Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!
Nitro Games, the makers of the naval real time strategy game East India Company, have tried their hand, or hook, at a pirate role playing game. All of the core RPG elements are present as you choose one of four pirates with different attributes such as Damage, Toughness, and Speed. Once your pirate is chosen, you must prove your worth to the three pirate clans and gain their respect in battle and by completing missions.
Some of the missions include kidnapping, or rescuing a person from being kidnapped. There’s lots of rumors and uncharted territories filled with legends of danger, gold, and grog a’ plenty. However, there are places that don’t exactly have a welcome mat in place for you. When you land on islands you’ll often be met with sword swingers and riflemen. Some boss battles include battling the sirens and defeating the mighty Kraken itself. As you win battles, you’ll gain experience and unlock new abilities for your hero. Some of the abilities can make you travel faster or improve your fighting abilities when it comes to cannons or swords.
Besides upgrading your own abilities, your ship can be upgraded as well. To unlock ship upgrades you’ll have to sail around and grab blueprints from various shipwrecks scattered across the map. Once you unlock the upgrade you can then purchase it provided you have enough gold to spare.
Earning gold (called pieces of eight in the game) can be done by sinking or capturing ships, completing missions, or by robbing banks. New ships cost thousands and hiring hands can cost a couple hundred or more depending on the unit type. Sadly, earning gold seems to be a method used to lengthen the game play.
Is this game worth $20 though? Pirates of Black Cove has no multiplayer, so the only replay value is choosing a different pirate or trying to collect and read all of the 1,001 pirate jokes floating around the ocean. Trust me; the jokes are not worth going through much effort to retrieve. While most of the jokes are corny, some of them were a little raunchy.
Other than the sexual innuendos, you can expect to find many references to alcohol since it’s used as a method of healing your units, but too much grog will impair them temporarily. There is RTS style violence but it’s not bloody or gory. Bodies do remain on the ground after a unit is defeated. Cussing will also be heard in battle (d*mn and b**tard were used frequently).
There are two main game views: there’s the sailing view, and the third person land mode which feels like a Real Time Strategy game. While the main characters are unique, the various fighting units use the same 3D models. Thankfully, the water effects are spot on and the ships are nicely detailed, though the NPCs standing around town are rather bland and expressionless. Each town has a different layout and the maps are rather colorful and unique.
The audio is a mixed bag. The sailing and battle music loops were pleasant to listen to but the voice acting is hit or miss. I liked most of the voices but some were annoying like the colonel who sounds like his nose is being held while talking. The ship and land battle sound effects were good though.
While some people had a hard time getting the game to run, I didn’t experience any stability issues. Since the game was released a couple of weeks ago, there have already been three patches for it. The game will notify you upon launch if there is an update available.
The interface works but it’s not always intuitive. You can purchase weapons or other upgrades for your ship to use including explosive barrels, a mortar, or even a human catapult. Clicking your mouse fires the canons but to use the extra abilities you have to use the space bar. It took me a while to figure that one out; perhaps I missed that in the tutorial. Some of my other gripes have been addressed by the patches so it’s good to know the developers are on top of things.
Overall this is a cute pirate adventure game with both real time strategy and role playing elements to it. The price tag is a reasonable $20 but bear in mind that there’s not much to do after you beat the game. To see if your system can handle this beast, I recommend checking out the demo before buying it. If you like pirates and don’t mind some cussing and juvenile humor, this game will be right up your alley.
This review has been written by ccgAARRRRRRRH