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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Westwood Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2002

 

 

- Two definite game modes: sword fightin’ and sailin’

- Expansive levels: especially for the sword fighting

- Impressive game design and implementation

 

 

- Some blocky textures during the action

- Camera issues where you can’t see someone behind you while they take cheap shots

- Save, save, save, save (Especially whenever you’re going sailing)

 

 

Review: Onimusha (Playstation 2)

Review: Escape from Monkey Island (Playstation 2)

Review: The Mark of Kri (Playstation 2)

 

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Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat is a decidedly different type of adventure game, one where you get to live vicariously through a female pirate in the Caribbean. So don your best scallywag-fighting clothes and climb aboard!

 

legend-black-cat-1.jpg (28816 bytes)   legend-black-cat-2.jpg (33500 bytes)   legend-black-cat-3.jpg (31221 bytes)

 

Pirates holds two levels of action, the first puts you in direct control of Kat (short for Katarina de Leon), fighting skirmishes and general adventuring for treasure, buried or otherwise. Kat possess the ability to detect buried treasure (I had a girlfriend with a similar ability involving me and my paychecks) which she’ll need to collect to buy weapons, tools, and help upgrade and repair her ship the “Wind Dancer”. The second type of action involves the Wind Dancer itself, the sailing portion of the game. Not only is it the preferred way to navigate between islands (or worlds if you still think in a Super Mario kind of way) but it also represents some of the more strategic action of the game. For example, around the islands are usually a series of enemy ships looking to paint some kills on the bow as well as an encampment or fort of some kind. “Do I go after the ships then focus on whittling away at the fort?” or “Do I try and destroy the fort first, set up a base for repairs and then destroy the ships at my leisure?” – these questions become an integral part of the game.

 

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As mentioned, the melee action is where you look for treasure – either buried or on the corpses of those foolish enough to oppose you. Here you can explore and generally battle against all sorts of baddies ranging from inept guards and disgruntled crustaceans to the more frightening undead horde and bosses. Besides her trusty cutlass, Kat can also use a variety of tools and other weapons ranging from throwing knives and incendiary devices to magic spells – it gives a well rounded 

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feel to the action. Besides walking, Kat can also move around the locals by uncovering and using warp pads which bring her to normally un-explorable places on the island or to secret areas such as an underworld gravesite (or something equally macabre). The action for this mode is good, with a fine balance between exploring and fighting to maintain your interest, but it can certainly get repetitive after a while. My only complaint about this action is with the camera. There is nothing as infuriating as getting hammered by an unseen opponent.

 

The visuals are a mixed bag with the detail varying from high on some objects to mid-low on some textures – from one moment you’re looking into a gorgeous reflecting pool where you can see your own visage through the waves to an enemy who looks downright cubic on the edges. It’s not bad, just surprising to see such a disparity in the graphics in some areas of the game. The sound is good, not amazing, but competent -- it doesn’t distract from the action at any time. The adventuring is where all of the sight gags and programmer humor and tributes take place – from the grog which heals (most likely props to the Monkey Island team) to the parrot which serves as the save point.

 

The cerebral portion of the game is in the sailing. In this game, the majority of the difficulty is derived in figuring out a strategy to defeat all of the enemy pirate ships as well as any encampments/fortresses built on the island. From a lifetime of gaming, we’ve somehow developed a theory that the best way to destroy something is to attack head-on, thereby surprising the enemy and allowing our general superiority to dominate from the inside. This game will take you out back and wail on you with a wet newspaper if you try those kinds of tactics. The goal is to defeat your enemies without sustaining too much damage to your own ship because repairs are costly and a pain to implement. The “health” of the Wind Dancer is measured in two ways – hull damage and sails. (Some of you were thinking shields, right?) Both attributes can be fixed with materials stowed on-board the ship but these critical supplies always seem to be in short supply when you really need them (especially when you’ve started exploring a new island).

 

The real tactics of sea battling is in forcing your enemy into a bad position and then damaging them while they cannot get a bead on your ship – it certainly is easier to say than do. The strategy becomes more involved when engaging an enemy base, you have to try to destroy the cannons or at least damage a section enough for you to move in close and finish off the target (which is usually the time when those 4 ships you forgot about decide to join the battle). Needless to say, I heartily recommend saving often when attempting something involving a ship – you’re going to die often so I hope you didn’t do too much between saves.

 

The transition between the two modes occurs whenever you find a pier and dock the ship (this even works during the middle of a battle -- for some reason, your enemies won’t fire on a docked ship). It’s the quickest way (or sometimes the only way) of exploring all areas of an island. The graphics in this mode are really good; everything seems authentic about the sailing except for the final explosions of a sinking ship. (There’s no fuel, they might have some gun powder but I doubt that it’d blow up like that.)

 

All in all Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat is an interesting game that is a lot of fun to play. I recommend Pirates for those that are looking for something more than a straightforward hack and slash game – something a little more engaging.

 

- Tazman

 

"Gimme the funnies."

"Here, you can read the coupons."

- Meatwad and Master Shake (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)

 

PS. There are codes to change Kat’s outfit. If you’re interested pop me an email and I’ll send it along (or just post the damn thing if harassed enough).

 

(April 1, 2002)

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