Xbox 360 Review: Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants

Fancy a trip to the Caribbean? I used to…

This is the first time I’ve played a game in the Port Royale series and I have to say I didn’t know what to expect, I pictured a game going around the Caribbean plundering ships for treasure, playing the part of an actual pirate, but instead it’s a trade management simulator with a few naval battles thrown in (providing you pick the Adventurer option). Now tactical games like these work wonders on PCs, but the transition to consoles hasn’t always been so easy, can this be the game to turn the tide?

In terms of controls, Port Royale 3 does a good enough job in making the controller more user-friendly than you would expect, but it still doesn’t make life particularly easy for you, it doesn’t help matters that after a brief introduction to the controls you are left helpless with no real idea of what to do next, eventually I began getting my ship to travel to another island and trade goods then returned back to sell them for a profit, it’s good in this respect but the novelty wears off quickly.

Luckily if you pick Adventurer, your trade ships will enter battles with pirates and while it’s a risk to your cargo, you get a ton of rewards for defeating them, which makes paying for services and building structures more affordable, while with the basic Trader option you’ll struggle and become incredibly bored, not that the naval battles are that great…they too become repetitive quickly, but at least it mixes things up.
You can build structures like hospitals, houses and trading houses in the islands, but they do all tend to blend together, making it hard to tell what you can build on and what you can enhance, it’s just not user-friendly. The menus aren’t the best either and it’s hardly welcoming to newcomers to trade simulators, it more or less abandons them after showing them the very basic ropes. Visually, Port Royale 3 is a mixed bag. The towns all look fine, but the interface and battles all look average at best, while the sound effects aren’t the best, but voice-acting is fairly decent.

The Verdict

Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants isn’t a bad game by any means, it does a competent job in bringing the trade simulation to consoles, but fails to bring much variation in what you do, while the interface is hardly user-friendly for newcomers. Fans of simulation games like this will enjoy what’s on offer, but will be disappointed that the series hasn’t really evolved or added anything new to the genre.