Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales ReviewCain Dornan
Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales is the latest title from Akella, a developer known for the work in developing games that feature the ruthless, blood-thirsty rebels of the sea; pirates. This latest title, a mixture of action adventure with some RPG elements, isn’t as impressive as one would have hoped. While the ideas are in place to create a solid and engaging game, the lackluster and often confusing single player mode, ordinary and occasionally frustrating controls, lifeless villages and a multiplayer mode that never seems to have anyone online, all combine to create an experience that is hardly impressive, and is only really worth a purchase for those who can’t satisfy their jolly-roger piracy acts elsewhere.
Throwing you aimlessly into the game without any explanation as to what you’re doing, where to go or what the aim of the whole game is, you’re left stranded on an island that varies according to the options screen that you’re faced with when first beginning a new single player adventure. Here, you’re able to choose the gender of your character, your nationality; your association with other nations, the aggressiveness of other nations, the development stage of the island settlements and so on. Following this, your shown a cinematic boosting some pretty water effects and ship detail, telling the story of some lost family or such that doesn’t really help to give you an idea as to what you’re doing. Are you meant to begin following the torn map that some mysterious messenger gave you from your long-deceased father upon first arriving on the island? Or do you travel the high seas aimlessly trying to find something to do, somewhere to go, all the while being bombarded by enemy ships as you attempt to come to grips with the frustrating unresponsive control scheme to respond with your own attack?
That’s one of the main problems that faces Age of Pirates: it tries to offer gamers a free-roaming game that offers several things to see and do at any one time. Unfortunately, the developers have failed to present this successfully, with the end result being little more than a mixture of confusion and aimless gameplaying that doesn’t really reward you for progressing through the game. You’ll soon consider progression as being little more than a chore, and begin questioning just exactly why you are continuing to play the game.
But that isn’t to say that the game doesn’t offer any gameplay, as there’s a fair amount to be had. You begin the game with a fairly basic ship and crew, and from here you can work your way up to bigger and better things. Being a pirate, there’s little reason to waste your hard-earned gold pieces on purchasing new ships. Instead, you can take to the high seas and board other ships, overthrowing the ship’s crew and captain and taking control.
That brings me to the game’s battle controls; while on the ship, you’re plagued with limited control over the firing of your cannons as you never really seem to have much control over when they fire. The controls feel very unresponsive when it comes to firing your cannons, as they never seem to fire when you would expect them to. You can fight whilst on-foot, which is also quite lackluster, attacking colonies and building a reputation amongst the other settlements, negative or otherwise. Taking control of a colony and overthrowing the governor, for example, will change your standing with others.
If you’re looking for a quick spell from the single player mode, there is an online multiplayer mode available. However, with the likelihood of finding someone to play online being almost non-existent, you’re likely better off just ignoring this mode completely, unless you manage to set up a LAN to give it a shot.
There’s nothing too impressive about the game’s visuals either, however, some great water detail and effects, mixed with ships that do look reasonably impressive, help to keep the game from being an eyesore. Some of the settlements aren’t too exciting to look at or explore, however, some of the more larger settlements (which are still small when compared to similar games on the market) do offer some nice visuals complete with markets, pubs, governor villas and such. The game’s sound is a bit less impressive: there’s no real voice acting here, and most of the music is wishy-washy.
If there was a clearer storyline and a smaller nudge in the right direction from the start, Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales could have been a reasonably enjoyable game. As it stands, however, there’s little reason to play through the entire game, as it often feels aimless at times, even after you overcome the initial confusion at the start. Strictly a title for the pirate sailing fan.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.