App Reviewed on: iPhone 4s
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Pirates vs Corsairs: Davy Jones' Gold is a pirate-themed strategy title in which two players compete for control of the high seas in the quest for Davy Jones' treasure. To accomplish this task, players must strategically conquer zones and establish trade routes to build their pirate fleet and crush their competition.
In Pirates vs Corsairs, players take control of one of the two eponymous factions and build fleets to conquer territories and, eventually, assault the enemy's headquarters. To be successful, players must ensure they capture ports to establish trade, avoid storms, endure attacks from sharks and/or ghost pirates, spend gold to upgrade their fleet, and plunder the opposition's trade routes. Much like a board game, all of these actions are contingent upon players simply moving their ships to the appropriate spaces on the map. With simple tap controls and clearly defined territories, all of these strategic movements are a breeze.
Of course, since Pirates vs Corsairs is a competitive game, enemies are vying for control of the same territories as the player. When this happens, a mini-game representing the conflict begins, and the outcome of this game determines the victor. These mini-games include: naval battles, plundering trade routes, and invading ports. It is in these mini-games that Pirates vs Corsairs becomes problematic, primarily because they are repetitive and somewhat boring. Naval battles are a really simple real-time strategy game with a clear-cut rock/paper/scissors set of mechanics, plundering a trade route is a dumbed down runner, and conquering a port is a poor man's third-person shooter.
On top of this, every time a mini-game is initiated, Pirates vs Corsairs insists on playing a little animation that just makes the tedium even worse. Waiting through an animation of cannon fire for the thousandth time only makes the experience feel that much more cumbersome. If there were a way to simulate the battle based on fleet numbers/dice rolls, I'd much prefer that.
Update: Turns out, there is a way to simulate battles. When players begin a new game, the option to automate battles is hidden in an advanced options menu.
All of that being said, the core game of territory control with a pirate theme is really appealing. It is just a shame that the mini-games couldn't be more varied or less obnoxious. Fortunately, if players get tired of these games in the middle of a match, they can save up to three games to revisit later, but this is only a small concession to a larger problem. Pirates vs Corsairs just becomes a slog at some point, despite its initial appeal.