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One of Sid Meier's earliest computer games, Pirates! combines role-playing adventure with simulated overtones of sailing 17th century seas. The adventure takes place in the Caribbean and simulates the economics, sea-based technology and politics of the era.
You begin the game as a humble seafarer with little in the way of accomplishments or gains. As the game progresses, you'll strive to become richer, smarter and more acceptable in high society. When you retire from the game, your final worth will be computed by the levels of your fortune, rank, land acquisition, reputation, wife's worth and bonuses for any and all noteworthy special events you accomplished.
You can strive to become nobility, earn massive personal fortune by plying the seas as a heavy handed pirate or by tracking down buried treasure on land, conduct ship-to-ship battles for sea supremacy and plunder or pursue mercenary payoffs as a hostage rescuer. The direction you steer is up to you.
The game world is historically accurate in regards to geography and the oceans of the world and you'll navigate and negotiate your way into beneficial alliances, trade and even romantic considerations. You can choose one of four nationalities including English, French, Dutch or Spanish and select one of four difficulty levels ranging from Apprentice to Swashbuckler.
There are five basic skills to learn and improve upon (fencing, navigation, gunnery, charm and medicine) and you will have choices to make regarding the time period (six possible ranging from 1560 to 1680) or exactly what type of experience you want (e.g., a famous expedition (6 available) or a specific time). The manual contains mandatory information on which to base answers to in-game periodic questions — failure to do so correctly will likely result in your ship sinking much sooner than anticipated.
Sid Meier's Pirates! won the 1988 Action Game of the Year accolade from Computer Gaming World, Best Screen Graphics from the 1988 Origins Awards as well as Best Fantasy Role Playing Game. The game contains more than 70 different screens, a detailed fold-out map of The Spanish Main 1560-1700 and an 80-page manual brimming with historical and game information. ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide