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Age Of Booty Impressions

Submitted by on Thursday, 4 December 20082 Comments

With little better to do, I downloaded the Age Of Booty Trial today to give it a whirl.

Should I have set my hopes up for the high seas and open oceans in this click ‘n’ go pirate-a-thon? Would I have been better off lowering my expectations like the trawling nets of a weirdy-beardy fisherman on one too many rums?

Click through for my firsthand account of life on the waves; seasickness and all.

In Age of Booty (AOB henceforth), you command a ship around a hexagonal grid system in search of the titular booty necessary to upgrade your vessel. There are a number of ways to get hold of said booty in your travels; Towns, Villages and Crates.

Fortified towns dot the map like persistent acne, interspersed with smaller helpless villages. Both towns and villages yield rum, gold or wood once conquered. Once beaten, villages constitute a one-off payload affair whilst the towns provide a continuous, sustained booty build-up. Consequently, the towns are a bit trickier to beat due to their defending cannons.

As a result, you spend a sizeable chunk of the game gambolling out into the ocean and taking on a town, only to return looking sorry for yourself whilst the town escapes relatively unscathed. At least that’s what I did.

Naturally, there are some towns which are much easier to defeat than others. I just wanted to go out and take on a city, watching from the comfort of my own sofa as the pesky landlubbers flee my raised hook.

Crates are scattered throughout each map and contain a smaller amount of loot. Once collected, another crate is immediately auto-generated elsewhere and time can be spent simply marauding the seas looking for these crates if it takes your fancy.

The good first; at a dinky 44MB, this game is a snap to download and install. The trial version can be upgraded to the full version in-game through an activation key of a few KB in size, which makes it all the more tempting to jump right in and upgrade straight away. A very clever ploy of Capcom, and not used very often for some reason.

The menus are pretty standard – if a little garish – with initial levels intelligently designed to lead you in easily and get you used to the controls. AOB’s learning curve is more akin to a Sunday morning stroll than the vicious thrashing some other games dole out (Wipeout, I’m looking at you).

Graphics are bright and bold throughout. Greens and browns of the ‘I-AM-LAND’ tone indicate terra firma, generally surrounding bright blue ‘I-AM-SEA’ areas which are – you got it – water. A colour scheme only a trained chimp could think inventive.

Maybe my TV settings are all wrong. Hang on…

…No my TV is just fine. It seems this game has taken a very vibrant palette and run rampant with it. After twenty minutes of the game blaring into the room in all its jingle-tastic technicolor glory I was close to losing the plot completely.

In fairness, this game has got some things going for it. The hexagonal grids work fine for getting about, but I found my floating pointy cursor wandering off at times. It ought to snap to the grid rather than hang about the general vicinity of a hexagon. That kind of thing is for squares. (See what I did there!? never mind…)

The initial level introducing the controls, etc. is pretty uninspiring. After this tutorial level you are sent off to swat your first sea dog. Indeed this does prove to liven things up. A little bit.

Just don’t go looking for great set-pieces here or you’ll wind up with that sinking feeling.

I found the ship-to-ship combat rapidly became dull and cumbersome; rather than simply clicking on the enemy ship to go hunting him down you are left to click on each.. individual… hexagon. To say it slows things down is an understatement.

Thankfully this problem doesn’t seem to arise with the towns and villages. Probably because they are stationary. Which makes sense. I suppose.

Your ship automatically attacks anything within a one-hex radius with no obvious target preference, meaning you can quickly become overwhelmed if you aren’t careful. This could be a great tactical mechanism if it didn’t feel quite so accidental in gameplay terms.

I would write at length about my experiences online if I had any to really speak of; game matching is slow to the point of being ridiculous. I waited half an hour for AOB to find me 3 other people to play the game with. After a wait that long, nothing the game could have done would have made up for such a long pause.

Multiplayer online was playable. With faster game matching it may well be fun, but my view is very much jaded after – every time – waiting an age to get bootylicious.

Overall, I was really hoping for AOB to be something special but, in my playthroughs to date, the game has proved to be ‘special’ for all the wrong reasons. If you liked the cheesy puns and maritime references in this article, I heartily recommend giving the trial version a shot before pulling (hexagonal) anchor and setting (hexagonal) sail for the (hexagonal) waves.

Forewarned is forearmed: at the time of writing, online multiplayer is not available in the trial version.