Plunder - hands-on

Plunder is a casual real-time strategy game in which you take control of a pirate ship and battle other players for towns and resources. Players navigate around a Settlers of Catan-style hexagonal board in their pirate galleons. Ships have three attributes: cannon, armor and speed, which can be upgraded as the game progresses. Following the rule of threes, there are three resources required for upgrades: gold, wood and rum. Resources are acquired by capturing towns and villages or picking up the crates dropped by vanquished foes. Towns can also be upgraded to improve their cannon and armor ratings. Once a town is under your control, your ship can heal by anchoring next to it for a short time.

Combat is as easy as parking your ship in the hexagon next to the thing you want to bombard. Sinking the occasional merchant ship rewards the player with a Curse powerup. Curses include such devastating attacks as Whirlpool, Bomb, Ghost Ship, and Pilfer, which can quickly turn the tides of battle. Up to eight players can play at a time, and the game will come with a map editor for custom creations that can be shared over the network. During our time with a two-on-two scenario, the controls felt intuitive and the light resource management never interfered with the pace of the action. Plunder is shaping up to be an enjoyable pick-up-and-play game with a nice balance of action and strategy. Plunder will be raiding Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC this summer.

Mar 13, 2008