It says much about our expectations of modern iOS games that Ubisoft’s refusal to hold a cutlass to our throats and demand we empty our pockets feels worthy of mention.Yet after your initial payment for passage through Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, you won’t need any more pieces of eight to continue sailing.
Nor is the game weighed down by the series’ baggage. A brief early mention of Abstergo is just enough of an excuse for its less authentic elements, including a ship that can be manoeuvred at high speed with little more than a brisk flick of your index finger and a world whose wind always fills your sails. During ship battles, meanwhile, your craft is capable of rapidly dodging incoming cannon fire, darting forward or reversing with a speed and grace you’d more readily associate with Bayonetta than a 500-tonne galleon.
Pirates’ segmented seas are littered with distractions from a fairly forgettable story, from checkpoint races to cargo retrieval, via stealth missions that see you trace a path between patrolling ships like a nautical Flight Control.Your bounty, meanwhile, can be spent on hiring deck hands and other crew members, increasing your ship’s perks until the time comes that you’re going to need a bigger boat to withstand fiercer barrages from enemy armadas.
Naturally, it isn’t as attractive as its console cousin, though zoom down to eye level during its majestic sunsets and the shanties belted out by your crew make for a reasonable facsimile of the console game. Repetition ensures Pirates is best saved for brief trips between the Jackdaw’s more varied voyages, though one suspects its publisher wouldn’t want it any other way.
Assassin’s Creed: Pirates is out now on iPhone and iPad.