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    jp's Sid Meir's Pirates! (PSP)

    [June 23, 2007 09:35:26 PM]
    I've started to get a bit tired of this game so I went ahead and retired, at the age of 57 in failing health, from my pirating career. I did not find the evil Marquis de Montalban, but I was able to rescue all of my family members. I did marry the attractive daughter of the Governor of Curacao and I apparently lived the rest of my life extravagantly. Despite being the 2nd most notorious pirate, I retired as a Bishop(!), with a fame of 102, 44,311 gold pieces and 40,300 acres of land.



    Strange at times?

    Yes. The longer I played, the more I noticed little details and inconsistencies that became more and more bothersome. I couldn't really cope with the fact that there was an Incan lost city on the shores of the Caribbean. Sorry.

    I guess I am a bit sad not to have finished it, but then again I feel that since the game allows you to retire (and end your game), I haven't really failed. :-)
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    [June 18, 2007 10:39:01 PM]
    Keeping in tune with a paper I'll be presenting later in the year, I've noticed a series of temporal anomalies (as well as some that are spatial) that are quite curious, even if they are "typical". Actually, what surprised me the most is how blatant they are and how they do actually detract from the overall experience. At least in the sense that my expectations were not met, with the occasional negative game effects.

    This is the most blatant:

    1) Your ship is being pursued by a few pirate-hunter ships yet you are able to sail into port before they catch you. Once in port you decide to divide the plunder. You then see a screen informing you of the amount of months that have passed before you decide to resume your pirating career. (these flash on the screen). As soon as you leave port the ships that were hunting you down are right there in the same exact positions you left them when you entered port!

    Huh? The anomaly here is more interesting because there is an explicit system for keeping track of time. If I hadn't seen those months fly by, I wouldn't have been so surprised to find the "state" of the game on the ocean the same as when I last left it.

    When I first started playing this game I had always assumed that docking in port was equivalent so passing some time and allowing the crew to get some R&R before taking off again. However, I learned my lesson to the contrary when my mutinous crew made it quite clear that they were fed up of sailing around for 13 months in a row! (but hey, we just had a few days off in Tortuga!)
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    [June 16, 2007 10:48:06 PM]
    Strange thing happened. I now have a complete map for the location of my uncle. However, when I go there, the location doesn't exist! (I'm supposed to search nearby FOO, however, there is no FOO in the place the map points too). So, I've been thinking that maybe I got ahead of myself and I need to find some item that adds more places to the map? And then I can rescue my uncle?
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    [June 15, 2007 01:52:07 PM]
    I'm on a quest to get married!
    (and I think that I might be close as well)

    After handing out dozens of ruby rings, dancing like John Travolta (figuratively...after all, the game is set in the 17th century), and dueling with more than a handful of jealous fiances I finally made some progress. An evil spaniard kidnapped the governors daughter. I've since rescued her and need to head back to her hometown (Curacao). Are wedding bells the next step? Will the game care if I still dote on governor's daughters in other ports?

    I think that I've pretty much figured out how most of the game mechanics work...and what the different things mean. (for example, you can also keep you crew happy by looting lots of ships. The more money you have stockpiled, the cheerier they become. I also love the fact that the "crew happiness" logo always switches to a smile when you're attacking another ship. Ha!) The one "attribute" that still escapes my knowledge is my pirate's health. My pirates health is "failing". It seems to always get worse, no matter what I do. I thought that if I divided up the loot (and got a few months rest) it would go up. No suck luck. I have no idea if it is having any sort of impact on the game...I guess that time will tell.
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    [June 11, 2007 07:18:56 PM]
    It's been interesting for me to realize how this game provides such an open-ended environment (sandbox play and all that) while simultaneously restricting it. You can choose to follow the main quest or not, however, the more time you spend "messing around", the older your character becomes.

    I actually haven't played it out, but I assume that you can die of old age before rescuing your family, which is a really cool idea! Most sandbox games have a "campaign" or story that moves along only when you resolve certain key events. You can mess around as much as you like in between, but overall, time doesn't matter. You're stuck in a bubble of sorts. Have fun, but if you want to progress you eventually have to "give in" and go back to the main story.

    This game seems very different. Set your own goals, mess around as much as you like, but be aware that the clock is ticking. Real slow....but ticking nonetheless.

    Well, in theory at least. 'cause I haven't actually died of old age yet!
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    [June 4, 2007 12:43:25 PM]
    I never played Sid Mier's original Pirates, so I'm untainted by retro-nostalgia and all of that. I was very excited to boot this up however for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don't usually get to play any recent releases (being a tightly budgeted gamer and all that, I have to go for pre-played games that have dropped in price a lot). Secondly, it just seemed plain fun! A breath of fresh air in terms of gameplay and style?

    So far, it's been really fun. I haven't made much progress along the main storyline but I've been figuring out what you can do in the game and what it all means. I guess.

    If I had to summarize my experience so far in a few words, I would go with "learning and surprise". The surprise part comes from discovering that this game has a lot of gameplay hidden inside it. As you come upon different situations, you are suddenly presented with what are basically mini-games for you to explore. Well, they're not really mini-games, I guess they're kind of like mini-games+ that are tightly integrated to the game as a whole. For example, if you're lucky enough to get invited to a ball by the governor's daughter, you have to play a dancing mini-game that is basically a timed-button press game. If you've annoyed a certain nation so that you're denied access to port, you can attack the city directly (mini-turn-based strategy game) or sneak in at night (mini-stealth game). So far, I've always been pleasantly surprised to discover when, and how, a new little game will pop-up. Most recently I tried to, ineffectually, break out from jail.

    The learning aspect has to do with how much I've enjoyed learning this game so far. (I only looked at the manual to figure out the controls for the turn-based strategy game). I've constantly found myself re-evaluating my assumptions as well as discovering how to do things I couldn't do before.

    Here's a few examples of things I've "learned"

    (a) I thought that the more ships I captured, the better I would be at taking down enemy ships. Wrong. You only "fight" with your "flagship". The other ships tag along (and can rescue you if something goes wrong). I only recently discovered that you can dynamically change your active ship while sailing around.

    (b) The longer you sail around for, the more mutinous your crew becomes. I thought that docking at port would offset this. It doesn't. So far, the only way I've found to make your crew happy again is to divvy up the loot. (effectively disbanding and forcing you to start anew). When you do this, you're offered to "upgrade" to the next level of captain.

    (c) Captain levels are equivalent to difficulty levels. (and you're allowed to go back down as well!). Initially I thought the game was waaaay too easy. (it is) but it wasn't until I'd risen a few captain levels that I realized what was going on.

    (d) Even though you begin the game in allegiance to a certain nation, in pratice you must pretty much attack and suck up to everyone. Sink a Spanish ship and then visit the English, Sink an English and visit the Spanish and so on. So far I've really attacked the Spanish and have stayed away from taking on the English.

    (e) If you sack a town you can install a governor from the nation of your choice!

    (f) Governors give you land. I have no idea what for.

    (g) If you get 1/4 of a map... you have to try to get the other 3/4s.

    (h) Bigger looking ships aren't necessarily better.

    Of course I still have a lot of questions...and I'm really unsure about how this game is supposed to work itself out. Can I die of old age? What then?

    However, and this is very unusual for me, I'm enjoying figuring these things out as I play the game rather than read a Gamefaq somewhere. Curious, eh?
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    jp's Sid Meir's Pirates! (PSP)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got Bored

    GameLog started on: Thursday 17 May, 2007

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 23 June, 2007

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Fun, and goes well with summer blockbusters.:-)

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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