Capcom is definitely all-in on the arcade-style game front. They’ve enjoyed success with Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Mega Man 9, and now they’re traveling the High Seas with Age of Booty. The game came out last week on XBLA, and will be coming in November for PSN and PC, and while frustrating at times, it represents another win for Capcom.
Age of Booty is a pretty basic real-time strategy game, where you play as a pirate in control of a single ship. Frequently, you’ll be accompanied by computer-controlled allies in the single-player quests. Your ship can be upgraded in speed, armor, and rate of cannon-fire. Each level consists of a certain number of towns you have to raid and plunder, capturing them as your own, while trying to prevent your opponents from doing the same.
The right combination of upgrades, speed, and dumb luck will win the day in the easy challenges. The medium ones get considerably harder, with more luck and less strategy needed. Once you get to hard, there’s not really a way you can plan your victories any longer. Frustration is inevitable, and repetition becomes the name of the game, eventually providing wins. If you’ve beaten all the challenges, the game is far from over, thanks to the level editor and multiplayer.
The multiplayer allows you to team up with fellow pirates, providing a new dimension to the play. No longer do you have to rely on a sometimes inept AI player (or players). However, your opponents are human, too. The matchmaking leaves some to be desired; I had opponents that were laughably easy and tear-inducingly difficult in back to back matches. Overall, however, if you communicate via the headset, it’s fun to lock down real strategies and see just how good you really arrrrr.
The level editor suffers from only one problem in the console version: it’s on a console. However, Capcom has figured out a way to remedy this without being too time-consuming or frustrating. You can start from an existing template or a completely empty area. You scroll through your items and blocks, and have complete control over what ships start with, how strong towns are, etc. The possibilities are definitely limitless, and there are achievements to be earned for creation. These levels can then be played in multiplayer, allowing you to set up your friends for some wicked devestation.
Age of Booty is a fun time waster that has some massively frustrating moments. The multiplayer is respectable, and becomes a lot of fun when playing with friends at like skill levels on created levels. If you’ve got friends interested in RTSes and plundering, this is absolutely worth the purchase. The single-player campaign is fun at first, but ultimately too short and too frustrating at the end to be a purchase on its own. Regardless, it’s nice to see Capcom trying something new and adding more to the arcade selection.
Age of Booty is available now on Xbox Live Arcade and will be available soon on PlayStation Network and PC.