Ah, back to Pirate Storm I trudge, but this time it is to the concept of control that I turn my attention. While I could talk about the tedious point-and-click gameplay mechanism, it was the lack of control I had over gameplay style that upset me most. It was the skeleton play of commanding a ship, but what exactly made it a pirate ship? No sign of a crew, no pillaging and plundering, and not even the daring, swashbuckling madness of fending off the Queen’s men. Instead, it was pointing-and-clicking my way through a series of pointless quests, bypassing “enemy” ships and giant sea creatures. When I earned enough coin and diamonds, it was possible for me to upgrade my ship and its weapons, but for what? So that I could kill the same targets with more efficiency? So that my ship will be a taller series of specks in eerily quiet waters? This is a far cry from the trailer that had ships sweeping past with the sense of daring and danger.
Maybe I am too used to being able to customize, to be at ground level as I maneuver through a gameworld, and to follow an avatar and not just an object. I long for the ship from Assassin’s Cred: Black Flag where there was at least the sense of controlling a character amidst a crew and getting to navigate a ship and decide how I get to take down the enemy. Do I blast my cannons at them as I sneak up behind, do I hammer away at their defenses as we race across the seas side-by-side? Do I sink the bastard or board her to gain my resources? So many choices, so much more freedom to wreak havoc on the pixelated seas. There was always the sense that I was in control of my battle strategy and that my upgrades has physical manifestations beyond watching the point value for the damage I had done. For me, that is what embodies control worth having: being more than an anonymous ship with little to no direction beyond killing targets and zone hopping. I allow myself to be controlled by the game by allowing it to direct my actions and giving up my free time and my efforts to win something, but I expect a certain level of control given to me in return.