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If You Like your sims to be involving and detailed, try this one for size. Port Royale is a simulation of life, warfare and adventure set in the Caribbean from the 1570s onwards. You take the role of sea farer merchant, or pirate - or any combination of the three - and have thousands of miles of coastline to explore and exploit. There are more than 60 towns to visit, four nations (English, Dutch, French and Spanish) to contend with and, the ever-present threat of rum-soaked pirates.
It all begins with you harboured in port with a modest pot of gold and a small ship armed with a few cannons for self-defence. You can buy any combination of 19 different commodities and take them to another port to make a profit. You can also build various production facilities, from fishing huts to cocoa plantations, to satisfy ongoing local demand, or you can simply buy more cannons and start out on a career in buccaneering.
Capturing ships can be extremely lucrative and a quick way to build up a fleet. But your reputation plays an important part in the proceedings (especially later on), so it's vital to try and keep up appearances, especially in your hometown.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
You can build storage facilities in different ports and stockpile goods waiting for favourable market conditions. And if it all gets a bit ovenwhelming, you can create several different convoys and give them automatic trade routes with stipulations on what maximum and minimum prices they should buy and sell at. Occasionally town governors and other characters will offer you missions which vary from taking meat and potatoes to a starving town (usually on the other side of the map), to sinking a number of one particular nation's ships, or capturing a famous pirate. You'll also come across fragments of treasure maps, nddles and rumours.
Even at their lowest resolution, the graphics are solid, if a little samey, and the 3D sea battles can be quite complex, with three different ammo types, adjustable sails and speeds, and the possibility of boarding other ships if you've an advantage in numbers. Up to ten ships a side can be involved, ranging from tiny sloops to frigates, caravels, and men-o-war with a hundred or more cannons and several hundred crew.
Pause For Thought
Up to eight players can play in multiplayer mode, although the single-player game does rely heavily on your ability to pause the game or fast-forward the boring bits. Dozens of keyboard short-cuts are used to accelerate gameplay, and there is an excellent and indespensible tutorial which develops Into a fully-fledged campaign once you've mastered the basics. The manual is clear and concise, if lacking in hints, and the game itself is fun. fascinating and moderately open-ended in style. But the fact that you have to progress through various ranks from humble seaboy to captain and governor in order to get bigger ships gives it a linear feel in places. And as the game goes on, the opposition just gets bigger and stronger. That said, once you've mastered it, you'll find that you'll be walking the planks of Port Royale for some weeks to come.
Download Port Royale
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP