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Review: AirBuccaneersGreenlight Steam PC indie LudoCraft
Developer: LudoCraft Ltd.
Publisher: LudoCraft Ltd.
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: December 5, 2012
ESRB: N/A (T recommended)
LudoCraft’s AirBuccaneers is one of the first few out of Steam Greenlight’s gates. While most developers using the service have presented single player experiences, AirBuccaneers is one of the few bold multiplayer-only titles. It certainly looks to be innovative as well, but it all comes down to how fun the game actually is. So, is it a worthwhile new addition to a multiplayer fan’s regiment or should it be skipped?
Although the online multiplayer world is not starved for games, there is definitely room for something different. AirBuccaneers is just that with its focus on airships and team play instead of allowing everyone to wreak havoc on their own. Each game takes place primarily in the skies upon airships suspended by balloons. Once on these ships, you begin a game of aerial battle between Buccaneers and Vikings.
The two teams are equally matched in skills and ships. What makes the game so interesting is the necessity for teamwork. When you’re on a ship hundreds of feet in the air there is really nowhere else you’re expected to go. Sure, you can jump off, but no one is about to survive the fall. Boarding your team’s ship means that you are there to play an integral part of the crew. Unless you’re standing still, anything that can be done on the airships is beneficial to the team.
For one, you can man one of four cannons stationed on both sides of the ship. These roles get taken fast, but are exciting to take control of. Once manning a cannon, you must aim without any handy reticle, light the cannon, and position it before it shoots. As enemies are moving (as well as your own ship) it isn’t just a matter of learning how to judge aiming to distance with the cannon. You must also account for their movements as well as speed. When up close to an enemy airship, you can even change out the cannonballs and make the device an impromptu flamethrower.
There are many other tasks to perform aboard these vehicles. You may scope out far away enemies with a telescope and let the crew know where they are. Or, if you equip a specific weapon you are able to block enemy cannonballs before they damage your own ship. That requires a great deal of timing practice, but is great when it works. Then there are the services you can provide if getting into fights isn’t your thing. Players may help cannon users by speeding up their loading time or even repairing the ship after it has taken damage.
Overall, there are three main ways to play. The first two have already been explained but the last will probably excite fans of ships the most. As you might expect, players can also steer ships. It is a lot of fun but something that should not be taken lightly. With a full crew aboard, no one would be laughing if you just started spinning the boat around or lost control of it. In an attempt to keep these types of players away, gamers with higher rankings are able to take the job of steering themselves. It does serve a purpose, but may annoy new players who are trying to actually be helpful.
The reason there are three main rolls players can fulfill is because, depending on what you do during a game, points will be awarded to that play-style. After enough rounds, you will have enough points to work on skill trees specific to your expertise. Interestingly, any time you gain a new skill you also gain a new flaw. Flaws are meant to counterbalance the skills, making sure that no one can become so incredibly powerful they destroy the game’s balance.
Earlier it was mentioned that there are ways to use the cannon for close combat. That’s not all you can do though. One supremely entertaining aspect of the game is the ability to overrun the enemy’s ship. If they are close, you can jump off your own ship and attach a rope to theirs. From there, you climb up and attempt to overpower their crew with swords or other weaponry. It can be daunting at first to try and board another ship, but after awhile it becomes second nature to do whenever enemies are nearby.
Much of the fun of playing AirBuccaneers is that it is incredibly simple to start playing but also fairly strategic. The more you play the more you understand about the game and learn new bits about it. You can spend hours playing without ever looking into the skill trees and have no issue. Or, you can become focused on one play-style and hone those skills to the best of your ability. So far, the game is incredibly appealing.
That doesn’t mean the game is flawless. There are still some issues worth pointing out. For one, there is not a wealth of maps to play on. After a while, some players really get a grasp of what works best on one map and no longer want to experiment. Similarly, one map in particular is structured in such a way that one team basically always seems to win. It is odd, but at least there is only one map with this issue. Then there are technical issues that some encounter, such as being kicked after a game map changes a few times on a server.
Then there are issues that are not the fault of LudoCraft. As of right now, there are only a dozen or so servers for the game. Most of them are completely empty though. During most hours, only two servers really see big bunches of activity and are filled to the brim. Hopefully, as the game has been out longer, more players will come to it and fill up other servers. Since the game already has a dedicated fanbase, I expect that more players (as well as more servers) will arrive soon.
AirBuccaneers is some of the most fun I have had in an online multiplayer game since Team Fortress 2. It certainly has its quirks, but overall, manages to be a simple to understand but fairly complex game. Those who have always wanted to be a “pirate” in a game will probably find that it suits their needs too. It would be nice to see more content available, but as it stands, AirBuccaneers is still a tremendously enjoyable experience.
+ Gameplay concepts are simple enough but require time to master
+ Team-based play is put together well
+ Battles are rarely dull
- Lack of servers and more than a large group of players at the moment
- More levels or ship types could be added
Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
AirBuccaneers is a solidly entertaining team-based multiplayer game for all those who have ever wanted to experience a pirate’s lifestyle.
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