Friday, February 24, 2006

Sid Meier's Pirates!: Land Battles

Maybe I've just been spoiled by Advance Wars, but I have to say that I found the land battle aspect of Pirates to be almost shockingly primitive.

Each unit moves one space at a time. You can't move through a space that contains friendly units. You can't decide who missile-using units attack. There are invisible boarders around the playfield that will surely fatally mess you up at least once. Units can't do anything after they use their last move on a turn, and moving through forest always ends a turn. You can't visually see any unit's movement or attack range. You can't find out what kind of a unit an enemy is unless you happen to figure it out from appearance, and it's not obvious for any units except cavalry. It uses a non-obvious determining factor to indicate unit morale (the size of its identifying flag). It uses what is primarily a keyboard interface in the 21st century (much of the game is like that). And one of the most important battle functions, to end a turn without moving, is tied to a key which is not revealed to the player on-screen (it's the spacebar, for the record).

I like a lot about the game, but the land battle feature could have stood to be worked on for a couple more months before release.

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