Tortuga: Two Treasures Preview (PC)

A promising title from Ascaron and CDV, Tortuga sets the player as an 18th century Pirate captain in the employ of the notorious Black Beard.

It’s an interesting mix for an action adventure title; the only other game that can spring to mind would be the Sid Meir’s series. While they focused more on a simulation of the pirate life, watching food supplies plummet as you plundered about the place, Tortuga invests in the action.

To the locker of Davy Jones with ya! They’ve surrender, now gut’em

The effects of the water and its rendered beauty is a sight for any sea dog, it really is an amazing part of the game you could appreciate for hours. The ships themselves are carefully modelled with detail from the hulls, the sails and the flags. What’s more, unlike the Sid Meir’s series, you stay in the same view or mode for your ship all the time it’s at sea. So a great deal of effort has also been spent on the surrounding environment from waves, reefs, other ships, islands and the colony settlements.

The version I’ve had the swash-buckled pleasure to set my sails on still has a lot of “deck swabbing” to be done. While the sea combat seems on the mark, the land fairing adventure is far from a competing standard. It feels like a similar situation with Star Wars: Empire at War, space battles were intense and thrilling and dwarfed the excitement of ground conflicts.

If you’re a pirate you really want to be at sea anyway otherwise, well why become a pirate? The land portions of the game are integral to the story and do have detailed settings but it doesn’t feel really as enticing.

The game has some surprising elements in store, stealth is one of them. Yes bobbing around the sea in a floating wood fortress laden with cannons might not spring the word “subtle” to mind, however it’s there. You can launch a small boat for such occasions and lend your wit to some crafty sabotage of an enemy vessel. Crippling a large warship through guile will save you a lot of “I’m doomed!” moments.

Me ship, me ship, me ship is on fire The reef, a ships nemesis

Of course you could be spotted but here CDV and Ascaron have engineered another great feature, the almighty signal flag. You can collect these little wonders throughout your travels (hopefully) and use them to lull the crew of would-be victims into thinking your friend and not a conniving foe.

Again I’m brought back to the seas; a spectacular accomplishment on their behalf, moving the ship about is very easy. They’re by default tied into the WASD keys, with W and S speeding the ship up by opening more or closing the sails. At full sails the ships turn rate suffers so picking up a crew member blown over board would be quite difficult.

You can zoom into the ship and see the crew, though not specifically manning the ship they give a more authentic feel and it’s a nice touch. The models of the ships are ripe to be blown to pieces with chunks smashed away and fires raging. The sails can be shredded to near nothing, these damage types depend primarily on the ammo you or your foes choose to use.

Standard cannon balls are infinite to keep the game moving and not comprise the action, while of course it’s unrealistic but necessary. Other types like grapeshot etc must be purchased and then a quick weapon change will set you up. Damage at sea can be a real hardship so repair kits for both hull and the sails are available. They can be bought or you can find them dropped from enemy ships. They are invaluable, without them many battles would be lost.

A compass minimap of shorts helps identify where to sail toward for mission goals; on the way there its best to keep a watchful eye of surrounding ships. If they come within range they could engage you, wiping out as many as possible could earn some strong coin and booty with luck. Reefs under the ship can tear a boat apart so avoid them like scurvy; you could try and drive an enemy vessel into them.

You can board ships too once they have surrendered to your might, slowing down and boarding the ship will launch an attack where you take control of the character. You face down the crew and then unto the Captain, of course you don’t do this alone as your own men jump onboard and take to the fight.

Sadly the game is heading in linear waters; those looking with envious eyes that may have just come from Port Sid Meir will be saddened to learn of this. With all the graphical beauty of the Caribbean Sea, intense and fast paced naval conflicts, a more open ended result would have been a gem.

The sword fighting is easy in principle, one button to block and the other to slash. Nothing glamorous but it gets the job done, at the moment it needs a lot of attention. I got a little overwhelmed by some guards and that was that, I couldn’t retaliate at all and simply had to watch myself die.

The views are really stunning What it’s all about, flinging solid balls around- yeah!

The story itself is quite an interesting oddball, you’re seemingly betrayed and your voodoo priestess accomplice is in hot water too. Plus the governor’s daughter seems to have little allegiance to both her father and the British Crown. It sets up a (hopefully) juicy Caribbean adventure with treasure and who knows what else lying at the end. Those who love a good seafaring pillage should keep their eye, presumably the one without the patch, on Tortuga: Two Treasures.

Top Game Moment
 : Every moment at sea is a fantastic sight with this games wonderful engine and detail.

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