All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One



Score: 60%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Hothouse Creations
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Cutthroats are mostly icons, maps, and tiny little ships in the crow’s nest view. They are very simple, and sometimes quite confusing -- from the starting interface to the crow’s nest view. The little Full Motion Video clips that play throughout the game, such as when you talk to a governor or one of your crew reports on the state of your ship, are tiny and pixilated.

The sound in this game isn’t much better. The voice acting is extremely hammy, almost to the point of making you want to slap the various people in disgust, although I found the line, “This looks like a good place for us to go drinkin’ and whorin!’” to be somewhat amusing. The battle sounds and graphics are similarly cheesy, with rather weak ship models duking it out on the, err, sea, and little stick figures “clinking” against each other when you get into ship-to-ship battle. Overall, this game’s presentation is pretty weak.


But it’s got gameplay to back it up, right? Right? Err, no. Remember Sid Meier’s Pirates! (or Pirates! Gold, if you came after my time)? Yeah, well, that’s a better game than Cutthroats. Sure, Cutthroats is considerably more realistic. But a pirate adventure/strategy/simulation should be fun. Cutthroats, quite simply, is not. It gets bogged down in micromanagement and just sheer boredom. I really don’t want to deal with food and loyalty and rum constantly, and although the almost Elite-esque trading mini-game is pretty interesting for a time, it makes for a dull pirate sim. I’d rather go play Elite.

When you’re in a town, you can do such things as visit the shipwright’s, recruit new pirates, and talk to the governor. This last brought up some of the most boggling continuity problems I’ve ever seen. The governor of a small town (the Cayman Islands) greeted me. I chose “Friendly” (one of a few choices as to your method of talking), and he started ranting about having nothing for me to take. Oookay... so I left. And he says, “Thank you for visiting us! Please come again soon.” Did I miss something here? Or is there no logical connection between the two responses? Hmmm.

The battles should be interesting, though, right? Right? Err, no. They generally consist of a lot of confused right-mouse-button clicking, trying to decipher the tiny icons that pop up, and then watching your ships get the crap beat out of them. Whee. Luckily there’s a speed-up button that you can press to zoom your way out of battle, but that just takes you to the graphically ugly crow’s nest view where you watch little icon boats cruise around next to other little icon boats.

Really, folks, this is not what a pirate game should be like. Sure, the trading bit is somewhat fun, but there have been better games that treated the same subject with a lot more (interesting) depth. The combat is just plain boring, not to mention confusing as hell when you have more than one ship in your fleet. It’s as if Hothouse took all the cool ideas from Pirates! and suggestions to improve them, and... overdid it. The game went from being a lighthearted sim to being a really dull point-and-click wasteland.


Depending on the time that you start Cutthroats, the game’s difficulty varies. The true difficulty comes more from fighting with the interface and battle controls, though, not the core mechanics. Sad. Seriously, though, once you get past the travails of a poorly-implemented game, it’s not all that difficult, although sometimes you have to wonder how well those treasure-laden warships can chase your empty sloop.

Game Mechanics:

Well, at its heart, Cutthroats has something going for it. There’s something cool about being a pirate. But the terrible interface that has you constantly floating your cursor over the icons to figure out what each does (not the best thing to do in a battle situation, mind you) and the befuddled combat engine seriously detracts any enjoyment you may get out of the game. The manual is interesting, and really got me hyped for the game... until I popped it into the computer. This is a prime example of a great concept being destroyed because it was simply overdone. What could have been a really fun remake of Pirates! ends up a lifeless gaming experience. Unless you’re big-time into pirates, I can’t find any reason to suggest Cutthroats -- unless the reference to whorin’ makes it a worthwhile purchase.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

P200, Win 95/98, 250MB HD Space, 8x CD-ROM, 2MB SVGA card, Mouse, DirectX 6.1 sound card

Test System:

AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM

Windows Alien vs. Predator Windows Crusaders of Might and Magic

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated