Hot on the heels of the summer's biggest blockbuster comes this action-adventure casting you as an 18th-century Caribbean buccaneer. With a ship, a cutlass and a nose for booty, you're unleashed on a freeroaming island-hopping campaign of looting and pillaging. Yargh!
Perhaps extending the spirit of their subject matter a little too far, the developers of Age Of Pirates have plundered Sid Meier's Pirates! lock, stock and barrel of rum. The structure of the game is virtually identical. Hang out at the Inn for some rumours and some crew; visit the governor's palace for a Letter of Marque; fence opposing captains when you board their ships; ferry some passengers, trade some cargo, capture rival settlements. Even the over-arching family quest is a straight pull from Sid's minor classic.
What it does bring to the party is a hint of RPG-style levelling-up, and a picturesque engine that renders some fine sunset views. Watch as your crewmen scuttle among the rigging, marvel at the rippling, reflective ocean.
It's a game you want to like, all that buccaneering on azure blue seas, trading broadsides with passing Spaniards and indulging in sodomy with the powder monkey. Trouble is,
from the unfriendly, baffling set-up screen, everything is unwieldy and cobbled together. Boarding battles are unsophisticated rucks, finding the right people in port can be a lottery and ship-to-ship combat is frustratingly inexact. There are pieces of great in here, but the whole thing's not quite seaworthy.
Sid Meier could sue