E3 2011: Raven’s Cry preview – Oh, Sid Meier’s Pirates, where have you been?

If you’re anything like us, you absolutely adore Sid Meier’s Pirates. Back in 2004, the game was an absolute masterpiece, and it has managed to age well in the ensuing seven years (even mangled Wii port was still vaguely awesome.) That’s why we’re so pumped for Topware’s Raven’s Cry, a grittier and more realistic look at the often overly-childish pirate genre.

Sid Meier’s influence is easy to see even in just the small amount of content we’ve seen from Raven’s Cry. The game contains a similar form of hybrid gameplay to his Pirates!. There’s your expected amount of sailing the seven seas and blasting fools with your giant cannons, and there’s also quite a bit of on-foot swashbuckling to be found as well. The sailing sections look great, and the ships themselves are huge and beautiful. During the ship-to-ship battles you’ll be moving around on the ship deck supervising the action. The battles aren’t limited to ship-to-ship either: we also saw the ability to bombard a port on the shore.

Rather than the turn-based battles found in Pirates! or that game’s 1-v-1 sword battles, Raven’s Cry is taking things a step further by implementing shooting and slashing sections that play similarly in function to a 3D brawler. When not fighting, there is very little restriction on what you must do. There’s a big open world to explore, and it’s up to you to venture out and make your fortune. There is a central narrative, and it seems fairly fleshed out too, but you won’t be constantly bound to it. There will be a morality system ala Mass Effect though it’s not quite as deep. And there will be multiple endings based on your choices.

We’re still waiting on a lot of details about Raven’s Cry, as this was just our first taste of the game. But what we’ve seen thus far is very promising. We’re hoping Topware and developer Nitro give the production the resources and development time it needs to ensure that it reaches its Pirates! level of potential, because seven years is far too long a time to wait for another dose of 17th century high-seas sailing. We’ll be keeping an eye on Raven’s Cry and we’ll be looking forward to its release in Q2.

Jun 17, 2011