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Port Royale

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Tri Synergy
Developer: Ascaron
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Pirates, Action, and Strategy. The phrase seems used quite ceremoniously in recent days, what with the anticipation of a multitude of pirate-based merchandising. While the pirates found in Port Royale bear no actual connection to the other pirates mentioned, this RTS game brings all of the scalawagging experiences expected of any game focusing on adventures at the high seas.

These days, the RTS genre is flooded with games. Many copy the same model of story, plot and concept. Most RTS games even use the same arrangement of characters and visuals, which leads to very limited and uninviting games for fans of the genre. Port Royale does make a few blunders at certain aspects of the title, but for the most part, it is a welcomed addition to the genre and gives a flavorful boost of fun and excitement.

The traditional isometric god-perspective map board welcomes players into the lush islands of Port Royale. Three dimensional towns, ships, and items fluster the maps with detail and activity. While the circumstance of the graphics may be naturally expected of modern RTS games, placing all of the items in the port islands south of the Florida coast gives the game a better sense of historic realism, a feature that cannot be found its ethereal counterparts.

Port Royale's sound is full-bodied and fits the time frame well. The ambiance of brushing ocean shores and harsh hustle of industrial workmen is melded with an adequately leveled musical score that seems to follow the style of the game perfectly.


Gameplay:

Taking place in the Caribbean, Port Royale is a game of strength and determination matched by wit. The standard requisite of most RTS games seems to play successfully in Port Royale's favor. Sixty-five hundred gold coins have been offered by the Spanish government to find, battle, and defeat Jean Fleury, infamous pirate of the islands. While this may surround Port Royale as an underlying theme and ultimate goal, the main ticket to the success does not come by accomplishing one simple task.

Each port in the Caribbean is equipped with a number of goods, while requesting some others. Budgeting your sells and purchases across islands will help to increase wealth, standings, and acceptance from your fleet. Keeping track of these earnings, much like a traditional Civilization game, is welcomed after many struggled RTS games have somewhat turned the genre into a 'build an army and destroy things quickly' genre. The strategy of standings and status plays an important part in Port Royale.

Nevertheless, the strategy of Combat is not altogether replaced. On the outset, players are asked to choose a career path. There are only two choices, Merchant and Pirate. Choosing one or the other could lead to some rather trifled and challenging adventures on the high seas. Port Royale has an ever-evolving nature, and enough mini-adventures are spread out across the game's life to sustain any player.

More than 60 towns and secret places with treasure, battles, and struggles are featured in Port Royale. Developing a life as either a Merchant or a Pirate on top of a rich, historically active landmass keeps players embroiled in adventure after adventure. Also, even though Port Royale does follow a historic path, missions do not necessarily occur in strict linear procession.

The depth of gameplay in Port Royale is astonishing. Encompassing a structured set of missions, battles, and character progression, Port Royale is deep and never predictable in situation. Combining elements of board games, sea combat, and economic management, players are not bound by a wholly traditional model, making Port Royale a breeze of fresh air.


Difficulty:

After the initial learning phase expected of any RTS, Port Royale explodes into a varied smorgasbord of challenges and give-aways. Not subjected to completely letting its guard down, a number of computer driven ships can attempt to put a hole in your attempts to accomplish all of the missions and goals in the game. The AI is also capable of managing its own strategies for economic problems and difficulties, which may cause you to become penniless.

Game Mechanics:

Nothing seems to falter when there's a pirate at the helm. This is still astonishingly true with Port Royale and its attention to simple control and execution. Map boards are eloquently designed and laid out, as well as simple to maneuver through. The primarily point-and-click driven interface embellishes intuitiveness. While players can use the keyboard if they so choose, for the most part, players will simply click in a location of choice and proceed to a port or location on the open sea.

For players who may struggle with some of the subtleties of Port Royale's controls, however, a tutorial is included. The somewhat slow-paced tutorial takes approximately 40 minutes to detail every aspect of control and choice presented in the game. Frankly, the tutorial is a bit ahead of itself, and may make the intuitiveness of the controls seem much less simple than it should. However, once players complete the tutorial, handling the game's mechanics is a cinch, letting players focus on real important aspects like looting an enemy ship.

An adventurous title, detailed with lush artifacts and a historic feel, waits in Port Royale. The challenge of battle driven strategy mixed with economic management makes for a fine amalgam of strategy and adventure. As seen in the game, the offer for merchantry or piratism could lead to numerous hours of adventure and struggle as you battle for power in escapades set throughout the ports of the Caribbean.


-==Boy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Kyle Prestenback

Minimum System Requirements:



Intel Pentium II 450Mhz, 64Mb Ram, 500Mb Free Hard Drive Space, 4x CD-ROM Drive, 16Mb DirectX 8.1 compatible Graphics Card, DirectX compatible Sound Card, Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
 

Test System:



Windows XP, Athlon XP 1800+, 1GB Ram, 64MB Gforce4 TI 4200, 16X DVD drive

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