Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
While it’s fair to say that pirates were ultimately all about making money, their lives were filled with things other than loot. Most pirate-themed media, games, movies, or whatever else captures these more exciting aspects of the job. But Clear for Action steers clear of such unprofitable diversions.
After losing their impressive ship due to some family disagreements, players have to build their fleet back up from a single, measly skiff. So they'll need to purchase new ports and sail between different islands while stealing goods and selling them elsewhere. As players earn money and experience, they can upgrade their ship and recruit new crewmen. They can also buy additional ships to carry out multiple transactions at once. The map starts out small, but players unlock new locations as their nautical forces improve.
However, you’ll notice that nowhere in that description will you find any mentions of fighting, Navy troubles, or any other more action-packed pirate tropes. “Plundering” here feels no different than a game about a perfectly respectable trading company. And since so much of the game is just about earning money to increase your ability to earn more money, players might start to question the point of it all, even if it is addictive. They’ll have plenty of time for introspection too, since it takes ships minutes on end to sail between ports once the map opens up - unless they pay to skip past the waiting, of course. There’s the real piracy.
Clear for Action's presentation also fails to liven up its pirate antics. While it’s unfair to expect an Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag level bombast, or even an Assassin’s Creed Pirates level for that matter, the artwork here looks childish in a bad way. Watching your different ships sail across the night seas is a visual highlight, but otherwise it’s pretty rough. However, the jaunty music does provide some nice "Pirates of the Caribbean" flair.
Unless all you want from your pirate game is helping passive criminals mechanically fill their coffers, Clear for Action isn’t the game for you.