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East India Company: Privateer
Score: 85%
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Nitro Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 -8 (Online)
Genre: Simulation/Strategy


Like East India Company, its expansion, East India Company: Privateer is an acquired taste. The audience for strategy games is already a small market (comparatively to other genres), but East India offered a completely different take on the genre by introducing players to the world of 17th Century Trading in the East Indies.

Privateer is the first major expansion for the series after Pirate Bay, which was, for the most part, a patch with some added content. Though small, Pirate Bay introduced a big play concept to the series, piracy, an element expanded on in Privateer.


The centerpiece of East India Company: Privateer is two new campaigns that find you in a completely different situation than previous campaigns. Instead of aligning your company with a European nation, you take command of a mercenary group of sailors. In other words, you're a pirate and other nations will routinely present you with missions to give them an edge in trading. Some involve simple smash and grab runs on rival ships, while others find you running escort through a dangerous area to helping a nation capture rival ships.

One of the better aspects of East India Company: Privateer is the factional favor system. Nearly all of the new campaign is mission-based. Success brings rewards and nations tend to like you (well, as much as they can officially). Failure, on the other hand, won't end the game, but instead cause them to hate you, or more importantly your company. Mishaps are going to happen, so there's some leeway in regards to how quickly nations grow to dislike you, but if you routinely botch jobs from a nation, it will affect later missions.

Privateer also offers new multiplayer maps and new skills. Your captains can now hire specialists who bring special talents to your fleet, like repairing ships or improving morale. The options aren't much different from your captain's skills, but make it possible to add new piracy abilities, such as the ability to mask your ship's identity.

Privateer also fixes a number of smaller glitches within the main game as well as some U.I. elements that take a lot of the hassle from performing simple in-game tasks. Sadly, while some issues were fixed, others popped up. I experienced at least one system lock-up and noticed a few other odd glitches. Nitro does seem on top of things, so I don't see this as a long-lasting problem.


The factional system isn't original, but does a lot for the overall experience. Since you're trading with national loyalty rather than goods, you have to be incredibly careful about which missions you take. In other words, you have to think like a mercenary. You need to keep a constant eye on how things are going with each nation and be choosey about which missions you take, especially since ticking off one group will cut you off from certain "favors" at ports. This makes the otherwise straightforward and dull missions interesting.

A few glaring A.I. issues do, however, add unneeded frustration or just plain silliness. A.I.-controlled captains will make a number of really dumb moves, most of which make victory an easy quest. Then again, your ships are also prone to making dumb decisions, some of which will cost you ships or even help to ruin your standing with nations. In an odd way, the two balance each other out, but also take away from the craftsmanship of the new options.


Getting back to that whole "acquired taste" thing, if you didn't find East India Company appealing, the inclusion of pirates won't make East India Company: Privateer any more appealing. From a basic gameplay standpoint, most of what you see in Privateer is exactly what you saw in the original, except with a few minor nips and tucks to interface.

However, if you are a fan of the original and really want to expand your pirating ways, Privateer is a good buy for the price. Even though the A.I. makes a few boneheaded mistakes and there are some new glitches, past experience suggests some of these areas may be tightened up in the future.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP; AMD AthlonXP 1600+ /Intel Pentium 4 1.6Ghz; 6 GB HDD space; 128MB DirectX 9 video card with PS2.0 / 128MB DirectX 9 video card with PS2.0; 1024MB
  Test System:

Windows Vista; 1.6 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600

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