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Port Royale 2

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy


PC Preview - 'Port Royale 2'

by Mark Crump on Aug. 30, 2004 @ 1:45 a.m. PDT

Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Tri Synergy
Developer: Ascaron
Release Date: September 13, 2004

Pre-order 'PORT ROYALE 2': PC

The original Port Royale is barely a year old, but that’s not stopping Ascaron from coming out with a sequel, thus leading to this Port Royale 2 preview. Fans looking for a major upgrade may be disappointed as PR2 looks like it’s building on the successes of the original, rather than making radical changes to the core gameplay.

As in the original, Port Royale 2 is set in the Caribbean during the 17th century. It’s still an economic simulation, where the goal is to buy goods low and sell them high. While they’ve made changes to the combat models, don’t think you are getting a real-time ship combat game; the combat is still supporting the vast economic model. In the original version the pirates there more for window dressing, but now they are a 5th faction in addition to the English, French, German and Spaniards. The biggest change you’ll notice though the improved 3d engine. The ships and water are now rendered in 3d, but the towns and most of the landmasses are still rendered in 2d. Even with that, it’s still a beautiful game.

The preview build we got had about 5-6 different scenarios on it, most of them being tutorials on how to play the game; half the scenario is spent with the game teaching you a concept, and then setting you off on your own to accomplish a series of goals. The tutorials did a decent job at explaining at the concept, but sometimes I found it hard to put the lessons in practice. For instance, the tutorial told me that buying special goods, like rum, from towns that import it from Europe and sell it on other markets is a good way to make some decent coin. Once the computer set me off on my own, buying those types of goods would result in me taking a bath. That may not be the game’s fault either, as I might just be missing some subtle economic condition.

There are 60 towns in the game, and if you are successful enough you can own all of them, including the 4 starting towns. Each starting town also has a ladder of missions that can you work through, starting with the governors and eventually working your way up to the viceroy’s – the main leaders of that faction – themselves. These missions are the most lucrative as well. Each faction has their own slate of missions, and rumor has it each faction’s missions will take about 8 hours to play. There’s no multiplayer, either, and I can’t say the game really needs it; games where the goal is to make the most money quickly usually don’t translate well to multiplayer anyway.

The enemy factions will go out of their way to get in your face and impede your progress. It will attack your towns if you don’t defend them well enough. Attacks on towns are handled in a manner that was reminiscent of the Civilization series, where each attack is handled on a single-unit basis. While it’s unrealistic, controlling multiple ships in the real-time attacks would be unwieldy.

Ship-to-ship combat will require careful strategy and isn’t just "fire and forget." You’ll need to get into ideal firing position – usually a broadside – and that’s not an easy task when the enemy is trying to dissuade you from doing that. If you attack the fleet leader’s ship or a pirate town, you enter a duel mode, where you where you get to practice your Errol Flynn swashbuckling skills by having a sword fight with the leader. It is also possible to board an enemy ship and take it as a prize.

Port Royale 2 looks like it will do a decent job at continuing on with the successes of the first series, as well as introducing enough new features to keep fans hooked. It is on track for a mid-September release, so if you liked the original you might want to pick it up.

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