by Marcus Mulkins
reviewed on PC
"What It Was, What It Is, What It Will Be."
All in all, I think this game would have been better suited to something like a XBox or PlayStation. Using a gamepad or joystick probably lends a greater advantage over those using just mouse and keyboard. As for what the player has to do, it's all about as involved as a First Person Shooter instead of a game where you actually have to employ your intellect. Your intellect only becomes engaged passively, as you watch the cutscenes roll out between tasks. Your limited choices are massively restricted from the get-go, when you have the choice of being Thomas "Hawk" Blythe or Thomas "Hawk" Blythe or Thomas "Hawk" Blythe. You're placed in the Caribbean - a BIG place! - but you can only go to very specific places, one at a time, with no encounters between mandated destinations. You are "offered" tasks, which you must accept.
At one point you are engaged in a duel with Blackbeard, and if you're a particularly adept buttonmasher, it may look like you may even win. But you will lose that fight, and you will make good your escape when you're approaching Death's door. So why bother with the fight? Because it advances the story in the sharply defined manner the author has pre-ordained. And when you're aboard ship, you can't simply evade your opponents and sail off into the sunset -- unless that is the path that the author decided was best. If you sail too far away, the AI seizes control and steers your ship back towards the enemy (which can be a pain if the enemy happens to be next to a submerged reef).
It doesn't help that crucial information is doled out piecemeal, in game. The manual - what little of it there is - is very limited in the "How To" department. For instance, the use of the Dinghy is crucial, but the manual doesn't tell you how to bring it into play. Instead, you have a 30-second popup window that will introduce you to the Dinghy and it's controls, which appears at the beginning of a particular task. That's it, so hope the phone doesn't ring at that crucial moment. In fact, nowhere are you told how to Pause the game. (You'll figure that one out on your own real quick, or else you'll never even be able to get the action started.) Nor do you receive useful information on the characteristics of the nearly one dozen different vessels that you utilize in the game.
And that's because, in the end it doesn't matter. This isn't so much a game as a slightly interactive video storybook. Progress in the storyline is powered by short bursts of rapid buttonpushing and mouse clicking. Do a good job of that, and the monkey will be treated to a banana (the next story snippet).
Bad to the extreme
Because of its design, Tortuga - Two Treasures has about zero replay value. Once you reach the end, you will have learned the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story. There is no point to going back to see if you can improve your performance; it was adequate to get you through every task assignment, or you would never have arrived at the finale. Ascaron does offer an opportunity to post your final score online, so you can see how others fared and how you did in comparison. However, there is absolutely no information as to what actions yield what points. One can assume that killing more AI opponents yields higher scores, but how does that trade off with simply finishing tasks quickly? Do you get more points for trying the game at higher Difficulty levels? If you do change Difficulty, the difficulty is not that the AI gets smarter, but rather that your opponents get more "hit points" and inflict more damage on you. [Me, I'd rather have smarter opponents; more hit points simply means it takes longer to drag 'em down.]
I'll grant that the story in Tortuga - Two Treasures is entertaining. And if you're the kind of person that enjoys copious amounts of slice-and-dice (instead of shoot-first-and-shoot-often), this may be your cup of tea. However, once you figure out that the strategy to use in naval combat is to sail to the far side of a reef and the enemy ships will destroy themselves sailing directly towards you - thus tearing up their hulls - ship-to-ship combat gets old pretty quick. In the end it's up to you to decide whether or not the story is worth the price of 5 matinee movie tickets and about 20 hours of hyperkinetic finger-twitching.
Now, repeat after me: "Once upon a time..."
No Pros and Cons at this time