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Have You Played... Sid Meier's Pirates!?

Sid's Vicious Sailors

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The exclamation mark doesn't mean I'm shouting at you. It's part of the game's name. Originally released in 1987 (though I first played it on an Amiga in the early nineties), Pirates! was the first game to carry Meier's name in the title, although not the first game created by the statesman of strategy. It's a fine early example of open world gaming, allowing players to create a unique legacy within its ever-changing world.

Meier's latest, Starships, has little in common with Pirates! but you can't swing a pegleg without hitting a game that carries marks of its influence. Sunless Sea has some of the same saltwater in its veins, although it has mostly jettisoned minigames, replacing them with myth, mystery and memoir.

I remember how pleased I was when I mastered fencing but I never did get the hang of port raids.

The dynamic world is the game's most extraordinary feature. Major nations shifted their allegiances and engaged in hostilities from time to time, and I often felt like a piece of flotsam, tossed on waves of misfortune. It was the first time I'd believed that the actors in a game world continued to go about their business when my back was turned, and that sensation is still precious and rare.

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About the Author

Adam Smith


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