|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Flying Lab||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-Multiple Online||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Not imposing a level restriction among players means that virtually everyone can interact immediately in this world. Players that do gain more experience will eventually reach a level that will give them access to larger vessels. Of course these vessels are the objects of everyone's desire, but you've got to work your way up in order to become captain of one. Only the Europeans will be allowed to command such a ship, but the operative word here is "allow." The pirates can take these vessels by force if they have the ability.
There are lots of ship battles in this game. Fortunately there are many different levels to the ship combat such as the number of ships involved and the types of ships and weapons. In an effort to give newbies the ability to confront more experienced characters, it's possible for them to unite as a fleet of smaller vessels to attack larger Galleons. These smaller boats are more maneuverable and more difficult to target.
In ship combat, you want to disable the ship not destroy it, since you'll want to loot it or steal it, or both. The more damage a ship takes, the more difficult it will be to control it. Taking out the sails is a good strategy. Once the ship is disabled, it's time to board it. Here you will have to engage in melee combat with the enemy crew. Some battles can be won quickly if the captain can be captured. Other times you might be able to dispose of most of the crew by firing shrapnel from your cannons before you board.
The ships come equipped with large cannons, which can be directed at enemy vessels, but you have to keep in mind that your boat is essentially a sailboat, so you have to take the direction of the wind into consideration. This could leave you open to attack from different sides. There are plenty of variables to consider.
Commodities for sale and trade will be produced by the various factions. These goods which include rum, spices, and weapons, to name a few, are manufactured with raw materials that are gathered. The process to manufacture these goods is complex and detailed. If you want to make rum for instance, you're going to need all of the ingredients such as sugarcane and molasses. Then you'll need a distillation plant, oak barrels, and a warehouse to store the finished product in. This commodity-production system is built over time, so it's not as daunting as it sounds. It's another example of the developer's commitment to keep the gameplay fresh for as long as possible since there are so many things to produce.
The oceans are expansive, the characters are lifelike, the ports and towns are spacious with lots of details. Non-playable characters wander around through the streets helping to create a believable, realistic atmosphere. The Galleons are impressive. They are majestic, massive, and somewhat intimidating. They are rendered with great detail, from the wind-blown mast to the random knots on the wooden deck. Ambient sound effects enforce the realism. You can hear footsteps of characters as they approach from offscreen. The explosions of the cannons is sure to rattle your subwoofers.
With Pirates of the Burning Sea, you're in for the long haul, possibly a keelhaul. The premise is fueled by historical accuracy, so there is a lot of realism to the gameplay, yet this isn't just a game for nerds. It's deep, but the curve is gradual, which will accommodate a wide range of gamers. Alright now matey, you've heard enough, now off we ye.
CCC Senior Writer