Pirates of Black Cove

Way back in the Stone Ages of 1987, when we were all still trying to make boot disks that didn’t give us ‘High Memory” errors, Sid Meier’s Pirates hit the scene and reinvigorated strategy games and Pirate lore.  Since then, it’s made the jump to consoles, handhelds and even iOS devices.  The genre seems to have been left alone, with very few attempting to steal the Pirate game treasure from the bowels of Sid Meier’s vessel.  Now on the horizon, a challenger sails into view, desiring to capture the treasure seeking, pirate loving strategy gamers. Pirates of Black Cove is the new strategy game from Paradox Interactive and Nitro Games.

The Story

Stop swabbing the deck and fire those cannons!

Pirates of Black Cove chronicles the warring of three factions, the Pirates, the Buccaneers and the Corsairs.  At the opening of the game, you choose your hero and faction, and take on the quest of pilaging and plundering your way to fame and glory.  In the process, you will need to gain the trust of the other factions, and have them aid you to take down the Pirates of Black Cove, so that you may be the one king to rule them all!

The Gameplay

I'll take 5 swashbucklers and a side of scurvy dog!

Choosing your hero and faction grants you a captain, with a special ability, and a ship to take on your quest to fame.  Pirates blends both strategy and RTS elements in the ways that you undertake your mission.  The main map screen sees you sailing your ship, and using a really clever and fun ship-to-ship combat mechanic, using cannons from either side of your ship, and strategy to flank them and sink them before they sink you.  In addition to the fetch quests, escort missions and seek and destroy antics played out on the map screen, you can take your captain and crew ashore for land missions.  These will have you in command of whatever crew you have recruited at your towns, using tactics and RTS elements to outgun and out-swashbuckle the competition.  Troops come in a variety of flavors, using ranged and melee attacks to support your Captain during his forays on dry land.  It’s here that using your troops wisely, in true RTS fashion, can save you from being mowed down in a firefight.  The missions are interesting and varied, and they do a fairly good job of getting you acclimated to the game and playstyle before throwing you to the wolves.  Your captain will level up, periodically, giving you the chance to gain more abilities and perks.  Throughout the map, while sailing, you will find blueprints that may be exchanged for upgraded weapons and defenses, or unlocking newer ships.  In addition, you will find collectibles and spell components, that you can use to craft potions that will grant you temporary bonuses, like faster speed.  The graphics and sound are fantastic, and do a great job at adding to the environment.  The humor is fantastic, and hearkens back to the similar humor of Magicka(though the two were not crafted by the same developer).

The Verdict

Cross the bridge, we must find Lara's Booty!

Fair to mention are the budget price and release bugs of the game.  Pirates of Black Cove retails for $19.99 and although I’ve heard horror stories about launch bugs, I was proud to say I had experienced none of them.  Still, if that is a concern of yours, there have already been 2 patches rolled out to address those issues.  The ship combat was incredibly fun and the strategy elements inplemented some great ideas.  Still, for me, I was never able to hit that stride where I just couldn’t keep myself away from the game, instead, I found it hard to get hooked.  The pacing seemed a bit sluggish, for me.  Sailing around the map screen could take some serious time, and spell components for speeding that process up were pretty scarce in the early game.  Even though I never found myself hooked on Pirates of Black Cove, it’s difficult to argue the fact that Nitro and Paradox delivered a really fun experience that won’t steal all of your precious booty at the cash register.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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