Developer: Alawar Entertainment, Inc.
Price: Free
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Mini

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Pirrrates! HD is a freemium strategy game designed for the iPad. Gamers choose sides between the pirates or the Royal Navy and battle it out to take control of each map by outmaneuvering the enemy. There’s plenty of battle action packed into its 19 levels, but the level of difficulty means gamers may walk away frustrated if they aren’t willing to shell out some cash.

At the start of a game, players must choose between the beard growing and gun loving pirates or the dainty and well-dressed Royal Navy. The main objective is to take control of each area and capture all the gold. Once a name is entered, players can select between easy, medium or hell. I stuck with easy since I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Pieces of the map are revealed as levels are defeated. At the start of each new area, players must capture all the enemy buildings by moving their troops from one to another. The number of troops needed to take or already inside of a building or ship is displayed above each one. Moving the pirates or troops is as simple as touching and dragging a finger to the next one. It’s possible to move troops simultaneously from many different buildings by touching and dragging to each one to create a path.

Magic spells are displayed at the bottom of the screen. These spells need time to recharge after each use. Just tap, drag and drop the spell onto the enemy to see it in action.

Capturing all treasure houses earns the gold, which is used to level up player skills and magic. At the end of each level, players earn either gold, silver or bronze coins based on the time spent and the total score. These coins are used in the store to buy skills and magic. Those who wish to buy more help can use in-app purchases that range from $0.99 to $12.99 to get more coins. There’s also the chance to earn free coins by completing offers and sharing the game with Facebook and Twitter.

Pirrrates! HD has nice crisp graphics and the gameplay is responsive, but it focuses heavily on IAPs. By the time I made it to the fourth level on easy, I had a really hard time defeating the enemy and yearned for more power-ups. Additionally, there isn’t much that gamers haven’t seen before and the game also crashed a few times while playing it.

Since Pirrrates! HD is free to download, it’s worth checking out if it sounds remotely interesting. However, those who have played many games in this genre as well as anyone who despises IAPs, may wish to spend their booty and time somewhere else.

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