Game Over Online ~ Corsairs

GameOver Game Reviews - Corsairs (c) Microids, Reviewed by - Rebellion

Game & Publisher Corsairs (c) Microids
System Requirements Pentium 133, 16MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Tuesday, May 11th, 1999 at 04:33 PM

Divider Left By: Rebellion Divider Right

Back in the golden days, the Spanish treasure fleet sailed the high seas while other nations squabbled amongst themselves. Pirates and buccaneers fought fiery naval battles for gold and plunder, and colonies strived for survival. The year ... is 1987. Yes, that's right 1987. Sid Meier's Pirates! was inventing a new breed of strategy and action, and as a preteen I was thoroughly engrossed for hours upon hours. I missed picking up a copy of Pirates! Gold when it came out in 1992, but I found it in a discount box a few years back. It's one of the few games (with Theme Hospital) still installed on my old P200 at home.

Now it's 1999, twelve years after Sid Meier first blessed us with this entertaining game, and a few other developers are poking their heads back in these waters. The first is Corsairs by Microids. We all know those French guys over there across the ocean have been putting out some creative titles recently, but no real big hits yet. Corsairs is fresh and new, displaying some creativity matched with good design. So get out your swords and prepare to go to battle.

My first impression of the game was quite good. I loaded it up and was amazed by the graphical detail. Of course, the last game of this nature is seven years old and we’ve come a long way in that time, so it's just a tad bit biased. It still does have nicely detailed graphics, lots of little animations to the water, ships and ports. It would be nicer if the ports themselves were more varied, perhaps based on what country's port it was, but all in all it looks nicely done. The console looks good as does the battle scenes, although units all look the same and there's not a wide variation between the combat scenes. It has a few esthetic details like gunsmoke and splashes to make it look more polished as well.

The audio is much what you'd expect from this type of game and little more. Cannons, gunfire, sword slashing, and the typical ocean waves make up the audio for the sailing screen. Your men also scream out battle calls in combat and bark orders to one another. While nothing is real rousing, it doesn't get to the point of irritating repetition. It does include a mediocre soundtrack, which is good enough not to hamper the game. Corsairs is a typical overhead style game and has the typical positional sound, so you'll hear sounds based on where you are on the map.

While it may look quite a bit like the old Pirates! game with enhanced graphics, for the most part it isn't. The game is broken in to two main parts. The main map where all the ports and ships are and the hand to hand combat screen. The ship battles are lacking since there's no surrender, so it doesn't really serve much point to fire cannonballs into ships unless you want them dead. Although, you do have different types of cannonballs, which does let you do things like wreck their sails to slow them down, so that you can catch them, or use grapeshot on the crew. It's nice in the idea, but it's sort of impractical to use. It mainly comes down to boarding and moving along to the other screen. The hand to hand combat screen looks like your typical RTS overhead view. You have a group of sailors, a couple lieutenants, and yourself during each raid. The number on each side is determined by a fraction of the numbers between the crews on each of the two ships (i.e. if one side has 200 crew members and the other side has 100, it'll be like 30 men to 15 men). If your player gets killed, it's game over, so you'll want to protect yourself. For the most part, this combat system is really lacking. The computer doesn't have any real strategy, so it's not too hard to defeat the computer if the odds are more in his favor. If it's an overwhelming difference, you're screwed and you're going to die. I wish there was a surrender option, because like I said before, you die and it's game over. Another thing about the combat is that it only goes to the hand to hand screens if your captain is involved. Otherwise it auto-calculates the battle to determine the winner.

The game is broken down into scenarios. You have to beat the scenario in order to move on in the game by beating some scripted mission objectives. There are also a handful of side missions throughout each level that will grant you extra ships or other rewards for completing. Each scenario can take some time, and some of the needed objections have to be accomplished in a short amount of time. Once again, if you don't complete them, it's game over. Luckily, Corsairs features a save game option so you can save your games during missions as you go along (You'll definitely want to do this frequently).

One thing Corsairs adds to this genre is the ability to enhance ports. There are a handful of different buildings that can be added and upgraded, like forts and dry docks, to improve your defenses. The coastal fort helps defend the port, while the lighthouse allows you to see incoming ships, and the dry dock allows you to build new boats. There are also a couple of other buildings, like the Governor's Mansion, that help to advance your score.

The story line is relatively decent. The scenarios are pretty linear, but, for the most part, you can take your time beating each mission. It does feature two campaigns, one as the French and one as the English. Each one has its own scripted story line, so it adds a little bit of replayability. The mini-missions in the game are also a nice idea since it helps give you a little more resources to work with. The one thing I didn't like about the story line was that the diplomacy wasn't dynamic. In Pirates!, each side would constantly be changing from warring to allies, Corsairs only changes in between scenarios. It also would have been nice to play as the Spanish or the Dutch, since they're both included in the game.

Corsairs is a great little game, full of some creativity and bringing life back into a dead time period in gaming. It's not a classic like Pirates! was, but it does have it's own form of style and entertainment. It's a little too simplistic in some aspects, and, can be at times a bit too challenging, but all in all it's an entertaining game. It doesn't quite captivate me and suck me in quite as much as Pirates! did, but nonetheless, Microids has put out a well-polished game.

Generally a fun game, It's been a long time since a memorable game like this Lows:
Scripted missions are somewhat lame, hard to stay on top of everything, RTS aspect is poor


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