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Age Of Pirates 2: City Of Abandoned Ships (PC)

Age Of Pirates 2: City Of Abandoned Ships (PC)

Almost three years ago Age Of Pirates: Caribbean Tales was released – an adventure style RPG simulation game which places you on the open sea in the hunt for treasure and glory. As well as swordfighting you could trade goods and control cities and forts. The follow up has been released recently by Akelia and Playlogic which promises to build on the original concept with more up to date features and options.

This time the storyline is put in the hands of the player as they sail around the Caribbean in control of either a corsair, an adventurer or a pirate. Each of these characters have statistics which are governed by the P.I.R.A.T.E.S. system – a set of attributes which are connected to how well you can fight or draw your sword, how strong you are and how much you can loot or carry. A similar system also controls ship behaviour such as combat abilities and navigation prowess. It is a well coded system which is complex by design and it plays an important part in how your character will improve over time and much like real life, the more you actually do something, the better at it you become.

Obviously a huge part in a game like this will be travelling in a ship and you will sail into many ports as well as hiring crew and getting goods to keep all your crewmates happy – if you don’t then they can initiate a mutiny. Leaving the ship means you can travel around the towns bartering with shopkeepers as well as stopping at taverns for a drink or a chat. There are games to play as well in the pubs and you can visit caves and dungeons to search for hidden treasures buried by pirates. If this doesn’t appeal you had head for the leaders of a location to kill them and take control. All of this combined means there is a huge amount of room for varied gameplay offering plenty of scope for long term gameplay.

Unfortunately the developers have hoped to assume that the players will work all of this out without a guiding hand – there is no tutorial for the game at all. Granted you get a short demonstration of swordfighting basics but there are no hints or guides in the game to steer you in the right direction. The difficulty curve might indeed alienate a huge portion of the potential audience before the game really gets into full swing. This is complicated by the fact there are 10 difficulty levels which only complicate matters rather than make it more approachable. If you set the game to the easiest beginner level there are still no guides or useful information to help you on the your quest. I would class myself as an experienced gamer however i found myself hopelessly plundering the menus with the hope I would work out what to do – an oversight like this is somewhat unacceptable in the modern gaming world and I am stunned this slipped past the play testing phase. Additionally, the fact you are asked various complicated questions on the ships to gain special information of items means you will need an internet browser open to be successful. It is another pretty ridiculous concept that adds nothing to the game.

The problems persist with a lack of map system which means it is easy to get lost when exploring one of the various islands – even purchasing maps to help really doesn’t ease the problem and you will wander aimlessly for quite some time in various locations, trying to find your goal.

Another issue for me arose when I analysed the experience system – you earn much more from combat situations than you ever do from peaceful and successful trading with communities. I appreciate that combat is always an exciting aspect of a game however it would be nice if the developers had balanced the game a little better to allow peaceful traders the opportunity to fully utilize this strategy.

Up until now I can deal with the problems, however an issue which annoyed me was the combat system. Lining up the ships to unleash a volley of cannon fire is extremely painful, mainly because maneuvering into position is time consuming and the firing and reloading section can take up to 20 seconds, even with a very skilled crew onboard. Battling more than one ship is a chore and the nautical view is almost useless. Switching to map view allows you to travel much quicker but if you enter into any combat based situation then you are instantly forced back into nautical view. FIghting on the ships is not a wonderful experience either as you are normally pitted against a few enemy sailors which means you end up slashing until you win. Some balancing issues occur with gun fire as well as often you will only injure enemy but when they fire your guys will die immediately.

Graphically the game is not very impressive with clear limitations in city locations as the characters you meet will all be very similar in design – unfortunately this also carries across to the building design. The outcome of this is that many of the locations will look similar to the ones already visited and there is quite often a feeling of deja vu. Equally poor is character animation and movement which is very stiff and not very realistic. To be fair, the engine does offer some particle effects with smoke and fire are well represented.

The audio side is stronger with an array of sailor style music setting the mood, however the sound effects are weak and combat in particular is ruined by a poor selection of muted noises.

If you fancy a multiplayer element then you need to look elsewhere as the game is strictly single player only.

Age of Pirates 2: City Of Abandoned Ships is a game which could have been great, however the sum of the parts combined with the issues end up with a purely mediocre title which will appeal to a small audience and excite very few. I would recommend this to only the most patient and tolerant of people who can overlook the lack of tutorials and overall plodding game speed.

Gameplay
65

Has potential but it plods along, ground down by issues in a variety of areas.
Graphics
55
A very poor engine which gives nothing to the atmosphere.
Sound
60
Decent soundtrack but poor SFX.
Value
50
No multiplayer and single player will not appeal to many gamers.
Overall
50

Sadly disappointing.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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