Sid Meier's Pirates!

In the age where mediocre games with movie-sized blistering budgets and high profile voice acting have become standard, Sid Meier's Pirates goes in the other direction, focusing on the basics of what makes games great.

The first thing that strikes you when loading up the game is there's no voiced narration: no Patrick Stewart to offer crisp Shakespearean eloquence about the perils of the sea. Instead, the characters in the game talk in nondescript Simlish (and maybe a mix of German) which, although initially seems lacking, gives the game a sense of earthly warmth and charm. That homely vibe permeates into the core gameplay as well.

Refusing to be pigeon-holed into one genre, the game combines various elements that are entertaining enough to not be dreadfully labeled as "mini-games". Travelling around the world map, players need to be mindful of wind, shallows and food. Getting close-up, the ship battles become more action-oriented as you try to manoeuvre your customised (and most likely stolen) ship to fire broadsides.

Clash into an enemy ship and Disney-like swashbuckling duels ensue, where players dodge and attack using the numeric keypad.

Pirates wouldn't be pirates without plundering, and when attacking towns, it turns into a simple but effective turn-based strategy game. Woo and win the heart of a Governor's daughter by dancing to her moves - mildly resembling Beat Mania or DDR - but less shameful. Each gameplay aspect has its own place, joyously gelling together to create a diverse but pleasant experience.

The downside to living the life of a pirate is there's no higher calling, no goal to achieve other than to hoard as much money as you can.

The quests to rescue your family and get revenge are a nice diversion, but don't offer enough to carry the game. And having to periodically split your plunder (meaning disbanding crew, splitting money and selling off other ships) detracts from the pacing of the game.

Also, the lack of retaliation for plundering is disappointing: take down a bustling Spanish town and get only one Pirate Raider on your tail? It would've been exciting to pit your ship against a whole Spanish Armada (I fondly recall taking on hordes of pirates in Apple II's Taipei).

However, for the first 15 hours or so it's difficult for such cynicism to creep in - Sid Meier's Pirates! may not have all the frills, but it's got plenty of thrills.

Visuals: Cartoony, but still crisp and vibrant Audio: No voiced narrative, sound effects during duels and sailing the high seas is impressive Gameplay: Different modes of gameplay (sailing, fighting and dancing) keep you entertained for hours Score: 3 1/2 out of 4 Publisher: Atari Developer: Firaxis URL:

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Funky Zealot

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?