Previously released on PC, comes the remake of Sid Meier's classic Pirates to Xbox. Developers Firaxis have done a good job of reworking it for the Xbox, adding Xbox Live support and improving the controls. Once again, players will take the role of a 17th century pirate out to make a name for himself and take over the world.
Your adventure begins when an intruder interrupts your celebrations and abducts your family, forcing you to embark on a desperate quest to find them. This is where you name your character and select the captain you wish to join. It won't matter whom you select, soon after you begin you'll quickly realize your captain is a prick and instil a mutiny. From here you'll begin the search for your family.
Although there is little exploration to do in island towns, if you have a treasure map you can take a party ashore any island and dig for gold. The world is presented in full 3D and you will encounter the occasional trade ship or in some cases, enemy pirate ship. You can either fight or ignore. If you win a fight, as well as winning whatever treasure they have, some of the crew may wish to join you, in which case you can either let them stay or make them walk the plank.
You can choose whether to keep the ship you have defeated, or sink her. Although, keeping a ship bigger than the one you had is a good choice if you have enough men to crew it. When you keep a ship it follows your flagship around the world map, this is a good way to build up a party of ships to carry more men, and supplies. As you defeat ships, word spreads of your victories, building your reputation as a pirate.
If you lose track of what you are supposed to do or where you should sail next, it's as easy as checking your "quest status" to find out your last objective. When you visit towns, a menu screen appears where you can select the part you want to visit. You can talk to the mayor; visit the tavern for info; and buy food, cannons, and other pirate related items for your quest from the merchant.
When taking on other ships, having many guns will not help you much if you do not have enough crewmen to use them. Each ship depending on its size can hold a different amount of men allowing for more or fewer guns. Battles can also be waged on land in a turn-based strategy affair, where groups of your men move around the land facing off against groups of the victim's army.
The Xbox controls feel intuitive compared to the mouse and number pad of the PC version. Sword fighting with the Xbox controller also handles better than the PC version's constant mouse clicking.
Pirates shines in detail in both ship and land battles. If you hit an enemy ship just right, you can see enemy sailors or barrels being thrown off the ship and sinking into the ocean. If your flagship is damaged you can either repair or replace it with a captured ship. When cruising along in your boat you may notice some dolphins following you. In land battles, the armies shoot arrows back and forth and run where directed.
Crewmen let out a scream as they plunge into the water and drown. You can hear the sails ripple in the wind as you cruise along and occasionally the pirates sing, badly. Unfortunately, most of your interaction with NPCs on land use text boxes instead of voice acting.
Combining everything that made the PC version great with extras exclusive to the Xbox version, this is one of the best pirate game available on Xbox and a great remake of a classic Sid Meier title.