This game is a true classic and has been around in one form or another since 1987 when it was made for the Commodore 64 by MicroProse. The game has come along way since then and has been updated with 3D graphics and smoother game play. Much of the game is the same as it was in its initial release but now has a mini dance game and better turn based land battles. In all this is one of the best versions of the game so far with ports of it and the old one going to smart phones and pads. How far Sid Meier, Firaxis and 2k Games takes this title is still to be seen but I doubt that they will let such a popular title like this die and fade away. I am sure it will go to see “One more time”, if not more, if you forgive the pun.
Sid Meier’s Pirates! Live The Life features rich 3D game play, especially on the sea. You can see just how the wind affects your travel in a more real way, though doing those sharp turns I am not sure if a tall masted ship would actually tip as far as it does in the game. Doesn’t matter really as it just looks cool and adds to the excitement of the battle. One point, if you find that the wind has died down, make sure you hit them with chain shot and grape shot to slow them down or they just might get away from you. Once you do catch up to them and are able to board another exciting element, that is almost cinematic, starts, unless they just surrender, you get to fight the captain of the vessel for his ship. Just don’t loose or you will find yourself wasting away in a prison cell which will affect your health and how long you can keep going out to sea.
The battles at sea, the sword duels and the dancing all are controls by the keypad. While in the game, at least on the PC, your number lock will be turned off so that the keypad can be used to controlee the game. So all you old gray gamers out there, I am one of them too, if you remember how to play the game from the old ’64 then you will be able to jump right into this one with no problems. I will say if you haven’t played in awhile stay on Apprentice Captain for awhile to get the hang of things. Using the keypad can be challenging especially when trying to get the perfect dance with the Governor’s Daughter. To get the very best gifts you have to keep her spinning so that you can sweep her off her feet. Sorry ladies, there is not a way to play a female character in Pirates! There really were not that many female pirates in the Caribbean to begin with any way.
The premise of the story, yes there is actually a story and plot to the game, is that at a young age of 8 you witness the capture and enslavement or indenturement of your relatives. You manage to get away from the evil Marquis de la Montalban and 10 years later book passage to the New World to get revenge. During the trip the captain of the ship that you are on pushes the crew too far and you mutiny and take the ship as your own. Now you have a ship named “Revenge” as you sail into the city of which ever faction you singed with. You are able to sign aboard with the Dutch, French, English or the Spanish. The choice is up to you which you want to choose and the only real advantage over one or the other is that of the starting location once you are in the Caribbean.
Another rather cool part of the game is the ability to change your sail and flag. If you have the inclination and time you can also create your own graphics to be used on the sail and flag making the game experience truly your own. I did that in the game that I am playing by using my SCA house badge for the flag and the Armorial display of my arms or shield to be used on the sails. It is really nice when a game developer gives you the chance to really make the game more personal to you. Just one of the many reasons that Sid Meier games are so popular and cherished.
This is a highly addictive game and fun to play even after all these years. This game, Sid Meier’s Pirates! Live The Life was cutting edge for graphics and game play when it was released in 2004 just as the original in 1987 was cutting edge when it was released. It is one of the best Pirate and Caribbean ship simulators that has been made as well as one fun RPG that you can play again and again. You will always find yourself coming back for “One More Time” at sea.