Game Reviews

Playmobil Pirates

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Playmobil Pirates

This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

Good gosh and blimey, Gameloft - you sure are cracking these freemium games based on Hasbro licences out fast.

A fortnight ago, it was My Little Pony. Then there was Littlest Pet Shop. And now I've been assigned Playmobil Pirates. What's next - a free-to-play world builder based on hit eighties cartoon series M.A.S.K.?

Actually that sounds pretty good.

First impressions

Playmobil Pirates makes an absolutely cracking first impression. The opening cinematic is reminiscent of the humour found in Traveller's Tales's Lego creations. Cheeky swashbucklers set out on the high seas, get into a scrape with the 'evil' Black Beard, and wash up on an island that they'll be calling home.

Into the game proper and it's a detailed, gorgeous bit of land you've floated onto. The game's camera pans and zooms-in to show areas of interest, lending an element of the cinematic to proceedings. The buildings are intricately designed and hint at a Port Royale quality of visuals. The 3D Playmobil characters toddle along, going about their business.

I began by hiring a crewmate from the Tavern, and immediately started blowing up chunks of rock with dynamite to expand, chopping down trees to clear more space, and buying houses for my team.

Then I purchased a boat to go on adventures, playing a rail-shooter mini-game to reach the distant shore that was my goal. Simple fare, but fun nonetheless.

No sooner had I arrived back home than I was informed that skeletons were about to attack my recently acquired ship. This just wouldn't do, so I set up defences. This formed the beginnings of a tower defence-style element that looks to be crucial to continued success.

Loads to see, and all of it pretty. Day one has been more than interesting and I can't wait to explore more.

Day 3: Grind ahoy!

Though there's a lot to see and do in Playmobil Pirates, the pace of progress remains slow because you need specific types of pirates to perform specific actions. If you want to chop down a bush, you'll need a Worker. If you want to create a building, you'll need a Builder. These personnel need houses to live in - which are cheap enough - but hiring them is pricey.

Since the island has lots of flora and rocks to clear, which all takes time to do, and each building is substantial, it'll take your few workers a long time to clean up and then expand your pirate base.

At least money flows plentifully after jaunts on the blue stuff. You're rewarded handsomely for your adventures - it's usually enough to get a new building or two - but you'll need to make a few excursions to afford a new pirate.

Because this element of adventure is so crucial to success, I've also upgraded my defences so that invading pirates can't damage my ship (which usually requires a lengthy repair session).

Day 7: Small leaks in the hull

The beauty of these longer form reviews for freemium games is that it gives you time to see the niggling little elements of games that, when combined, lessen the appeal of a title. There aren't many of these niggles in Playmobil Pirates, but there are definitely elements that need improvement.

I was invaded by Snakes, as well as a soldier, and these proved a pain to get rid of. They take an age to defeat, but the main issue is simply selecting them. When they're near buildings you often wind up selecting the dwelling instead of the enemy. Futz about for too long and they'll knock down your crew, incapacitating them.

It's also tricky to see how many workers you have free at any one time. Every time you assign tasks to the available pirates a menu appears suggesting that you buy more actions. It would have been better to see how many mates were idle than to be forced through an irritating pop-up menu each time you overstretch.

Playmobil Pirates is a slow burning game, but a fun one. With great looking mini-games to keep you busy when you're not building, as well as charming presentation and humour. If you've got the patience for it, there's a lot to like here.

Well that's what we thought, but we want to hear you opinions too. You can let us know all about them in the comments box below.

Playmobil Pirates

Playmobil Pirates is full of personality and contains some excellent visual design. The handful of issues present here only slightly detract from an otherwise very entertaining freemium builder