Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone








Ahoy matey! It’s time to sharpen your favorite sword, don that black eye patch, and get ready to sail the seven seas in search of adventure and buried treasure!!! Well…OK. Maybe the real life escapades of a swashbuckler aren’t quite to your liking. If that’s the case, you instead might want to check out the latest title for the Playstation 2 and XBox from Westwood Games, Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat. Chock full of pirate goodness, adventure, solid action, and even a few laughs; Pirates might just be the game for those closet Long John Silver and Blackbeard fans looking to add a little high seas foreplay to their gaming repertoire.

Anyone old enough to remember the Commodore 64/128 computer system should also remember the insane amount of cool games that were available to those fortunate enough to own the computer, or at least bum plays off of your neighborhood friend.  Of all the great games available for that classic system, the one that stood out the most was an extremely addictive adventure title known as Pirates! where the player donned the pirate hat and sailed the 7 seas in search of adventure and booty (the gold kind as well as the womanly). Pirates! was a truly unique game, mixing elements of 3rd person swordplay, a workable economy, real-time ship and land combat. The game was so popular and well-designed; it even jumped over to the second generation of console gaming (with a release of the title on Sega’s Genesis system) to the joys of us that never were able to afford the Commodore during its heyday. With the onset of the 3rd generation of console games, it seems that ye olde swashbucklers are once again having a go at the classic gaming audience, with the release of Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat for the Xbox and the Playstation2.  Completely updated with all of the nifty modern amenities afforded to the new gaming consoles, Black Kat still retains the core of what made playing Pirates! such an incredible gaming experience.

Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat is a simple game for the most part, and shouldn’t be difficult for even the most novice of game players to jump into and begin their own pirate styled adventuring. Players begin the game by assuming the role of the main character, the beautiful and highly adept swashbuckler Katarina de Leon (also known to salty seamen as Black Kat the Pirate). The daughter of a famous Pirate Queen that founded of the legendary group of scoundrels known as the Pirates of Skull Cove, Black Kat embarks on a voyage to not only avenge the death of her father at the hands of the evil Captain Hawke, but to also to discovery the mystery and fulfill her role in destiny.

Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat is set in the realm of the Five Seas , which contains collections of islands classified as "Worlds" because of their unique environments and inhabitants. These worlds include the Pirate Isles, the Haunted Isles, Voodoo Isles, Volcanic Isles, the Winter Isles, and Skull Cove.  As Black Kat, players can explore each of these locations in order to fulfill their  wants and via a gameplay mix of 3rd person action/adventuring and ship based strategy combat.  Add to that a hefty dose of RPG, making Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat an extremely robust Playstation2 title.

Fans of the original Pirates! title will no doubt notice the change of venue in regards to the overall storytelling surrounding this latest remake of the classic game. Dropped are the true-to-life historic travels and events that surrounded the classic game, replaced with a more fantasy-based arena of gameplay.  The 3rd person action is extremely entertaining, giving fans of swordplay something to slash about. Gone are the 2-D ‘parry and thrust’ graphics that once made computer gamers yelp with delight, replaced with a modern 3-D engine more akin to fighting games like Tekken 3 (utilizing special combo moves, attacks, etc.).  Black Kats’ weapon skills can be improved upon during the game, giving her the ability to master such archaic pirate-time weapons as the dagger, cutlass, and the saber. Boss creatures and the other assortment of enemy’s to battle from are some of the most imaginative to date, ranging from insane mermaids, witch doctors, spirit pirates, and even the occasional skull ape. 

The 3rd person aspects of the game can only be outdone by the Ship-to-Ship Combat scenarios that are available during various area Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat. Over 12 pirate vessels from history and legend are available to players within the game, including sleuths, galleons, an frigates. Players can engage enemy ships with a barrage of weaponry ranging from chain shot, stink pots, large cannons, magical weapons, and even the last ditch attack of ramming the other ship. Enemy ships can be commandeered during combat, looted, and even scuttled during gameplay, not unlike the classic Pirates! title. All in all, this is a nice break from the usual 3rd person slash and hack gaming scenarios that have consumed the gaming market as of late.

Interesting character modeling and some comically well rounded storytelling flesh out Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat in a very positive way.  Though not the best graphics on the market today, the developers of Black Kat did a decent job with characterizations found with the game, especially in regards to the main character, Katarina (check out Kat’s Easter egg costuming if you’re lucky enough to find the cheats for them). The enemies found within the game are very unique (not to mention well thought out), giving the fantasy aspect of the game a truly fun and different approach. The overall theme is interesting as well, giving players something more than just the usual slash-and-hack fighting game. Players are given choices in their RPG adventures (just like the classic game) allowing them to participate more in the overall scenarios that find their way to the surface during the course of Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat.  This added with the intense diversity offered with the multiple locations that the game takes place in (fire encompassing areas of the Volcano Islands, the Wintry conditions of the Winter Isles, etc.) made the gaming experience very different than the run of the mill.

All in all, Pirates-The Legend of Black Kat was a great game to play. Though not as open ended as its classic predecessor, the game itself really made up for that with shear uniqueness mixed with a lot of fun. Exploring the varied terrains, plundering the locals and battling the evil forces that surfaced time and again was just as enticing in this game as it was in the original release, released some 15 years ago.  Though the graphics aren’t as sharp as other releases for the Playstation 2, gamers should find solace in the overall gameplay that Westwood’s team put together in this release.

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