Xbox Live Arcade has, in my opinion, always put out some quality strategy board games. Catan and Carcassorone are two of the best examples. With Capcom behind the publishing duties and some of former Bungie developers, this newly formed developer being Certain Affinity, doing the honors of creating Age of Booty to fans of the genre were eagerly anticipating the game would be putting it mildly. I am very happy to report that they delivered and then some.
On the surface the game is very simplistic. You control a pirate ship in real time moving across a hex “game board” where the point of the game is to take over and control a certain amount of port towns by laying siege. Along the way you can upgrade your ship and ports you take over with better cannons, armor and speed each giving distinct advantages or disadvantages according to what everyone else is doing. While you are in the process of taking ports for your own here are merchant ships that drop little nasties to muddle the opponent with teleporting whirlpools, armor destroying bombs and a devilish little monkey (you’ll just have to hear him for yourself to know his pain).
The single player experience offers 21 different scenarios where you can test your meddle against the AI and fighting alongside your own computer controller ships. They are separated into your common easy, medium and hard modes. Sometimes you’ll find the most testing part of the single player game is hoping your AI partners will do what you want them to do which all too often isn’t the case. It’s a minor complaint though as it seems adequate enough. If anything, you can look at it as a challenge in itself.
While the single player game is fun enough it is really just a warm up to where the real fun is in Age of Booty, the multiplayer. Everyone who has been gaming for the past decade knows that Bungie is legendary in their ability to make a smooth and engaging online experience. AoB is certainly no exception.
First of all, the game runs as smooth online as any online arcade game I have ever played. It is very refreshing as recently a lot of more high profile arcade games (I didn’t make you think Castle Crashers don’t blame me for your own ideas). They have 4 versus 4, 2 vs. 2 and a wild Battle Royale that is 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 vs. 2. The games are hectic and take a lot of skill and the need to really work together for a win. The lobby and matchmaking are as easy at it gets where you rarely have to wait long to get in your 15 minute match.
On top of all of this Certain Affinity added a very robust map editor that you can invite your friends to join in on the fun. It is limited by nothing but your imagination and desire for more plunder.
As bold as this may sound, considering 2008 had some of the best arcade releases since the 360’s release, I believe that Age of Booty is the year’s finest original title. It has everything. Graphics, sound, game modes and most importantly solid gameplay. I can’t say anything else except that every 360 owner should pick this one up and play incessantly. Lastly I would like to add…while playing the game talking like a pirate is not optional.
A fun story and very well put together title
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The only minor complaint is team AI that doesn’t always want to cooperate. The multiplayer more than makes up for this.
Fun music to go along with the Pirate theme and nice effects.
With the best map editor I’ve used on XBLA there is no end to what people can create and invite their friends to play. In the short time the game has been released XXX has already committed to supporting this game for as long as people enjoy it and have already added a game mode free of charge.
Everyone should own this game. At $10 it’s one of the best values on the 360.