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[Review] - Pirates of Black Cove


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Developed by: Nitro Games

Published by: Paradox Interactive

Platforms: PC

ESRB: T for Teen

Note: Check the bottom of this page for a short update on the state of the game.

Pirates of Black Cove is difficult to classify. Players sail around the Caribbean gathering and completing missions on both land and sea, in an aim to gain access to a Forgotten Isle and defeat the Pirates of Black Cove. Part role playing, part strategy, this game is a casual one.

When first starting a game, players can choose one of three playable characters. These characters, each with different stats, level up though the game and earn abilities. The character you choose is playable on land, where they can command up to three other units hired from a stronghold.

Along the way, the player will become champion of three different pirate factions, the Pirates, Buccaneers, and Corsairs. Through these factions, missions are handed out. Every third mission will be a plot-advancer, often a special mission such as a boss fight. Along the way, you and your pirate crew will take the fight to various pirate icons, such as Sirens and the Kraken.

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The Pirate Stronghold, the first available, and some units.

Missions range from collectable missions, assault missions (going in on land to destroy buildings, kidnap people), chasing down boats and waging war on the seas. The world is alive, with boats from various other factions such as the Netherlands, Britain, Spain and France always sailing around. Missions earn money, which can be spent hiring units, building strongholds, buying a new boat and even upgrading the boats you own.

Naval warfare is handled well, with simple controls that are easy to use. Clicking on either side of your boat fires the cannons on that side. Different boats each have their own stats, and even small boats can take down a large one, with the use of good tactics. Items gathered from travels can be used to transport you around the map, or give you special buffs or abilities. The naval battles are the shining aspect of the game, as it should be in a pirate game.

Along the way, the player character will be able to become Champion of each of the Pirate factions. Among other bonuses, the leader of each faction will join you, becoming another controllable Hero unit on land. They level up as well, and can even command 3 units each, in addition to every other hero under your command. By the end of the tale, it is possible to amass quite the crew. Each faction has various units that can be hired if the required building is built. These range from lowly pirates or musketeers, to men with thundering cannons or massive hammers.

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A naval battle, with an island and settlement in the background.

The land battles are not often as good as the naval ones, prompting a feeling of “get in, get out” when attempting a mission on land. Often the best strategy is to select everything and throw it at the enemy, which is a shame. Land maps are hard to navigate, the addition of a zoom - both in and further out - would greatly benefit navigation. Weaving through city streets, bag of gold in tow, trying to get to your boat before the inhabitants of the town get you may sound good, but it is difficult when you cannot tell which lane to take.

The game is fun, and intriguing enough to pull you into the story. Sometimes it is just as fun to go and be a pirate - start a war with one of the other factions and steal their gold. One of the main drawbacks of the game is bugs. In this review session, a particularly nasty one raised its head, preventing the acquisition of missions and thus the progressing of the story. Also a serious bug that corrupted saves, one after the other. Nothing can be done about this other than starting anew. Other spelling mistakes and frequent crashes (frequent is not overstating it) mar the overall shine of the game. While there is little doubt that these will be fixed quickly, it is a shame that they exist at all.

Pirates of Black Cove is a good game, not very “hardcore”, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is a breath of fresh air to just sit down with it and have some good fun, without impending doom looming around the corner. Well made, the game is held back by serious and not so serious bugs. Spelling errors, crashes and game breakers all need to be addressed. With the fixing of these, and the addition of some features such as zoom in land scenarios, the game could be just that little bit better.

Update: Since this review was published, Nitro Games have released a few patches for Pirates of Black Cove. One of them totals around a whopping 908Mb. As evident by that size, many of the bugs mentioned in the review have been fixed, along with other tweaks and fixes, small new features and the like. Crashes are much less frequent. The bug mentioned that halted progress has been addressed and removed. Saves are no longer corrupting (in this reviewers experience) though saves that were previously corrupted have not been fixed (that is to be expected). Essentially, the major bugs in the game have been removed, and this is a great thing. While there are some new bugs brought with the patches, or not yet addressed, those that seriously impair gameplay have been removed. With any luck, the game with continue to be patched and these smaller issues will be dealt with.

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