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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G5 @ 1600 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Hard Disk: 1400 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

Sid Meier's Pirates!
March 10, 2009 | David Allen

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The Return of the Ancient Mariner
There are only a few people in this world who don't love pirates: anyone who has to steer a ship anywhere near the present-day coast of Somalia, and of course, ninjas. But for everyone else, the idea of actually getting to be a pirate has a glittering allure that no amount of fact-checking and dour historical debunking can ever erase. Who cares if the grand era of piracy was at most a few decades long? Who cares if most pirates died at sea, or in jail, or penniless? They got to drink like fish, wear cool clothes, sing great songs, sail around in awesome ships in crystalline tropical seas, and treat the merchant fleets of the great colonial powers as if each ship was a floating ATM!

The idea was so popular that back in the days of yore (circa 1987 AD) the original Sid Meier's Pirates! was offered to the general public to widespread "huzzahs!" All your buccaneering dreams were now right there in front of you in glittering monochrome!

The Sid Meier label carried a lot of cache in those days, and to this day, because of this designer's innovations in simulations. The game featured one of the earliest "sandbox" styles of play—you could pretty much do whatever you wanted within the confines of this virtual world, which was itself changing all the time, in ways both influenced by and independent from your actions. Time passed in an internally consistent fashion, and your success in the game depended in many ways on monitoring and dealing with factors that changed over time—your crew's morale, the rise and fall of prices, and your own character's inevitable aging. Most importantly, it was as much fun as you could have in those primitive times, because you also got to fight a lot.

So, now we have Feral Interactive's spanking-new update, also cleverly titled Sid Meier's Pirates!: Live the Life (from here on out, we'll just call it Pirates). In a nutshell, Pirates is the flagship (pun intended) of Feral's proposed Legends series, which will be updating classic games of the Jurassic age into modern, sparkly, souped-up forms. This review will look at how effectively they've done it with this venerable title.

I'll start with a disclaimer: I am not doing a feature-by-feature comparison between this update and the 1987 version. For one thing, it's impossible. I have no intention of digging up an Apple Performa, or whatever, just so I can play the original again, nor am I able to dredge up more from my 20-year-old memories of this game other than "I liked it!" For another thing, it's not really important. Let's treat this as a new game, because after all, it's competing for your gaming dollar (or doubloon) against games that are NOT retreads of acknowledged classics.

So with that in mind, let's embark.


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