Assassin's Creed Pirates review: Yo ho ho and a bottle of fun
Assassin's Creed Pirates is misleading. For one, it doesn't have to be called Assassin's Creed. The only thing that's in common with the series is the inclusion of pirates and ship battles, but that's all Assassin's Creed Pirates is: pirate ship battles. There's no assassinating. There's not parkour. None. Zippo. Zilch. What there is, though, are pirate ship battles, loot and pirate hymns.
You play as pirate captain on the up-and-up Alonzo Batilla. After a few tutorial missions, earning a new ship and learning combat, you're off on your own across multiple open maps as you search for a legendary treasure. Honestly, the story doesn't matter. It's there to just measure progress.
The game revolves around exploring an open waters map, attack Navy ships, capturing loot and supplies, partaking in races, performing delivery missions, and unlocking fast travel points – all to gain experience and level up. Leveling up is everything in this game; it grants you access to better crewmen and perks, better ships, and more maps. It's a little disappointing that you can't really customize your ship and cannons at all without leveling up. I feel like I'm getting all of these supplies and there's nothing I can do with them until later on.
As far as tactics are concerned, there not quite as deep as you might expect. There's segments where you use your finger to draw paths for your ship to travel through waters, trying to avoid the sight of enemy ships. That said, the combat comes down to firing your cannons off cooldown – which is done by pressing the screen, aiming and releasing – and performing timed evades when the enemy shoots. There's no positioning yourself in battle, as you'll always have the same view. The combat is rather easy – easy to hit and easy to avoid. The only thing that makes it more difficult as the game progresses is that ships have more health, attacks and you face more of them.
All of that said, the combat is mindless but a lot of fun. And the game looks gorgeous on my iPhone 5s, too. As you sail the open seas, the landscape – from the cloud-filled skies to the depths of the water below – is really pretty to look at.
Assassin's Creed Pirates has nothing to do with Assassin's Creed, but it is a fun pirate ship battle game that's easy to pick up and play for a few minutes. There's hours of gameplay to be had, and there's no microtransactions or paywalls. It's quite refreshing for a mobile game. While the sense of progression is shallow, it is there and gives you something to strive for.