Sid Meier's Pirates!

Format: PSP
2K Games

5 026555 280679
Age Restrictions: 12+
09 March 2007

Play as a pirate out for revenge against the evil nobleman who wronged your family, create fear on the high seas as you and your crew attack different nations, or go in search of buried treasure. The beauty of this open-ended strategy game is that it lets you live the glorious life of a swashbuckler your own way. You can pursue the career of a privateer, a treasure hunter, an explorer, or a trader. More often than not, you'll dabble in all those fields at the same time...

Sid Meier's Pirates! is one of those games that you can pick up and play for five minutes, or hours at a time, depending on your mood. There is so much to do here that it's certainly a game you'll keep coming back to.

It's odd really, because this game is so repetitive that you'd think it would become very tiresome very quickly, but it doesn't. Even the mini-games (like the old school ballroom dancing game where you have to press the same directional button as shown on screen to dance correctly) are good fun - even though you've played much better versions a million times before on other games.

You start off choosing your main skill. This will help you throughout the game in either hand to hand combat, reloading your ship's cannons quicker, or other various skills. Don't worry though if you choose the wrong profession for your needs, as you can easily persuade other experts to join your crew as you progress.

You start off with one ship and can attack any other vessel on the high seas from numerous different European nations. But beware, attack too many vessels from one nation and you won't be welcome in their ports.

As you sail around the seas, you can travel from port to port trading with the local merchants, finding information out at the local hostelry, finding favour with the head of each port and upgrading your ship at the local dockyard. You can also trade with the local religious settlements and tribes people that are dotted around the map - as well as giving them advice on which ports will welcome immigrants, or are ready for attack. And then there are the pirate outposts you can visit.

There is a back story too, if you wish to follow it. You have been wronged and your family slaughtered. If you can pick up enough clues on your travels from the people you meet, you can plan your revenge by killing those responsible.

The graphics are nicely detailed and the music, although a little twee in places, does the trick.

However you decide to play, one thing is certain, Pirates! is a barrel full of fun and well worth spending your pieces of eight on.

Nick Smithson

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