Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Allow me to reminisce for a moment. Once upon a time when I was far too young to be interested in simulation games, I discovered the existence of a Commodore 64 game by the name of Sid Meier's Pirates! Yes the exclamation mark was part of the title. It sounded amazing. Being able to play as a pirate and have a whole wealth of decisions open to you was revolutionary at the time. Over 20 years after its release, is it still as revolutionary? Not quite in terms of open world games but I've yet to find any other pirate based game that's quite so wondrous. Fortunately for iPad owners, this is a great conversion.
For the uninitiated, Pirates! HD focuses on the tale of a young boy who escapes enslavement alongside his family and once an adult decides to become a pirate. Players are offered a choice of routes to take then, immediately opening up to a more individual experience. It can be a little intimidating. There's a lot to take in at first with even an in-depth onboard manual providing little comfort. Basically knowledge comes through experience, just like any game of that era previously. There's still the choice of following through the story based quests but ultimately players can do whatever they choose to. If they want to trade with other pirates, collect bounties, commit piracy or simply explore - all are viable options.
It's not just all sailing based either with sword fighting available too and the mini game for this as well as boat based combat is satisfying and breaking up the gameplay of simply wandering around. In each case, the addition of touch based controls adds to the experience more than anything else.
Pirates! HD is a complex sim and one that demonstrates just how wondrous it was the first time. It's aged so well purely because of its depth. Any game that requires its players to keep an eye on food consumption for its crewmates is bound to be detailed. On the iPad, it's a refreshing change but also one that's going to intimidate a few people expecting a more casual affair as is assumed with many iOS games. Give it time and the beauty becomes apparant. For those in need of a true sim however or a dose of nostalgia, this is a must buy.