Tortuga tries too much and accomplishes far too little. It's a broken game, unfinished, derivative and sloppily produced, filled with uninteresting environments and levels
Pirates are so cool right now. It’s undeniable. Which is why it’s only natural that I want to be one. And so do you. And so does everyone who works at Ascaron, only they’ve gone one step further and made a game about it.
Tortuga looks best when it's zoomed out
Because when it's not, the graphics suck
At one time or another, everyone decides they fancy a change. The grass is greener on the other side, and they want a new lawn. Or gazebo. Or career. You get the idea. Because, let’s be honest, carving out our own identity is synonymous with our way of life, isn’t it? It’s a symbol of freedom that society truly believes in. Our destiny is our choosing, and free choice is a liberty that we gladly seize. In the case of developers Ascaron, they decided they didn’t want to whittle away their existence producing mostly trading themed strategy games such as Port Royal and Patrician, no, they wanted a change in direction. They wanted to make trading themed action games. Which leads us to Tortuga: Two Treasures.
It all starts well enough. Imagine you’re a pirate and you’re sailing about a bit with the sea breeze wafting through your hair, haughty wench at your side. One loading screen after clicking ‘new game’ and that’s the game you’re playing. The aforementioned haughty wench is even a voluptuous voodoo princess of something or other, which can only be considered a pleasant bonus. There’s jingly swashbucklin’ generic pirate music in the background. All is well. Indeed, at first glance the pirate’s life is a good one. You’ve got a cool ship, with sweet cannons and you’re told to sail over to a fellow pirate, board his ship and give him a good killing. He’s done something to anger your boss, you see? Who just so happens to be legendary pirate extraordinare Blackbeard himself. Which is nice.
But then, it all begins to turn a little sour.
You board the ship, like a pirate would, and suddenly you’ve been thrust into what can only be described as one of the worst combat engines seen in the last five years. Then all becomes excruciatingly clear, this ridiculously poor combat is half of what Tortuga is about. For an adventure game, the combat sucks. It’s as simple as that. From the lousy controls to the embarrassing blood spray that occurs when you swish your weapon into your enemies, there’s no redemption to be found here.
Hawk, realizing that he's the protagonist in a lousy game, decides to end it all
A guard looks perplexed as he falls to the ground
It’s like Tortuga is stuck ten years into the past, when 3d games were just starting to appear. It‘s technically lacking in every single thing a modern action game should include. The top three offenders? Firstly, the controls are terrible. They really are. Hawk feels like he’s running over jelly for the entire game. Secondly, the camera refuses to do what it’s told. Finally, and this is the most painful flaw, is the fact that Tortuga boils down to a game where you do nothing but run up to an enemy (sometimes a challenge in itself) and hammer away with the attack button until it’s dead. Sometimes you’ll get hurt, so you press the button to drink a health potion and then return to mashing attacks. It really is outstandingly tedious and you’ll more than likely have it uninstalled before the game plays itself out. Of course, the game offers you combos, shiny weapons and more advanced moves as it progresses. But you won’t need it, because clicking the mouse button like there’s no tomorrow will get you through almost every situation.
You’ll spend the rest of the game back in the seafaring mode. Which, while being more palatable, still isn’t really what you’re after. There’s a small solace in sailing, though, as it help numbs the pain from some of the atrocious combat. In fact, sometimes it’s on the borderline of becoming fun.
But, before long, you’ll be back to the third-person combat again. Tortuga splits itself up into little missions that usually last about three or four minutes each. It cuts the game up, making it feel disjointed as a whole. Then there’s the small matter of the ‘mission complete’ theme that plays every time. You’ll be forced to hear the “diddly-dee!” jubilation theme a lot, even though it becomes more insufferable every time.
And that’s just about it, really. Until the game starts trying to accommodate for it’s lousy design by ramping up the difficulty level beyond any reasonable consideration. Instead of jabbing away at one enemy, now you’re in front of nine. The first time this happens you’ll probably retreat in the hope of picking one or two off. In reality that just means you’ll get killed even sooner. No, the only suitable course for action in an instance like this is just to press the attack button even faster, because that might fix things. Shockingly, it usually does.
Continuing it’s underwhelming trend, Tortuga is technically unimpressive. It forces you to install the PhysX software, but you won’t see it put to good use here. Then you’ve got the tame, uninspiring levels that look like they were mashed up quickly on a Friday afternoon. Or the endlessly recycled models, all complete with comical animation. Truth be told, the only thing that looks like it’s had any real work done on it are the ships, but the seafaring mode is not nearly good enough to save all the flaws.
While all this is going on, the story plods on at a decent pace. You get betrayed by Blackbeard and are forced to flee to the island of Tortuga, get a squad together, and dish out a hearty serving of revenge upon your former boss. And then there’s some other mystery that starts to appear. Stuff to do with piratey treasure and maps. It’s hard to care, though, perhaps because of the underwhelming graphics, or maybe because the subtitles (on by default) often don’t actually match what the characters are saying, or maybe just because the game isn’t very good and you saw most of the storyline when you watched Pirates of the Carribean for the first time.
Like any self-respecting pirate would, Hawk makes his wench walk five paces behind him
The seafaring mode. Where you'll probably have some fun
Tortuga tries too much and accomplishes far too little. It’s a broken game, unfinished, derivative and sloppily produced, filled with uninteresting environments and levels. A pirate’s life is supposedly full of action and adventure, but you’ll find none of it here. If Tortuga proves anything, it’s that the developers at Ascaron should stick to strategy games.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Sailing around in the ocean, looking for ships to bust up and plunder.