Ascaron Entertainment of Port Royale fame presents this strategy game inspired in large parts by Sid Meier’s Pirates. The game is set in the 16th and 17th century Caribbeans, during the peak of sea-faring piracy. You begin with a small crew and a single small yet nimble vessel, and gain power and prestige through trade, piracy and accomplishing missions. Unlike in Patrician, however, you don’t control an entire fleet of ships in a web of small business transactions. In Pirate Hunter, you captain a single ship, with the possibility of later hiring a small fleet. Even as such, you always travel as one unit.
You advance through Pirate Hunter by trading, attacking other ships, completing missions and, eventually, attacking and ransacking entire towns. Although there is nothing really new here (many aspects, such as trading, are straight ripped from Port Royale), the versatility of what you can do at any time is a plus. The game contains 16 scenarios, with objectives that include things like blockading cities, discovering treasures, exploring shipwrecks, capturing outlaws, or transporting goods and messages. The scenario’s long-term objectives often require that you undertake smaller goals along the way, each with specific time constraints.
The various scenarios in Pirate Hunter reflect different levels of difficulty, based on the time period and the nation involved. At the outset, the first scenario is quite easy and includes a tutorial to help you with economic transactions in the cities, naval combat, and navigation. The more experience you have, the more the governor gives you more challenging assignments to help you rise to higher ranks. Eventually you get into battle on the high seas with other ships, and these fights will feel awfully familiar if you’ve played Patrician or Royale.
Part of what makes Pirate Hunter enjoyable is the wide range of items at your disposal. There are a whopping 60 different Caribbean towns to visit. Twelve pirate ships are available to command, including a brig, sloop, frigate, caravel, galleon, you name it. Throw four different nations into the mix – England, Spain, France, and the Netherlands – and a complex economic model and you have quite a rich world at your feet. If you’re the sort of guy who enjoys pirate lore, and Sid’s classic game based on said lore, then this simple but effective spin on an old formula is sure to please you.
System Requirements: Pentium II 450 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, Win98
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