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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2005
The simple pleasure of this game gives it (as has been said) a very solid 'just another 5 minutes' effect. It reminds me of the games of my yoof, such as the original 'Pirates' and I love the easy, open format of play. Modern games such as 'Freelancer' are good at this, and perhaps have more scope for adventure, but this is a sturdy, old-fashioned, witty and open-ended computer game. You'll tire of it after a while but go back every now and then, which is more than can be said for most games out there. It also reminds me of 'Tropico', but that must just be because it's winter and I'm cold.
The full retail version of the game is still buggy, yet I cannot see any (eye) patches for it. Once you learn how to start it - in my case after a reboot and from the game CD rather than the desktop or start icons - this is a great diversion for those of us who do not mind the repetition inherent in a game of this type as it is quick (other than the marching) and playfully addictive. It also lends itself to being paused in mid game to go off and do something less swashbuckling instead such as the washing up or reading your emails. As it is a chore to start, I leave it running all the time, lowering the priority of the process when minimised.
Thanks Sid. This is quite a 'brave' game to release, as some other reviews show.
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on 22 July 2004
The original Pirates! was the first game I played on a computer -an Amstrad CPC 128, if memory serves- and, several years later, I consider one of the best games I've ever played and I've played a few. Pirates was an open-ended adventure set in the 16th-17th century Carribean, a trully lawless place. Although graphically primitive -computers "back then" had a memory of, well, a few bytes- its huge appeal lay in the way it drew the player into its world. Gameplay over presentation. A simple recipe and one so rarely followed by the modern gaming industry. Not that I lament the demise of the pc speaker or the advent of graphics cards. It didn't matter that your mighty frigate looked silly, and your devastating broadside salvo resembled three pixels moving in unison, you felt like you were on its deck, ordering your crew about. Surprisingly, or maybe not for a game designed by the great Sid Meier, the decisions that the player made really mattered. If you felt like role-playing the scumm of the earth you could do that -and pay the price for turning everyone against you. Up for some goody-good deeds? No problem. Rescure your long-lost family, recover the Incan treasure. Sea battles, fort attacks by sea or land, everything was possible -and fair game- in your quest for fame and, most importanly, fortune. You could swordfight your way into the heart of a governor's daughter or you could remain a sworn bachelor. Pirates! offered a living, breathing world through its few pixels and squeaky sounds, a towering achievement back in 1987 and one unsurpassed by the majority of modern games. Now just imagine an open-ended swashbuckling adventure with excellent graphics, piratey tunes, improved and more complex gameplay, more options but the same freedom and you might begin to share my excitement -and that of many of the "older generation" of gamers- for this release. For those who played and loved the original, and for those who would like to introduce their children or their friends to an incredible adventure in the high seas, this is trully an unmissable title.
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on 4 January 2005
Pirates! was always going to have to face one of two challenges for every gamer who bought it. Either it would have to make its mark on a total newcomer or it'd have to convince those who played its legendary predecessor that a new incarnation would be able to repeat the success of the original.
The original "Pirates" was one of those games that burned itself forever into the consciousness of those who played it. Huge in scope, freeform (a truly rare characteristic of computer games these days), well presented, and brimming over with character. Like "Elite", it was one of those games that sucked you in and swallowed you. People lost hours of their lives as they wandered the Caribbean looking for just one more fat Spanish merchant ship to plunder. So at first glance it might seem like every long-time gamer's dream come true: finally, this epic piece of our past is being brought up to date.
The new "Pirates!", I'm sorry to say, just doesn't have what the original had. It's hardly surprising. Computers and gamers have come on a long way since then. I can certainly say quite confidently that "Pirates!" is well put together. If, that is, you're happy about the angle that the developers have decided to take with it. I'm not. The first thing that the player needs to be ready for is that this is far more 'Monkey Island' than 'Treasure Island' - much less remotely realistic. It's essentially a pantomime where nothing really 'bad' happens. For example, it skirts around the whole 'killing people' issue. Swordfights only ever end with someone falling in the sea. In fact, I was about to say it had a sort of 'Disney' feel - until I remembered that Disney's last foray into movie piracy (if you see what I mean) quite cheerfully involved animated skeletons running around stabbing people.
Moving on. The main character is, essentially, Guybrush Threepwood. He (for the game does not allow for a female avatar) is the spitting image of the inept buccaneer from the Monkey Island adventure game series - although if anything this guy is rather more camp. It's perhaps a minor point, but it's one that today's games lead me to ponder almost constantly: Why is it apparently Against The Rules of game development to allow the player to create their own character? Why do so few developers dare to include this facility? Do developers not realise that a character created by the player is going to be one that the player cares for more?
But let's consider some of the more significant aspects of the game. Firstly, the graphics. They are, I have to concede, very pretty indeed. They don't really evoke the atmosphere of being at sea, but they do evoke the atmosphere of playing "Pirates". As for sounds, well, they're the usual looped wave effects, seagulls, creaking decks and flapping sails. The music, however, is hugely irritating. Arrive in a town and you'll be treated to one cheery little tune that will go on and on (albeit in different styles depending on where in the town you are) until you leave. Fortunately, there is an option to switch it off.
Gameplay. Well, "Sea Dogs" and its sequel "Pirates of the Caribbean" have, sadly, had no impact on other developers in the 'sailing ships and broadside cannon combat' genre. While those games allowed you to experience combat from the deck of your ship, "Pirates!" has remained faithful to the standard model of little ships viewed from above going round and round and round. It's old fashioned, and personally I don't find it very absorbing. Also, the water textures here do not convey movement well, and as a result combat seems slower than might be expected, and there are frequently moments where you could be forgiven for thinking ships are drifting through the water sideways.
Much of the game is exactly as it was when "Pirates" was first released on Amiga. Same combat, same strategy, same everything. Which is, after all, the point. But in attempting to update the game, the developers have introduced a couple of new 'sub-games' (because, with the best will in the world, that's all they are): sneaking through town, and - tragically - dancing. When your character wants to impress the Governor's daughter, he has to take her to the ball, where he has to dance with her. Each key on the keypad represents a dance move. Hit the right one the very moment it flashes and you'll make the right move. Miss the key, or delay more than a tiny fraction of a second, and you stumble around like a fool and embarrass your companion. Quite what improvement this bolted-on afterthought is supposed to make to the game is beyond me. It doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than to annoy.
Combat is similarly disappointing. What was a good system back in the days of the 8-bit computers - a sort of paper-scissors-stone approach to see who wins each move - seems sadly lacking when we've seen vastly superior hand-to-hand combat systems even in titles like GTA:VC or Vampire: Bloodlines.
But the overall feel of the game is what killed it for me. I'm longing for someone to produce a pirate game that combines more realistic ship handling and combat, an atmospheric presentation of life at sea, a more realistic vision of who and what pirates were, and offers the player true freedom in allowing him (or her - there were girl pirates, people!) the option of whether to go for riches and honour, or just riches, or perhaps simply aim for epic heroism or infamous evil. I think this title's missed out on an opportunity to appeal to those like me who'd like to have seen something a little more gritty; although I'm certain it should appeal to those who favour cheerful, brightly-coloured console games.
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on 15 January 2005
When I read some of the other reviews on this site I nearly didn't buy this game, I'm so glad I decided not to listen! Installing was not an entirely smooth process... there were a couple of .dll files I had to download to get it going but once it was up and running.. wow!
I didn't play the original game so I'm not biased by nostalgia etc. This is a genuinely really good game. Its simple but just very well done, and very addictive. Its flexible as well so you really can play it in the way you want to. Also, it was very straightforward to get into yet I keep discovering new dimensions to the game.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this game to all ages!
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on 19 March 2005
Sadly, I am old enough to remember the original back in the 80s. So I looked forward to the release of this game with anticipation.
On the whole its great fun. The graphics are excellent and its great fun to play. Sneaking around cities and the even the dancing are both highly amusing.
The only downside is that it is too easy. The sword fencing is far too easy to master and unfortunately this limits the long term playability of the game.
Overall, great fun but too easy
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on 26 February 2005
This game is Brilliant! I have never played a pirate game on the PC before and never really expected much when i played it, but it is fantastic! The graphics are brilliant and the game gives you freedom to explore before looking for treasure and sinking pirate ships. The only one problem with this game is that it is addictive. Once you begin to earn money and gain better ships you become addicted. This game is highly promising and i would recommend it to anyone.
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on 18 July 2005
I'm really enjoying this game and it is highly addictive. Just when you think you should close it for the night, a pirate ship sails into view and you just have to attack it and carry on playing! The animation is excellent, the swordfights and dance sequences are great, and there is plenty of opportunity to get better the more you play.
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on 17 January 2005
I played Pirates 10 years ago on the Amiga and it was easily one of the best, most addictive games I had ever played.
As we all moved over to PC's the day's of playing Pirates had gone but where not forgotten, many games came and tried to imitate the great game but none ever recaptured the brilliance of the original.
Until now !
This game has brilliantly recreated the original classic, the graphics are everything the great game deserves whilst still capturing the magic of the original.
As others have said, our prayers have been answered, how right they are !!!
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on 31 December 2004
First of all please note that this review is written having actually purchased and played the full retail version of the game. It's not a review of what might be or of a pre-release version. This is what you actually get.
The game has great potential and is fun to play but is deeply flawed.
First of all it would not run on my computer (despite meeting all of the system requirements easily) without fiddling with the operating system. This in itself is inexcusable for a new game.
Secondly you can only have one game on the go at one time. I played for several hours and saved the game. Then my son wanted a go. I started a new game. Without warning my original game was over written & lost. If I wish to start again I can only do so by over writing my son's game. Again total unacceptable.
The graphics are OK but nothing outstanding and again seems to suffer from bugs. The adjust water detail level for instance doesn't work on my PC.
The sound is poor. All speech is in the form of text, which you read. There is no option to hear the text spoken. Again pretty poor for a brand new game.
Overall a great game, ruined by bugs & flaws. Wait till a new "improved" bug free version is released (if ever)!
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on 3 January 2007
We all love Pirates of the Caribbean, so I bought this as a timely game for Christmas, accepting that other people's reviews already told me about its limits. It turned out to be huge fun. I doubt we'll still be playing it by Easter, but the range of activities (fights, sailing, trading, career, dancing) gives it a lot of appeal. Most families will find this great value. Pity it doesn't build to a higher level.
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