|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Akella||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Playlogic||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 28, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
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.