This pirate-themed MMO has no truck with comedy voices, parrots, wooden legs, or curling your lip and growling %26ldquo;Yeargh!%26rdquo; at your guildmates. In the virtual Caribbean of Pirates of the Burning Sea, you%26rsquo;re more likely to talk about your new warehouse, a problematic 10% increase in your labour costs, or how the State is taxing your profits.
You%26rsquo;ve got two modes of play to %26lsquo;enjoy%26rsquo; - first, sword-fighting, which takes up about a third of your time. It features one of the worst combat engines we%26rsquo;ve ever seen. The idea is similar to World of Warcraft and most other MMOs: you select attacks from a menu-bar and gradually whittle away your opponent%26rsquo;s health. However, it%26rsquo;s slightly complicated: every player and enemy has %26lsquo;balance%26rsquo; and %26lsquo;initiative%26rsquo; bars. Balance equates to their chance to block incoming attacks - if it%26rsquo;s been beaten down to zero, they%26rsquo;ll be unable to dodge or parry a thrust. Initiative has to be built up through sustained exchanges of blows. Once the bar is at least half-full, you can hit an enemy with very strong attacks. A swipe. A double stab. And a kick in the balls.
The problem: it boils down to 30 seconds of hammering the same move. Most scraps can be won by hitting the %26lsquo;beat%26rsquo; button for 30 seconds - this drives down the initiative - before following up with a foot in the %26rsquo;nads. It%26rsquo;s entirely at odds with the Errol Flynn school of swashbuckling: no using the furniture, no swinging off chandeliers, no snogging the wench between slicing goons. And no fun. This wouldn%26rsquo;t be too bad if you could avoid melees, but quests demand you confront enemies on land. Grin and bear it.