Age of Sail
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Monday, 08 August 2005
Gone are the days of when Lord Nelson and Francis Drake ruled the seas and the USS Constitution and HMS Victory ruled the waves. However you can always relive history again using Age of Sail.

We have been a bit spoiled with games about pirates and merchants, however there are fewer pure sea battle games out there. Talonsoft tries to fill the gap with Age of Sail, which includes over one hundred scenarios and a number of historical important ships and battles.

When this game was released real-time strategy started to take off and the developers made a big deal of it, the game was not only real-time, it was also in 3D. The graphics are sure in 3D but they are not that detailed. The sea doesn’t look that great either, it’s blue, no surprise there. However it looks more like a flat blue cloth and barely move at all. I remember an artist telling me that the sea wasn’t actually blue but reflected by the color of the sky. So yes it’s ok to make the sea a bit greenish at times, something for future sea battle game developers to think about.

The game comes with a scenario mode, a campaign mode and a multiplayer (by modem) mode. In the scenario mode you can select a couple of tutorials or historic battles. The campaign modes take you through a couple of different wars, such as the war of Independence, the Napoleonic wars and so on. Each campaign features a great number of scenarios and it takes some time to play them through.

However the real core of the game is the battles. Naval combat in the game is nothing like certain movies on the same theme. Here each movement takes sometime and you really have to anticipate the movement of the enemy before he makes them. The whole point is to get one side of the ship within range so that you can fire at the enemy.

The action element of the game is pretty non-existing, the battles takes time and you have to have patience. Actually sometimes the battles are so slow that you can easily answer some emails while playing, sounds crazy but it’s the truth.

Movement is not that hard to grasp, it can be confusing in the beginning because you think everything will happen at a blink of an eye. If you want the ship to steer starboard you just click an arrow and in a couple of minutes it will have done so.

You can also select how you want the sails to be set on the ship to increase or decrease speed, or make the ship more maneuverable using battle sails.

If you play against the computer you will notice that this is not that easy. The AI roughly knows the range of your guns so sometimes he manage to keep out of range while still firing at you. When taking hits you have different percentages to show how much is left of the hull or the masts.

If you get tired of shooting at the enemy you can always try to board the enemy ship. Then you have to get your ship behind or in front of the enemy; otherwise his cannons will get you before you even get near him.

The AI is actually pretty intelligent and it knows what to do in most cases. If you get closer it tries to put the ship in to position to fire at you, and it knows how to keep out of range and how to attack and where to aim when firing, a worthy opponent. There is also a multiplayer mode, which we haven’t tried, but it should be fun.

Before the battles take place you are presented with an intro. The intro shows the Talonsoft logo and a video, but somehow it feels like the intro is in the middle of the game since it comes after you have made your selections in the main menu, next time set the intro in the beginning, hence the name.

Age of Sail have a pretty nice and dramatic soundtrack that suits the game well. However the tracks are to few and you might want to turn it off.

To summon up Age of Sail is a good game but it’s developed for a certain audience. The audience has to like historical strategy games and especially games about ships, and some patience is required.

Related: Age of Rifles
Developer: TalonSoft
Related Website:
Publisher: Empire
O/S: Win 3.1/95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Cost of Full Game: N/A
Year of Release: 1996

486DX 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM
Tested on:
Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon Graphics Card

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