Caribbean at your leisure and no matter were you go venture you will never be far from some soft of a particular goal to accomplish. This is one of the great simplicities about Pirates, you are never pressured to carry out any mission at any time nor are you ever told what to do. However you will need to keep your eye on a couple of factors. Food is very important obviously, so as your crew grows in size your food stocks will deplete quite quickly. This is easy to resolve though, either drop into a friendly port and buy some food or take over an enemy vessel. The second point you must keep an eye on is your crew's moral. You must make sure you share out your plunder between your shipmates or you will end up in trouble as the crew will start to leave in ever increasing numbers.
The broadside battles you will have with enemy ships provide some tactical thrills. When you decide to attack a ship you have to keep and eye on the wind. As you have no motor to power the boat the wind direction plays a huge roll in ship battle. You must negotiate the wind in order to quickly pull along side a ship and then make sure you can get away just as quickly. The problem with sail boats is that once you have a good shot on your enemy they will also have an equally good shot on you. The tactics of battle don't end there though, you have a choice of different ammo for different jobs, the first thing you have to try and do is fire chain shot to destroy the sails, then you can go in with the grape shot to take out a few of the crew. If you get too close to the enemy ship you will end up boarding the ship which will basically mean you will have to have a dual with the captain. If you defeat the captain you can then take the ship and take it to the nearest port where you will be able to sell the ship and all its cargo, then if you go to see the governor you can gain a reward. If you are lucky you may be able to dance with the governor's daughter.
All the mini games such as the sword fights and dancing are all very similar. You have a 1-9 keypad in the bottom right of the screen which replicates your number page on your keyboard, each number has a particular move, so you must press the buttons or click the on screen buttons in order to make you character fight or dance. For example when you're having a dual with your opponent 7 is a chop while 4 is a thrust and 1 is a slash. This game play is a little jerky in practice and it can be a little boring as some moves will get you far better results than others. Depending on the background the fight will always take the same route. For example, if you are winning a fight on a certain type of ship you will always knock the opposing captain backwards down the steps and then knock him backwards into the fire behind him. This in my opinion is very repetitive as are all the mini games, everything looks the same and only the characters will change and they don't even look that different. Most of the mini games are easy to win so long as you have good timing with exception to boarding an enemy ship. If you haven't managed to kill enough men with your cannons etc you could find you crew out numbered which will give you very little time to beat the captain.
Possibly the most boring of all the mini games is when you decide to infiltrate a port or escape from jail. This is basically an overhead view of a town with you in the middle. You must navigate yourself around the town without disturbing the guards. Even though you have a couple of moves available such as the ability to climb walls, duck, or knock out guards from behind it still isn't the best mini game I have ever played.
The best of the mini games is the turn based game that occurs when you decide to attack an enemy port. You will have three types of units at you disposal, officers, sailors and buccaneers. Officers and sailors are basic melee units while the buccaneers are weapons based units which are armed with muskets. In battle you will have to position your units to take advantage of the terrain and battle. The main object is to destroy the enemy but if you demoralise them that is good enough. If you win the battle you can take all the plunder from the town and then you can switch the town allegiance which is always good to earn a few points with the boss.
Graphically Pirates looks very nice yet simple. The sails will gently bellow in the wind, if you happen to get a good hit on a ship the smoke and fire all looks great and you can see fish in the sea just below the surface of the sea. The audio is also very simple, a set of sea shanties mixed with great effects for the cannon fire and the sea. Overall Pirates looks and sounds very charming, everything is nice and simple.
Sid Meier's Pirates is a game that lots of people will enjoy because of the sheer simplicity, other may find it over simplified. The mini games are very charming but they don't offer much in the way of variety once you have played the game for an hour of so and the game play can feel a touch clunky in some of the mini games. Apart from that, the rest of Sid Meier's Pirates is great fun, the pure simplicity is genius as you could loose hours upon end if you're not careful. In a couple of words Sid Meier's is one of the most enjoyable, charming and simple games that has been seen in years.
8.5 out of 10
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