Corsairs is an interesting addition to the Pirates school of game design. It’s a swashbuckling strategy game where you have a reputation to build, a crew to keep happy, and fat galleons to plunder. Corsairs expands the category with the inclusion of strategic and real-time elements.
The game is a faithful, colorful treatment of the era, with historical locations, characters, and ship types but it takes liberties with your player character. Not only is he a budding captain of a privateer, but also the defensive coordinator of the region. This involves the strategic upgrading of harbor structures like lighthouses, dry docks, and fortifications. Attention to these factors is important as enemies have a nasty habit of attacking prime harbor locations at critical times. If you can suspend your disbelief the system is entertaining.
Combat takes two primary forms: ranged cannon exchanges and boarding melees. These include both ship-to-ship and ship-to-harbor battles. All of a player’s vessels may be involved in a battle but manually controlling more than one ship at a time is difficult. Thankfully, ships may be placed on autopilot with a reliable AI. Game play leans towards the arcadish rather than an Age of Sail simulation. Ship battles are fun with simple but attractive graphics.
Boarding is unusual too for this type of game, as each crewmember may be controlled individually or as part of a group. The opportunities for intricate boarding tactics are unfortunately limited. These actions generally end up as mass free-for-alls. The career aspect of the game is composed of canned missions. These tend to distract from the role-playing aspect of the game, but overall there’s enough action and strategic depth in Corsairs despite its flaws. Fans of Pirates should find enough innovation and fun on their journeys across the sea.
System Requirements: Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95
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