Pirates: Duels on the High Seas DS
Published by: Oxygen Games
Developed by: Oxygen Interactive Studios
Release Date: Out Now
In Pirates: Duels of the High Seas you'll play the role of a pirate captain who has been down on his luck. Weeks have past and not a single doubloon has been pillaged. With your crew growing restless, it's only a matter of time before thoughts of mutiny cross their minds. As luck would have it, a chance acquaintance with an old sea dog enables you to learn of a treasure. For the price of a mug of grog you obtain a parchment that enables you to start looking for the treasure. Essentially you need to find the seven keys of the seven seas and in order to do this you'll have to battle against the Royal Navy, sea monsters, a Witch Queen and even Blackbeard.
Pirates is all about naval combat. You'll sail around the seas, which are actually tightly confined waterways (it never feels as though you're afloat on the open seas), collecting items in floating crates, picking up castaway crewmen that you can add to your crew if you wish to improve the performance of your ship (for a price of course). You'll control your ship with the directional pad. You'll press the R button to sail forward and the L button to sail backward (a galleon with reverse gears definitely has some novelty value). The A button fires the cannons and the B buttons fires the special weapons you can collect (which include rockets, chain shot, mines, saw blades and flamethrowers). As the game begins you'll find that you have a choice of three ships ranging from the slow moving ship that can take a lot of damage to the small and fast ship that sails swiftly but is rather weak against heavy cannon-fire. Regardless of the ship you choose you'll find the controls are really easy to get to grips with and there's not an ounce of realism here in either the sailing or the combat.
The main problem with Pirates is that it's just such a shallow experience. The levels are monotonous and for the most party unchallenging. The special weapons feel overpowered and only a few enemies seem capable of inflicting significant damage. The main dangers usually come from the sheer numbers of enemies you'll encounter from time to time rather than enemies that are particularly challenging. Whilst the basics of the game-play are solid enough, it's all too repetitive and the whole experience grows stale far too quickly. There's very little strategy here. Sure you can tap four icons on the touch screen to repair your ship, increase the range of your cannons, increase speed and visibility but otherwise it's simply a case of sailing around the waterways, defeating the enemies and searching for those keys. Once you're done with the single-player game (for which there is only one save slot), you can take part in skirmish battles against the AI or human opposition (2-4 players). There is no support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service.
The presentation of Pirates: Duels on the High Seas is a little weak. The action is played out on the top screen, with the map being displayed on the touch screen, and is viewed from a top-down, zoomed out perspective which makes the action easy to see. Graphically the game is rather weak however and it's difficult to argue that the game looks as good as it could do on the DS. At least deaf gamers won't have any problems with the game. The storyline is delivered via text only and all of the information you need is displayed visually.
Pirates: Duels on the High Seas is a simple game in many respects. It's a game that really could have done with having a lot more to do and being much more challenging and inventive to keep you coming back for more. The single-player game is just too repetitive and the multiplayer options certainly won't keep you busy for long. It's a rather bland experience and priced at £24.99 it's simply overpriced and you can't help but think that it won't be long before it's sitting in the bargain bin which is something of a shame because it's not actually a bad game; it just isn't anything special.