Arghhh’s for Reaction
A pirate’s life for ye? Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships promises to let you live out your swashbuckling fantasies vicariously on your computer monitor. Does the game live up to its promise? Let me answer it this way, can you trust a pirate?
There is a code of the road, so to speak, that in pirate circles there must be honor among thieves; it’s a brotherhood. However, this golden rule does not apply to the lone, rogue rapscallion. So, in answer to the question posed above, Age of Pirates 2 delivers some of the booty, but it’s obvious there was some skimming going on. In other words, you can expect some broken promises.
I have not played the original Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales to any great extent. But, what I have seen leads me to the conclusion that Age of Pirates 2 seems more like an expansion pack. It looks, sounds, and plays almost identically. There are some obvious differences, including a different and dynamic storyline, in addition to a larger map, but with such low-res graphics and limited sound effects and voiceovers, this game should have been rebuilt from the ground up. The original game is not such a great platform to begin with, even though the result is a game with more depth and content. Dated graphics, extremely difficult battles, and small, hard-to-read text hamper the enjoyment.
Age of Pirates 2 is essentially a RPG, combing action and economics sim elements. There are many different ways to attack this game, and that goes beyond choosing your character and his affiliation. The way you play the game, the decisions you make, will affect other elements in the gameplay and storyline, that’s why it’s called dynamic. In this sense, the game has a very realistic feel to it, adapting and changing to your style of play. The replay value of such a game is tremendous, but you’ll have to get over the budget-style presentation and other flaws.
An interesting concept is that you don’t have to be a pirate in Age of Pirates 2, but regardless of who you become, you will eventually deal with pirates indirectly and directly. Regardless of the character that you choose at the outset of the game, it’s the paths you take that ultimately determine the personality you will become whether it’s the commander of a majestic fleet, or a merchant that never ventures upon the sea. Of course, the option to become an adventure-addicted rogue pirate is always tempting.
Affiliations with factions are also offered including the English, French, Dutch and Spanish. For the most part these countries are fairly well balanced, meaning that there are not a lot of differences among them. The differences in weapons, speed, craft maneuverability, and motivations are subtle, but the longer you play the game the more significance these details become. Relationships among the countries also differ. The Brits and the Spanish don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but some agreements can be arranged with other factions through diplomatic means including things such as trade.
Age of Pirates 2 is not just an all-out war, though, if you want to play the game that way, you’re heartily encouraged. Every player is going to need cash to support his or her venture. The way you acquire this income is up to you. Commerce is one way. Set up a shop in the port and sell goods to passing ships. If you want a taste of the high seas while maintaining your commerce profession, you can get into the transportation business by commanding ships to and from exotic locations, buying and selling goods. But as I mentioned, you’ll always be in danger of being attacked by pirates. This means that you’re going to have to equip your ship with weapons and a crew trained in the art of sea warfare, including navigators and cannon officers. This is going to cost you, but as with any venture you pursue, you’re going to need more than just cold, hard cash.
Unique to this game is the P.I.R.A.T.E. system. Every letter represents an attribute that you will increase by successfully completing various challenges or just by being good at what you do. P stands for power. It will allow you to inflict more physical damage. It will also increase your weapons in size, volume, and strength. Allowing you to see and hear things more acutely, the I stands for insight. It will increase your accuracy with weapons in addition to your stealth skills.
The R stands for reaction, and affects the overall performance of your weapons. Authority takes care of the A. It assesses your character’s rank and determines how many people that you can command. T is for Talent. This category is broad but extremely important. It affects your general ability to do everything. Talent will help increase your ability to level-up more quickly in a variety of disciplines including trade, weapons, navigation, and the acquisition of new skills. Finally, E is for endurance, and it will affect your personal heath as well as help protect your vested interests such as ships and inventory. E will increase your health points and make you less susceptible to attacks.
Age of Pirates 2 is a challenging game, and in many cases unfairly so. As your character levels-up, so do the enemies, but they seem to increase in skills and stats in leaps and bounds while your progress is minimal. The battles can be extremely tough, and I always seem to be on the defensive and never on the offensive. Regardless of which skills I had increased, I never felt in control during a battle. Winning was more a matter of pure chance than skill. Still, I was determined that there is a way to gain superiority in this game, though I’ve yet to find any evidence of this. It would be fun to be able to compete online with other similarly leveled players, just to see if I have these tactical skills under control. I think that the average player will find the battles in this game extremely frustrating. The only advice I can offer is to save, save, and save again – eventually something positive will happen.
Age of Pirates 2 is relatively easy to learn, as long as you can read the text. The interface is straightforward and there’s nothing too complex in terms of rules or moves. I would have preferred a bit more mouse action as there is a lot of Enter key commands to be made. More voiceovers would have made this much more enjoyable, as would have better graphics. Age of Pirates 2 is only recommended for seasoned sea dogs. Landlubbers need not apply.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.3 Graphics
Dated graphics. The low resolution makes text difficult to read. 3.0 Control
Basic control system, but more mouse action would be welcome. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Needs more voiceovers. Music and sound effects are repeated. 3.4 Play Value
A different game every time, if you can get passed the flaws. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.