The Backlog: Sid Meier's Pirates!

We all have game that it takes us a while to get to . Games that sit on a shelf, virtual or physical, until their that fated day that we actually play them. Thus, we bring you the Backlog, a place to take about games that have left popular conversation but still deserve to be discussed. If you missed last week's entry, you can checkout Joseph's look at Knights of the Old Republic II, here.

Sid Meier has created some amazingly addictive games and multiple have had me hooked over the years, however there is one game that has always eluded me until now. Sid Meier’s Pirates! I picked this game up recently on a Steam sale and kind of put it away but finally decided to break it out and give it a shot and guess what, even old Sid Meier games are incredibly addicting. Pirates! is one that always had me interested but I just never crossed paths with it in my youth. When I finally sat down to play it I was immediately hooked and even bought the iOS version right afterwards, which by the way is actually a pretty great version of that game. Sid Meier’s Pirates! scratches the same sort of itch that a game like The Sims might but that has a lot of appeal to someone that just wants a good pirate game. Thinking back, there aren’t a lot of pirate games out there but this is definitely one of the best.

Pirates! starts out with a cutscene introducing your character and his family. When the main character was a child, his family was enslaved by a nobleman after not being able to pay their debts. Your character manages to escape only to come back years later as an adult to exact revenge and track down your lost family.  The game quickly starts you at a port town and sets you loose with a ship and small crew. What’s great about Pirates! is that you get to play it the way you want to. There are multiple factions in the game that are all at war with each other and their alliances fluctuate as time goes on. You can attack anyone at any time and different governors at different ports will react differently to you depending on what your recent actions have been. If you want, you can just keep sailing the seas and attacking ships to your heart’s content and then just sell the booty at the different towns. However if you have attacked a lot of, let’s say, French ships and then try to enter a French town you may have to sneak into the town via a mini-game before you can sell anything. So it’s best to know what ports to visit. There are a plethora of towns to visit and they mostly serve as your market and recruiting stations. You also receive a majority of your missions by talking to governors and by listening to rumors from the bar maids. You can even get into combat scenarios in the bar which leads to the simple yet fun sword fighting mini games.

The sailing and sea battles are big draw for me. Sailing around is a lot of fun, especially when you start building up a fleet by attacking ships and keeping them after you win the battle. You can have four or five ships that you can swap between (granted that you have enough crew on hand to pilot them). The ship to ship battles are a lot of fun and require some smart strategy as you have to use your angle and the wind to your advantage since you can only fire out of the sides of your ship. They can be challenging but taking down another ship is incredibly satisfying. You can also ram a ship, board with your crew, and fight the captain to try to capture the ship with more health and supplies. The ship mechanics are definitely the highlight of the game for me and keep me coming back. Even though the ship parts are my favorite, there is definitely no shortage of things to do and there is a large amount of activities available to keep the game fresh depending on what you are looking to do and how you play. The problems I had with the game were pretty minor but I had some issues with the sailing not always working in your favor with the wind slowing you down and the food stock can drain rather quickly and cause your crew to quickly become upset but overall I really just enjoy playing the game.

For the visuals, I find myself really fond of the game's cartoon like art-style. Along with the great swashbuckling music, it carries a certain charm that reminds me of the old Disney Peter Pan cartoon. And that’s exactly what Pirates! is, a fun adventure. It’s a game that is easy to jump in and out of whenever you want and is just a highly addicting game. If you ever plan on checking it out I highly recommend the PC version. However, the iOS version is just fine. I know I will continue to play this game in the future and would love to see a sequel somewhere down the road. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a revisit to this franchise.

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That's it for this week's entry in the Backlog. Check back next week for our next tale amazing and not-so-amazing games that we should have already played. Until then, let us know what you think of Pirates!, would like to see a sequel? I mean, we're getting a new XCOM, so anything's possible, right?