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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: Certain Affinity PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 13, 2008 GENRE: Real-Time Strategy
// review by SoyBomb

Must be high to enjoy the high seas.

Age of Booty was one of the earliest games I purchased on the PlayStation Network. Back in the early days of the PlayStation 3's lifespan, I was pretty wary of using my credit card online. But in 2009, I finally caved and made my very first purchase: ...Mega Man 9. Oh, but Age of Booty was snatched up soon after! But, as I've become well-aware of over the past decade or so, I purchase games in greater quantities and far more quickly than I can finish them. After much deliberation — about eight years' worth, to be precise — I've made one major discovery: I REALLY should have played this sooner.

But NOT for the reason you might be assuming.

Age of Booty puts you in the hotseat of a mighty pirate ship. Arrr. In a series of challenge maps, it's your job to capture more seaside towns that your plundering opponents. Arrr. You control one ship, often part of a larger fleet controlled purely by AI. You sail around a hexagonally-based grid, looking for towns to pillage and conquer, just as enemy pirate clans aim to complete the same task. You do so by basically floating next to it and outgunning it with your cannons. Winning the battle lets you claim the town, provided an enemy frigate isn't nearby. The end goal is to basically capture more towns than the others.

At the beginning of each mission, chosen from three difficulty settings, you first have to face the fact that your armada is initially as effective as a paper towel in a dam bust. Your ship starts out weakly, but as you collect resources — lumber, gold, and... I think those are barrels of rum — you can upgrade your ship's armor, speed, and cannon strength, although more cannons means you end up slowing yourself down. Coming into a space adjacent to an enemy ship or an unclaimed town will immediately start a battle, a clashing of cannonballs, and it's mostly a case of "the strongest shall prevail". In order to repair your ship, you have to dock at either a captured town or your own base. Of course, if you're sitting at one of your towns and an enemy ship attacks, you have the advantage, because you're healing up while the opposition is not.

Arrr... ye be wantin' ta play somethin' wit' less scurvy in the coding!

This is all there is to it, and by logic, it's a simple concept that should deliver a good amount of fun. Unfortunately, the thrills don't last very long, and any strategy your mind is attempting to concoct is overthrown by a quick sense of ennui. Furthermore, the game is marred by an enemy AI that apparently has been practicing for a few decades in advance. It's THAT good. Even on Easy mode, you will be taxed. It's too bad your friendly AI isn't half as cogent in its actions. I'm over here getting the living daylights blasted out of me, and my buddy Boaty McBoatface is just sitting around, its captain spelunking for nuggets up his nose.

Another redeeming quality comes in the map editor, which (as you would expect) allows you to construct sailing arenas of your own using all the assets of the regular campaigns across a large hexagonal grid. Anything can go anywhere, including towns, although I was disappointed that you can't even give your towns a name except from a pre-determined list. "Farmingham", it is, I guess. So I created a very simple map and promptly gave it a test drive. The enemy totally whipped my backside.

Now then, why did I ramble on about how long ago I purchased this game? To answer that question, we have to take a look at the other component of Age of Booty, the real selling point of the game: its multiplayer. The single-player aspect may please in the short term, but it's the online multiplayer that gives the game its longevity. So I figured I would try it out. I select "Multiplayer" from the menu... and I get an error message. I try to check the online leaderboards... and I get another error message. There's even a menu option for additional downloadable content... and with it, a third error message. I figured perhaps I wasn't connected to the PlayStation Network, or maybe the PSN's having a few blips, or (even more probably) my internet connection was frizzing out.

Nope, turns out the multiplayer servers have been taken offline as of 2014. I've been basically sitting on a dead product that I should have tackled ages ago. Ages of Booty, I suppose. To exacerbate my element of surprise, Age of Booty hasn't even been available for PURCHASE since that time! So now I'm just babbling on about a game that you can't even acquire any longer on any platform!

Therefore, let this review stand as a record of what once was: a middling rum-buckled adventure that initially pit you against swashbucklers from across the globe to subjugate neutral towns and conquer the world, one wharf at a time, but now is just a poor man's wet Warcraft (not that it was spectacular to begin with). As it stands now, I can no longer harbor any good will toward this game.

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