Sid Meier's Pirates!
Good: Simple and addictive gameplay
Bad: Some minigames get repetitive
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CRISPIN: Ship blasting, town sacking, cutlass slashing, lass romancing, treasure hunting—if it’s part of pirate pop culture, it’s plundered by Pirates!, a slightly tweaked port of the acclaimed PC action-role-playing game. But whether Pirates’ life really is for thee depends on how much you adore its grog-soaked subject matter (and I do), as well as your level of patience for playing the same few minigames over and over.
Like the classic computer game on which it’s based, Pirates! is more an amalgamation of fun little challenges strung together by a booty of miniquests and an overall plot to avenge your family’s nasty fate. Sword fights and ballroom dancing boil down to timed button presses. Sacking towns just takes a few minutes of strategic placement on a chess-piece battlefield. None of it’s hard (pick a trickier difficulty level, time period, or nationality to dodge a total cakewalk), and most of it’s fun...for a while. Eventually, my impatience with the same little games set in like seasickness, but the quests and fleet of ships and play-as-dastardly-as-you-dare piracy kept me from hopping overboard.
G. FORD: An open-ended game like Pirates! is dangerous for a player like me, someone who has that strange need to collect every shiny bauble a game hides and complete all insignificant side missions. I went two go-rounds to finally finish its primary revenge missions. But I didn’t mind, because its eclectic minigames and do-anything structure hooked me big time.
Once you learn the rules and choose the right difficulty, the sword fighting, city sacking, and ship blasting prove divine. Dancing and sneaking...not so much, and a waypoint system akin to that of GTA: San Andreas to keep your adventures in order would’ve been handy, but any pirate life has its compromises.
DEMIAN: At this point, I’d like to stress that a score of 6.5 is above average. Because Pirates! is definitely an above-average game—I was totally hooked on it for a while, even staying up late to pillage just one more town or sink one more hapless Spanish trade galleon.
Unfortunately, sometimes I was also up late playing the “dance with the governor’s daughter” minigame, the mind numbingness of which infects Pirates! like an aggressive strain of scurvy. I love the game’s open-ended format and even its basic premise, but most of the minigames (not just the dancing one—I’m also sending the rapier battles and stealth bits to the stockade) are repetitive and, well, a bit crap, honestly. It’s worth playing, but save your doubloons until you can get it for a steal.
Publisher: 2K Games
Good: Enriches the characters of the popular anime
Bad: Short, easy, simplistic
In Anime Terms: Filler episode
8.0 8.5 6.5
The verdicts (out of 10)
Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.