Sid Meier’s Pirates! – Strategy PC game

Sid Meir’s Pirates is a PC game I bought years ago and have played on and off ever since. I was also able to purchase it recently via Steam, which allows me to play it without ever needing the game CD.

The underlying theme is revenge on the rich bloke that has taken your family captive and then hidden himself in the Caribbean. You get to choose from 4 starting nationalities – English, French, Dutch and Spanish – by signing up in a pub before your adventures begin.

Multiple levels of difficulty, multiple starting eras – which can impact on the difficulty – and multiple skill-sets, all result in a game with massive re-play options. Added to the above, are the different routes you can take to achieve your objectives. You could play a rip-roaring, attack anything that moves pirate, or a privateer who has been licensed to attack the ships of other governments (assuming peace has not broken out…), or even a merchant with a fleet of ships (which, by the way, is NOT the easy option).

Another aspect is that your character has a limited seafaring life, which is affected by available medicine, his clothing protection and his skills. I remember being caught off guard by this in my very first game, when I divided the plunder and was informed that my character was too old to continue his career!

Approaching Florida Keys – one of many small towns in Sid Meier’s Pirates

In the course of your career, asides from rescuing your 4 family members and catching the evil rich bloke, there are 9 famous pirates to beat, their pirate treasure to locate and loot, ship improvements to make, upgrades to your character – clothing, special items and promotion from the governors. Then there are the various governors’ daughters to dance with – plain, attractive and beautiful, each with their own dancing skills, maximum allowed mistakes made by you as you dance, as well as the resulting benefits and potential impact on your fame level.

Be advised that the game is attractive and almost endlessly playable, but it is not like a first-person shooter, although there is a sort of 3-d experience available as you fight ship battles and in a limited way as you fight duels with your sword. As the difficulty level goes up, the game is not going to be boring, but you will find that it is definitely a thinking game, balancing time it will take to do something versus your character’s age, abilities and available ship. The wind blows from right to left across the Caribbean – and as you have a sailing ship, you need to be careful how you sail as getting back upwind can be a long, frustrating journey, tacking again and again, with issues like running out of food or a mutiny up front in your mind.

Easy to play as a beginner, hugely difficult on the higher levels, more fun game-play than totally accurate simulation, Sid Meier’s Pirates is highly recommended if you hanker after sailing ships, cannon and gold plunder!

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