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Submitted by Derek dela Fuente on September 13 2004 - 14:48

TVG risks the hurricanes to check out a Carribean trading sim...

There is no denying there is a certain kind of game German publishers get that little bit extra from. Although the extensive amount of detail and the fleshing out of some strategy games may not be to the liking of UK gamers, on some occasions they manage to hit the nail right on the head and we hoped this would be the case with this 17th century Caribbean traipse, Port Royale 2.

The 17th century was a time for rapid growth and expansion and those that dare take to the high seas with a strong head and a well equipped ship could make a great living. This was the time when Pirates were in some domains kings of the sea and could take their pickings from the hundreds of cargo ships that were trading between prosperous countries. The Caribbean was the hub of a massive amount of trade which meant there were pickings galore for Pirates. It also meant that for the honest traders there were big profits to be made but sometimes they came at a price.

Port Royale 2 takes gamers into this voyage of discovery, profit and, in the worse case scenario, ruin!

As you would expect, the game is all about increasing not only your wealth but stature. From the very second you load Port Royale 2 in, with a wealth of endless parameters you have to assimilate and take control of, and the immense depth and detail on offer you can see instantly that a lot time and effort has gone into itâ??s making.

Taking on the role of a young adventurer with bravery and skill, the task is not only to be a kind of entrepreneur but more importantly you will have to be aggressive, a brave and take plenty of risks. If you are happy just to watch the world go by and take on a few easy tasks, then you really do not have what it takes. Conversely be really adventurous, in more than one sense, and the world, as they say, is your oyster.

Unlike Port Royale 1, the sequel has lesser restraints, which means there is no limit to your expansion and if you have the money things can move on rapidly. You can, for instance, grab a fat loan at the start and go for it big time but this could well leave you at the mercy of the loan shark and worse still you will lose the real flavour of the game. Port Royale is about taking chances but ensuring there are good rewards and not ruin at the end! Decision making is certainly the real focus but playing safe at the start is the best recommendation we can give!

Trading is central and fostering good relationships with the many folk you meet also will serve you well especially if you take on a number of early tasks. You may also feel that your future wealth could be in owning lots of property or better still by creating industrial centres to produce goods, then selling them off as you ferry around the many towns. Now this all might sound pretty straight forward but the mechanics of all this â?“ travelling, buying and selling the goods at a good profit, picking out what have the best marks up, etc. - is the crux of things and as always there are endless imponderables to make this simple process even harder.

In the early stages it is too easy to flit between the myriad of menus and sub options and go with the flow, not taking on too much and taking note of a reasonable tutorial gives you a better understating of what is available but in this case giving the well written and extensive manual a good hourâ??s intake is the only real option for the fullest understanding on the progression of the game and all the avenues you can explore.

Consider these facts: You have a number of maps, sea charts and land terrains, flow charts and convoys to take in. There are sea encounters, battle sequences and manoeuvres, switching ships and the rules of battle, which in itself has an extensive list of regulations to understand. There are different methods of attacking, defence, supporting your troops - not to forget - hostage taking. Then there are the towns, workers, citizens and soldiers, with a number of aspects between them. Buildings and structures that include shipyards, Inns and markets, plus many more, along with endless commodities and all the trading challenges! All these have to be considered, plus you have to be take on board the running of a ship, buying and running your other land based business. Pretty extensive, would you not agree? As you can see Port Royale 2 isnâ??t a simple game of moving from A to B and buying a few goodies!

Not only do you have commodities, politics and a crew to understand but there are the many strategies of land combat and some onboard action to mull over!

One new element on offer is land based combat, where you move the soldiers from your ships onto land and attack a town. Thankfully with so much to consider the actual mechanics of combat is pretty much taken over by the CPU as soldiers are automatically grouped together and ready armed and it is up to the player to point and click to the appropriate actions. Donâ??t get too blasé about the combat aspects being the easier elements of the game to work with for the ship combat is much more involved.

With so many facts, paths to follow and channels to open up you could easily believe that you will become muddled whilst having to constantly keep updating your mental database with all the info minute by minute and also constantly stretching and moving the flow of the game. Yes, it is hard to keep tabs on everything but things do start to come together in a structured way after you have set your trading routes, as well as having and owning some nice land based property, which is a perfect starting point. The real thrill comes later on when you can start building towns from scratch which is like a mini â??tycoonâ?? experience in its own right!

The flow of the game builds as you would expect with all the transactions made or proposed and never dissipates if you lose ships and property, for it is then you start to experiment with other options that may be are not so safe but have bigger rewards.

The layout onscreen with large land and sea masses, with towns and ports littered with buildings all merge seamlessly with the many detailed screens of information pertaining to your wellbeing and wealth. Itâ??s the moving between exciting deals and that of the onscreen flow and movement of the game that is the real thrust of the game. You never feel bogged down with data screens nor are you ever waiting too long for the next episode of the game or event to happen.

Fact is trading is delivered with a surge of ideas and avenues which are exciting to explore!

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  • Graphics: 61%
     
  • Sound: 44%
     
  • Gameplay: 84%
     
  • Originality: 72%
     
  • Longevity: 74%
     
Overall Score: 7/10
Avid gamers will be able to spot a cross over with other titles, be it Sid Meier’s Pirates, Sea Dogs or even Tropico but the bottom line could be it is a solid trading game with all the right ingredients that strategy fans would come to expect and in many cases tastefully implemented but that in itself is the one big drawback. Some could comment that it has not moved the genre on but comfortably sits in its pigeon-hole resulting in you getting what you expect and no more. To many this is good but others may want a little extra although we would like to say it is a darn sight better than a great majority of strategy titles! Another point to remember, this is a trading game and comparable on the surface to Sid Meier’s Pirates on a few levels – the ethos and setting. Pirates will have higher productions values, certainly more action with lesser strategy detail!

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