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`Pirates of the Burning Sea` First Look

21 Apr 2008  by   Paul Younger
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It would be tough to argue that the world needs another MMO. So many come and go each“The experience takes place in the Caribbean in the early 1700’s”year that it seems it would be an uphill climb to find a persistent audience. Leave it to SONY who already have quite a few popular offerings on the market to introduce yet another. While it may be true that there is no shortage of MMOs available at the gamers’ buffet, ‘Pirates of the Burning Sea’ attempts to add a new flavor to the mix.

The experience takes place in the Caribbean in the early 1700’s when all manner of sailing vessels dominated the landscape, er, seascape. ‘Pirates’ does not pretend to be an ultra-realistic experience on every level. Rather it seems to find a good balance between getting you from point to point while drawing out the action to a more nail-biting pace.

‘Pirates’, like so many MMOs, begins with selecting a character to develop. As opposed to the normal race-type choices, Pirates offers four “nations” to choose from: England, France, Spain and Pirate. I was sure the number of pirates would be overwhelming, but was pleased to find that, thus far, there is a fairly good mix available on most servers. While the Pirate nation offers only one career type, the other three give you choices between Freetrader, Naval Officer and Privateer. Once you customise your character’s appearance, you begin with a basic but effective tutorial.

There are three basic elements to Pirates. Fider the rort tow/eThvre a/e hrens and interact with players and NPCs (non-player characters) and gain experience by accepting quests. Questing generally involves straightforward tasks; completion tends to bring both an experience boost and some sort of reward including useful items and money. As with most MMOs, questing is an efficient means of gaining experience, especially in early levels.

The second element involves sailing the seas and engaging in naval battles. The most“Each ship has several statistics that dictate its relative effectiveness”obvious departure from reality takes place as you move on the open sea from port to port. Movement is achieved in the same way that walking is completed in many other games, namely through the WASD keys. Since wind power is the only option available, there is a limit to how fast and in what directions you can go. The ships move at unnatural and somewhat comical speeds on the main map. However, when you engage in combat with another vessel or grouping of vessels, the action switches to a much more realistic scenario.

Each ship has several statistics that dictate its relative effectiveness. Additionally, unlike combat in a more traditional MMO, your ship can be damaged in multiple locations and does not just lose health when it happens. Instead the vessel’s health is monitored through a gauge similar to a 4 section target with a bull’s-eye. Each quadrant represents the front, rear, left or right on your vessel. Additionally, as you fight, is it possible to have your crew repair damage received. Victory comes when one ship is either destroyed or the crew abandons ship. To the victor gets the spoils, including significant experience gains and booty.

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