Review by madninjaskillzz
"420 pallets of Hemp from my private plantation en route to the Florida Keys? This game is "ARR" rated."
Welcome dear reader to my review. If you are like me, you really enjoy swashbuckling, the historical time period that piracy and mercantilism to various nations features in this game, and would really like to live the life of a pirate. Well this game can certainly hook you up in that regard. This is a fairly obscure title and was able to acquire it from Amazon with next day delivery for only 53 USD which is certainly a deal with how pleasing I find this game. Now that I have dealt with its availability issue onward to the review:
The game comes with two tutorials one might undertake to learn the ins and outs of a game this in depth. You may start out as an adventurer or as a trader. I find they both converge after the tutorial and once you know what you are doing the best thing to do is free-play as you can choose your nation, starting port, period, and a MASS of other options that make this a very gamer friendly title and very nice for creating your own scenarios. Trading is a VERY heavy feature of this game and one would probably encounter problems if they play without investing the time and effort into becoming a trader and are also not a legendary pirate. The trading system at first may seem like just a bunch of commodities but once you learn the ropes of acquiring licenses to build your own warehouses and businesses it becomes so much more fun. There is something very special to having your own productions of Hemp, Cacao, Coffee and Tobacco in the southern ports and taking that to trade for money while loading up the Adobe Bricks, Cotton, Lumber and Textiles from your Panhandle facilities to trade in southern ports. This game offers so much in the economic aspect it is easy to forget that this is a game where pirates lurk. Piracy will become the bane of a trader's existence. As you can send convoys to trade routes you specify around the Caribbean, pirates will also be very interested in such routes. Not a problem, if you are a well financed mercantile empire. You hire more crew on board those convoys and prepare them with various types of chainshot, grapeshot, guns, sabers and they become a bane to the scurvy pirates who yearn for your booty. As you grow in affluence and expand the settlements that you are building up, cities and their nations open up to you in hierarchy. You level up with each task done for a governor and each good deal you make, as well as each pirate you sink, or each nation you prey upon either via piracy or a letter of Marque. As you grow under a nation the Viceroy's daughter might take a liking to you, in which case, if you have administrative rights in a port, you may build a mansion for yourself and your wife who will always give you helpful information. Of course if these seems entirely too ordered for your tastes, the route of a pirate could serve you well as there is plenty to steal and the oceans are ripe for conflict. Battle is probably the weakest point of this game, but once you are financed and have a great crew the naval battles can become quite intense and are very rewarding. There is a land mechanic to invading strongholds but it mostly is a numbers game. Battle is namely why this game didn't receive a perfect score from me.
This is where the game could come up short for many. There is no discernible story perse. You write the story because this is your impact on the world around you. You shape the powers of the time, and you can leave your bloody mark of piracy on the world if that is your thing. I never personally noticed a lack of story since the world is very lively and does make you feel like your actions, be they good or bad, are having an effect on the nations vying for supremacy in this land.
The game looks great. I'm not a huge person on graphics as a game will stand on its own merits and not the way it looks, but honestly I find the game to look great. The settlements look great, the ships look majestic, the ocean and skies are beautiful, and the overall art direction is very pleasing. The sound is even better. The music of settlements, battles, and the overworld in general are very setting appropriate and set a good, pleasing tone for the game.
Play Time/Replayability: 10/10
The game is infinitely replayable and the playtime for a single campaign could be endless. This regard is really up to the individual gamer. I have spent roughly four years in game time on my first and only play and do not see an end in sight. Great for gamers who love to see their work shift and change the game world over time.
If you like piracy, trading, nation-building, politics, intrigue, treasure, mercantilism, I'd honestly recommend you this game. If you require in your face action ALL the time...you might ought to skip this title. It is far more leisurely than hard paced and pulse pounding. In many ways, veterans of Sid Meier's will find much in common with this game and Firaxis earlier endeavor. This is a very positive comparison and I find this game to be a far greater improvement than Sid Meier's pirates. You can take your time with this one and really peel it apart. Ultimately, I recommend this game for those who love simulations and a slow, steady build-up. This game is not for those who want instant satisfaction and expect to be terror of the seas within fifteen minutes of picking it up.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/12
Game Release: Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants (US, 10/09/12)
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