Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Aug. 15th 2005

Introduction:If you've been around gaming the last 20 years you know the Sid Meier's classic game Pirates! It's been around since the good ol' days and Pirates has been remade for almost every console that's been released. Thankfully to 2K Games and Fraxis we managed to get this recent PC version ported over to the Xbox. Ready for some swashbuckling good times, well check out our review of Pirates.

The Game:Sid Meier's Pirates hasn't really changed ever since it was released on the Apple home computer in 1986. I've been playing this game since that time, my adventure started on the Commodore 64. Shockingly they have decided that if it's not broken, don't fix it. If you know the game from any of its earlier versions you will know exactly how this 2005 version plays.

For those who are new to Sid Meier's Pirates it's a defiantly a game you should take a look at. Pirates give you the chance to live out a life of swashbuckling action, plundering until you can't raise your sails. When you start the game you will have to pick a nation to represent, but by no means do you have to stay on that side once the game starts. You get to choose from the
French, Spanish, Dutch or the English. There are two other non-playable factions in the game, Pirates and Native Indians. In the time era Pirates represents the Spanish mainly ruled the seas, so for easier gameplay pick the French or English and get rich off plundering doubloons from prospering Spanish towns.

Once you have your alliance with a nation you're off and sailing. Life as a captain gives you the freedom to do whatever you please and this is the best part of Pirates, no restrictions or rules in which you have to play. If you follow the mission objectives you will be hunting down pirates, helping your nation defeat rivals and looking for your lost family. There is some micro-management that you will have to deal with, but everything is simplified to make the gaming experience as easy as possible. You can have a wide range of ships, specialists, and ship upgrades to help you in your journey. Managing everything is active when you dock in a town then you have the opportunity to visit the tavern to gather men and get advice, visit the governor to receive promotions, see the merchant or shipwright to manage your inventory and ships or divide up the plunder to end the game or make a grumpy crew happy. In my opinion the game could have more features that involve personal and crew customization, hopefully they try something new for the next update of the game.

The only major change in this version of Pirates from previous consoles is the addition of ballroom dancing. Ballroom dancing comes into play when you're wooing the governor's daughters, so your strap on your dancing shoes and hit the floor. I found the console version to be easier then the PC, mainly because of the button press helpers that flash on the screen. If you want to dance the hard way just increase the difficultly and those buggers will go away. Some other minor changes which are cool is the slow motion matrix like effect when attacking a larger party then your own. They also added some new content and unlockable art on the Xbox version differing it a bit from the PC. If you the Xbox or PC version I wouldn't say it really worth it to get the other version considering it's pretty much the same game altered marginally.

The biggest problem with Pirates is that the game is too easy even on hard levels and it can get repetitive. You basically go in circles using the rinse and repeat technique to accomplish every goal in the game. Pirates is luckily that the gameplay is flawless and really fun, so even if you are just sailing in circles your having fun while you do it.

Graphics & Sound:Like I stated earlier, Pirates was originally released on the PC earlier in the year so I'm sure they just ported it over to the Xbox. After playing both versions the PC version is obviously better, but the Xbox runs a good comparison. The reflections when sailing and weather effects are a nice touch and show off the game the most. On the other side the characters models could have been done better, but when they are placed into a busy scene it looks good. Most importantly the Pirates experience runs smoothly with little hiccups or glitches you might get. Pirates looks good, but it's nothing extravagant.

The audio is Pirates sets the historical tone from the time period the game represents. They didn't ruin anything by throwing a techno beat overtop of some classical number or anything like that, so I'm happy. Pirate's effects sound great from the gunfire to the port music. I'm surprised they didn't thrown in overdubs for the captions, which means you'll have to read. As a period piece this game is a success the only thing that could of made the audio better is some minor voice-over work.

Innovation:The category where Pirates really falls short is innovation. Although like the new revision of Doom 3, do we want the same classic gameplay updated, or a totally new experience. It's easy to say this version was low on innovation because the ballroom dancing segment doesn't cut it, but the total design is still innovative because the formula still works. It's a classic, it's updated in graphics and console, but Pirates fails to do anything new.

Mojo:Pirates plays like butter, it's fun to take on the role of a pirate in this old school mojo ride. Mojo emerges from the respect demanded by keeping it real after everything else in the market has tried a facelift. Old timers will agree that Pirates was one of the best. Blowing up ships, backstabbing your country and getting the girl, never gets old. Pirates still rings with the mojo flavor.

Lowdown:Sid Meier's Pirates an old school delight. This version of the game will keep traditionalists and causal gamers happy, but hardcore fanatics might find the gameplay too repetitive. If you've played and liked Pirates in the past then this is a sure buy, but if you're new the series rent it and see if it grabs you like it did me years ago.

Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8. Final: 8 /10


  • Experience an all-new story built upon the most fun and compelling features of the original Pirates! game
  • Live out multiple quests through a non-linear, open life timeline where every decision poses distinct challenges and possibilities
  • Witness the consequences of your actions in current events throughout the Pirates! world
  • Battle, overtake and command 27 different ship types, enhanced with assorted ammo, cannon and other upgrades
  • Take on various foes including merchant and military captains, ferocious pirates, evil gentry and even rival suitors - each with different skills and abilities
  • Confront enemies on board ships, in seedy taverns, on the ramparts and even at the Governor's mansion
  • Wield weapons - or anything within your reach - as you fence against foes
  • Engage in fierce naval battles fighting single enemies or multiple ships
  • Sneak into towns, escape out of prisons, navigate around adversaries and surprise unsuspecting vessels
  • Dispatch landing parties of buccaneers in strategic battles to take over entire cities
  • Increase your riches and impress the governor's daughter with your charm, fame, heroism - even your dancing abilities
  • Collect items (swords, spyglasses, armour, hats, coats, etc.) that improve skills or provide other new benefits and view them in a new inventory system
  • Enhance your gameplay experience with downloadable content including flags, sail emblems, character skins and more

Sid Meier's

2K Games
July 2005