Also Known As: Sid Meier’s Pirates! Live the Life, Pirates!
Genre: Action RPG
Platform: X-Box, PS2, PC
Allegiance: Firaxis Games/Atari/2KGames
Vintage: 2004
Rating: E
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dave K
Many years ago, your family was forced into slavery by the evil Marquis Montalban to repay a debt. However, you managed to escape the Marquis’ grasp. Now 18 and seeking to change your destiny, you’ve boarded a ship bound for the Caribbean. During the voyage, the crew mutinied successfully, and upon commandeering the vessel, elected you captain. Now, you’ve arrived in the Caribbean at the helm of your very own vessel, free to do what you wish: to seek riches, fame, or to follow up on the rumours that the evil Marquis brought some of your family over to the New World.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dave K 
Story/Premise
Gameplay
Impact
Visual
Audio
9.00
8.50
8.75
8.50
8.25
Overall 8.75
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: PC 

It’s not at all strange that Sid Meier’s Pirates! Live the Life ended up doing well when it came out, as it followed the extremely successful release of the film Pirates of the Caribbean, which had many people interested in the idea of being a 17th century pirate. So it’s only logical that the game would end up doing well itself, and the fact that it is a truly fun game on its own doesn’t hurt matters either. 

As with most games by Sid Meier, Pirates! is a rather opened ended game. The main idea is to become the most famous pirate of all time. To do that, you can rescue your family from the evil Baron and Marquis, romance and marry governors’ daughters by impressing them with your dancing skills, duel and defeat the other top pirates of the era, discover long lost ancient cities, or invading and sacking other ports – sometimes even installing a new ruling power. As you gain fame points from doing all this you will also gain promotions from the governors of the various nations. 

The gameplay is quite fun. The game has a lot of replayability since you can change your nationality, the era you start in, what your character specializes in etc. Controls are fairly easy using the nine keys on the numpad, although this makes playing with a laptop frustrating, but not impossible. It does take some time to get used to the sailing mechanism, but it is fairly realistic, as different ships will react differently to the wind. Sword fighting is fairly easy to get the hang of, because it is just a bit simpler and can be won through button mashing. Dancing is the odd spot in this game, as some people just can’t get the hang of it while others can get it almost perfect every time, it honestly does require a sense of tempo to do the dancing portions of the game properly. The land battles are fairly simple and are reminiscent of Civilization’s turn based battles. The various types of troops have different attack abilities – some are ranged units, while others clash with swords. Also, terrain affects line of sight as well as providing cover against ranged units. 

The visuals of Pirates! are definitely not remarkably stunning but it’s not an ugly game either. The animation of the sword fighting and dancing parts of the game are excellent, while the animation for the land battles tend to look more like Civilization III or IV, other games also by Sid Meier, a rather simplistic design of a battle lasting three or four seconds before one side flees in terror at the might of the other. However most of the game will probably be spent sailing, and while the texture of the waves isn’t nearly as good as that seen in Half-Life 2, they suffice and the sound effects make it seem that much more realistic. The characters you encounter speak in mumbling gibberish similar to The Sims, so there isn’t really any voice acting. 

This game really is a wonderful way to waste away worthwhile or worthless hours. There’s just no end to what you can do: you can turn the entire Caribbean Dutch by invading the other nations’ cities, or you be a pirate hunter preying solely on other pirate ships. Whatever you want to do is up to you. So if you liked Pirates of the Caribbean this game is definitely one that you should check out.