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The pirate setting has received its share of attention in the video-game world of late. There have been massively multiplayer games, and even campaign-oriented attempts.

Buccaneer, from Stickman Studios, embraces the latter, but with this title, the focus is on running missions against an infamy timer, getting them done as quickly as possible and then moving to the next in a progressive quest line.

It’s slightly arcade-like in its nature, has bright and colorful graphics, and while not a deep, thoughtful gaming experience, it is lighthearted fun.

There are a pair of ways to play the game – either as the single player in the campaign setting, or in a multiplayer setting.

In single player there are several things you have to be on the watch for – among them are infamy points and crew morale. You sail for the pirate faction called the Golden Buccaneers and begin with a sub-standard ship and limited funds. The goal, of course, is to elevate your status and helm the biggest, baddest ship on the high seas. You can gain infamy points by running missions, but while you can gain infamy, you can also lose it. Fail a mission and you lose infamy; take too long to complete a mission and you lose infamy. Crew morale affects the degradation of infamy. You can manage that by completing missions successfully and the higher the morale, the slower the infamy will decline.

The central hub is the player’s home port at Cutlass Bay. This is where you can manage your crew, and repair, modify or even purchase a new ship.

As the game begins, you have 1,000 infamy, 300 gold, an old ship and poor crew morale. You can enter the shipyard and upgrade your vessel, but for a price. You may start off with 12 pounders (cannons) and the upgrade to 18 pounders will cost you 450 gold. Other areas where you can upgrade include the sail quality (which affects speed), and the hull armor (your durability). The player interface has four main areas on the right side of the harbor screen – the chart room (where you can get missions), the Dockyard (ship upgrades and repairs), the Shipwright (purchase new ships) and the Tavern (where you record your progress).

The area around Cutlass Bay is known as The Bowl and the game sort of has the fog of war over the map – in that as you begin, you only see the area around your home port and adventuring will reveal the rest of the world.

Pick up a mission, set sail and achieve what the mission asks you. They start as very easy in difficulty settings and ramp up as you gain that all-important infamy. Each mission is scored and there is a running leaderboard to chart your progress.

And that is the crux of the game – run missions, build up your infamy, improve your ship and build up your ranking. The game also has multiplayer game and there are a couple of ways to participate in a multiplayer game, either through a local network or over the internet. Unfortunately, no games were available during the testing times.

The control scheme for this game could not be simpler. You navigate the ship by using the WASD keys. The mouse allows for a free look around the map and the left and right mouse buttons fire the port and starboard cannons. Angling the ship to get the right line of fire can be a little tricky at first, but you grow into it. This is a sea-combat game, and there is little to deviate from the format of manning your ship, refitting it or buying another and refitting it, and then undertaking the missions. So keeping the controls simple and allowing players to focus on the actual mechanics of the mission was wise.

No, the ship does not handle like one would find in other pirate games, like Pirates of the Burning Sea. It moves at a quick pace, can’t turn on a dime, seems relatively unaffected by currents and wind. In that regard, the game takes on arcade-like attributes.

The graphics are very serviceable and look nice on higher settings. The audio is robust, with some nice instrumental work and the general cacophony of pirates in a tavern setting.

What makes Buccaneer remarkable is that this is a game made by two people. In that regard, this is a wonderful achievement. The game allows for gamers to jump in, run a mission or two and jump out. It can be played for hour-long stretches or 15 minutes at a sitting. There is nothing overtly deep about the game, but that keeps it enjoyable in measured game sittings.

Buccaneer won’t set the gaming industry on fire in terms of gameplay, but it is enjoyable.

Review Scoring Details for Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy

Gameplay: 6.8
Simple control scheme, low load times and quick combat. There is no need to overthink this game. It’s not particularly innovative, but it is serviceable.

Graphics: 7.5
The water looks nice, the effects are fine and the interface is easy to navigate.

Sound: 7.0
The guitar-driven score and background sounds do a solid job.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium

Concept: 6.7
The game is simple in concept and the gameplay elements allow players to jump in and go quickly.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7.0
Nothing deep here but even though the game has very arcade-like roots, taken as a package it works. The scored missions give a reason to try to achieve a quick and efficient solution. This may not be a game that you will sit down and spend hours with, but in increments you should walk away with a smile on your face.
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