to serve only oneself as a pirate.
The real fun though is out on the ocean wave. Taking on a caravel with your trading bark is surprisingly satisfying. The battles can be slow, but then these are sailing ships. For me it doesn't make it any less exciting.
This isn't really a game for hack and slayers, but if you enjoy slowly building up your reputation, money and power, then there's a lot for you in this game.
This game does look very, very good, it's in sparkling 3d and the naval aspects are excellent, however the most noticable thing about it is that it is incredibly difficult. Even on easy level every combat that you enter you are outgunned and outnumbered which is a huge problem. I you remember Pirates and cutthroats there was easy prey to be had on this you find that practically every merchant vessel seats 20 cannon and 150 men which is to be honest ridiculous and added to this the game map is very small so you can't go off on your own and have fun, because chances are you will be attacked by a squadron of warships.
This game really should be good, graphically it is very good, and in parts the gameplay is good, but the overall effect is spoiled by the small gaming area and the excessive difficulty level which although challenging takes away the "fun" aspect of the game as this is effectively an rpg where your enemies are a hell of alot stronger than you for quite a while at the start.Read more ›