What with PotC 3 coming out this year, Pirates have never been so popular. In swings Tortuga: Two Treasures, an action/adventure romp through the life of a daring buccaneer captain. You play as Captain Thomas "Hawk" Blythe, captain of the Hawkwind, a pirate vessel that served under the legendary Blackbeard himself.
Old Edward Teach wants you to plunder the Spanish Main and so forth, but there are some twists and turns in the story. Tortuga is definitely shaping up to be an interesting game, it has a definite arcade feel to the combat and the action is thick and fast.
It reminds me in many ways to a console based romp known as Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat, I always had a soft spot for that game and it appears that Tortuga is going to be one of those games quite similar to it.
The game has Naval Combat, shipboard combat and of course combats on the land as well - so there's definitely a lot of fighting and yo-ho'ing to be done. On the high sea you'll want to pound the enemy vessel and weaken it (via destroying the hull enough) so that you can make an attempt to capture it.
And this is where the game actually opens, there's a naval battle afoot and it teaches you the controls in a simple manner. The WASD keys are used to move the ship and the W, S keys raise and lower sails whilst the A, D keys let you move port or starboard (yarr Ed) through the lush waters.
The left mouse button is used to fire the ship's cannons and the colour changes to show you the various quality of firing solutions. It's a simple and elegant method that makes the combat fun and not tedious. It does have a distinct PotC (the game not the movie) feel to it as well, and I liked that game even though it had a lot of flaws.
Once you've taken this enemy down enough then you can move your ship alongside it and attempt to capture the vessel, this is where the deck combat comes in and once again the controls are simple enough with the WASD keys being used for movement and a left click of the mouse swings your sword, right clicking will block.
Hold down the directional keys whilst taking a swing and you can perform certain special attacks.
To capture the ship you need to find the enemy captain, defeat them in a duel and the day (ship) is won!
The game continues on in this way with you meeting up with the infamous (patron like) Edward "Blackbeard" Teach and being sent to find the treasure of Henry Morgan. The next mission has you trying to capture a small merchant ship to sneak into Port Royal (Kingston to you and me Ed) and trick the English, as if by the gods of script-magic such as ship sails into view - cue another battle of cannons and swords.
It's here that you find out you can pick up ship repair kits and gold, you can use the latter to repair your ship so the little English merchant won't raise suspicion when you sail it into Port Royal. You can also rescue crew (yours and enemy) if you sail over them - before the hungry sharks decide to turn them into a quick snack.
It's not quite as simple as just sailing into Port Royal, Teach has a few tricks up his sleeve for the English so Hawk has to snoop around the Governor's mansion and get himself caught - leaving a handy fake treasure map in English hands (ooh that sneaky pirate Ed)
The game uses cut-scenes to drive the plot forwards and there are no dialogue heavy RPG-like conversation options here; this is a definite action game. For example in the previous mission we left Hawk trying to sneak into the Governor's mansion over a tall heavily guarded wall.
Hawk goes to the tavern (cut scene time) and strikes a bit of a deal with a fellow inside, the love-stricken Englishman who adores the Governor's daughter gives Hawk clues to get in, if only Hawk will bring him a lock of her hair. And so the plot is driven forwards in that respect, there are a few more swordfights and some sneaking until eventually Hawk is caught and learns that Blackbeard has betrayed him, leaving him to rot in an English cell.
The Governor's spirited daughter plays her part and comes to Hawk's rescue, the scene is set for an interesting showdown with Hawk's former mentor and a swashbuckling action-fest to boot.
Tortuga is shaping up quite nicely, it has that quirky feel to it that pitches it between two of my favourite previously mentioned titles and has some very nice graphics as well. The water is quite well done and there are probably a few optimisations before the game ships in March, but if this is any indication of what Tortuga has to offer then Ascaron are onto another winner with this game.
The combat mechanics and AI are pretty solid at this point but there's still some tweaks to be done, Hawk can face off about five or so opponents at one time and he's a capable and skilled fighter, the developers have managed to pull this off quite nicely and the whole thing feels much more fluid than the recent let-down Jack Sparrow game.
I'll certainly be looking forwards to the game and more of the story. I want to find out the significance of a certain item and more importantly what the relationship between Hawk and the Governor's daughter turns into, especially since there's a slinky pirate captain that sailed with Hawk when he was running with Edward Teach.