[[The Next Pirate Adventure]]There really has been no great game set on the high seas of yore since Sid Meier's Pirates! which came out over ten years ago. But now, Akella, the Russian developers behind more that thirty of Russia's best games and multimedia applications is giving the dated Pirates! a run for the money.
Titled, Corsairs until Akella realized that Microids was putting out a game of the same name, Akella change the name of their venture to: Sea Dogs - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Unlike other games, where you have been forced to micromanage your huge pirate fleet, Sea Dogs will mainly focus in on the fighting, looting and plundering aspects of the pirate genre. For example, one of the most visible changes will be that Sea Dogs will be viewed from a 1st person, 3D perspective, not a overhead isometric perspective.
[[The Plot]]You will begin the game as a young Corsair (aka - lil pirate) sometime around 1630 where you pledge you allegiance to either France, Spain or England. There are different benefits to choosing the different countries and in the game, but eventually as you are sent on a mission to capture and fortify a new group of islands, you will start your own band of pirates. Eventually after pillaging and looting and stealing enough ships from your enemies and other pirates, you will be able to form a group of your own. You can then ignore official orders from the country you signed up with and then proceed to win by controlling all of the islands.
However, there are many ways to lose, including being defeated in battle, mutiny, starvation, or even running aground. So it will be your responsibility to manage your crew, your cannons and how you trade. You must also give orders to fight, attack forts, plunder towns and steal from local merchants. In the game you will encounter over 100 different unique characters, some will help you, while some will make your life tough.
[[The Game]]Of course it won't be a easy game to play, there will be over 13 different fully detailed islands. Eight will be occupied by towns and some will be free for you to inhabit. The developers really expect this game to be extremely realistic. For example, flags and sails will be very detailed to that time period, the people you encounter will wear appropriate 17th century clothing, you will also control six types of cannons with four different types of cannonballs. There will also be 12 different, highly detailed ships for you to sail.
Akella has developed their own 3D engine for this game. It will be able to support up to 1000 different objects on the screen at once. The weather effects that will occur include lightening, gales, rain, and even tornados in full 3D accelerated glory. However, for those of you without the latest hardware, Sea Dogs will also feature software rendering.
[[Multiplayer and Conclusion]]Sea Dogs will also feature a multiplayer mode that will be released separately from the single player game. At least that is the plan at the time of this feature. Multiplayer will involve 3 types of games; the familiar deathmatch, and cooperative and team games. However, even with the multiplayer games, you will need to use your brains and wits more than simply your firepower to overcome the enemy.
Being the first serious contender for a pirate game since Sid Meier's Pirates!, Sea Dogs has a lot to live up to. It has to bring the depth to gameplay and tactics that Pirates! did, and it has to up the graphics factor considerably. In the days of Voodoo 5s and GeForce cards, nothing less would be expected from the developers. And just because Akella is new to the North American gaming market, it doesn't mean that gamers will settle for a crappy game. Akella has a huge set of shoes to fill, but hopefully it can quench gamers' thirst for a really really excellent pirate game.