Swashbucklers: Blue vs. Grey Review

There’s no doubting that pirates are popular. For the past few years every Halloween has been Pirates vs Other Costumes, and there’s been a lot of people trying to take advantage of Pirate Mania. The latest to try and cash-in on pirate fever is Atari with their title, Swashbucklers: Blue vs Grey.

You take the role of Captain Abraham Grey, a sailor during the Civil War era suffering from dissociative identity disorder (he hears a voice in his head). You start off in Havana, with Grey obviously in a bar, and the voice telling him how to get a crew and fight.

Yes, Virginia, the Civil War did have pirates fighting on behalf of the Union and Confederacy. (Wouldn’t that be awesome if it were true?) Historical inaccuracies aside, Swashbucklers plays like a mix of Sid Meier’s Pirates and Way of the Samurai. You have the typical pirate elements such as fighting, naval combat, boxing, dueling, and visiting bars (sorry, no dancing) mixed in with some RPG and customization factors like those found in the oft-forgotten PS2 title, Way of the Samurai.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t a whole lot to do in this game. It’s a blast for a couple hours, but after a while you’ll start to lose interest as there’s basically only three real types of gameplay, and it’s never a real challenge as Captain Abraham is very, very strong.

Combat isn’t a strongsuit for Swashbucklers. It’s essentially “run around and hit square to stab/shoot people” through the course of it, and gets repetitive earlier than the rest of the gameplay. N aval combat isn’t much better, as its basically the same thing, but with the added difficulty of adjusting cannons with the right analog and adjusting sails with up and down on the d-pad. The last type of combat (boxing/dueling) uses square as a low attack, triangle as a high attack, and x as a block. Each action uses energy, and the more energy you use up the weaker your attacks are. It’s not something you need to pay too much attention to, though, because Abraham has no problem defeating any captain who comes his way.

Swashbucklers also suffers from MMORPG syndrome, as a large portion of your quests and tasks will revolve around delivering something somewhere in exchange for a reward.

Perhaps the only thing I actually hated about Swashbucklers was the “voiceacting.” Basically, there is none. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any, though – Akella went the route of Maxis and added some garbled gibberish whenever a person speaks. Unlike the Sims, though, there’s text on the bottom saying what each captain says, making it a stupid addition, and very annoying. I’d much rather have no sounds at all when speaking than hear nonsensical talk even a baby would grow frustrated with.

There’s not a lot to hate in Swashbucklers, but there’s not a whole lot to love. The open-ended aspect of it and the theme are the only parts about the game that make it stand out. The stupid “voices,” generic graphics, and overly simplistic combat coupled with repetitive quests and tasks makes this a game that only a handful of people will play more than an hour or two.

If you’re a huge fan of anything related to pirates or absolutely loved Way of the Samurai, you’ll find things to enjoy in Swashbucklers. If you aren’t either and have never tried Sid Meier’s Pirates, give that a shot, instead.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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