Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MMO Tourist: Puzzle Pirates

The next installment in the Tourism series is about Puzzle Pirates, kind of an odd bird among MMO's. The basic setup is you start out in your hut (which you can upgrade and add furniture to, of course) and set out for pirating adventures but instead of combat or watching status bars for crafting, you play puzzle games, like variations of match-three puzzles, a pseudo-tetris game, more variations of match-three and some others. It's an interesting twist on the genre to be sure and, in short, worthy of a look-see. Break it down.

What I Liked
Doing puzzles instead of combat is fun if you ike puzzle games. Staring out, you will apply to by a sailor on various voyages of player-run ships where you will do sailor jobs such as rigging, ship repair, working the bilge and so on. The player who owns the ship directs things and decides how the loot of the voyage is distributed when you get back to the dock. Along the way, you come in contact with other player controlled vessels or NPC vessels at which point you enter ship combat. As a peon (which I never made it past, btw), you either continue doing whatever job you were doing prior to combat so the ship will continue to move, or you may be asked to load cannons (another mini-game and, I might add, my least favorite next to ship repair. Never got the hang of those two). Eventually, one or the other ship will be boarded and a brawl between the two crews will ensue. This takes the form of either a Tetris attack-type game or a break-out game. I'm not sure what determines which it will be, it may be random. Whoever wins gets money and other loot and you move along. The more you gain during the voyage, the more to split at the end.

I liked how the game was set up, the puzzle aspect made it feel different for all the other MMO's I'd tried, even though it was similar in many other respects and it felt as though you got a lot of bang for you buck, considering I didn't pay anything at all (it's another Free-2-Play model).

What I Didn't Like
I wished that there were more variety to the puzzles. Match-three was the main type at play here, in various forms, and gets tiresome in the kind of game where that's all you do for hours. Also, the format of signing up for voyages, not knowing how long they would last (there didn't seem to be a maximum time limit) and I would always feel bad if I had to log out in the middle. There wasn't much solo content for someone just starting out. The crafting was for once you owned a ship and you could get jobs working in a ship yard by yourself for cash, but they didn't pay nearly as well as even an unsuccessful voyage would. Also, I don't like when games don't have a centralized auction house. Player-run shops are always a mess to navigate through and it feels like a waste of time when I should be able to look through all the postings at once without having to run all over creation.

Why I Stopped Playing
Ultimately, I just got bored. When you earn enough (or I think you can buy one with real money . . . maybe just get your rank up faster, I can't remember. This was a year or two ago) you can get your own ship, but that didn't seem like it was going to happen for me anytime soon. Plus, the puzzles got old after a while, and, while the stuff you could buy in the shop was mostly cosmetic, there were enough areas that were pay only to frustrate me. Bottom line: I would recommend this game to anyone who was thinking of trying out something a little different. I played for around 60-80 hours (and even got my wife to play a bit. She's a sucker for puzzle games) and I would rate my experience at about $10 worth.

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