Friday, December 07, 2012

AirBuccaneers Gameplay Review

I'm playing AirBuccaneers, an airship combat game by LudoCraft.

The game is multiplayer-only, lacking a training mode, a decent tutorial, and a meaningful written manual. There is no limit to the number of players that can man a ship, which allows for varied boarding and defending strategies, and there are a handful of ship types that alter the speed and available weapon mounts. Experience earned during matches can unlock new perks and clothes, based on the role you play the most (though there are no specific classes). Respawning allows you to fly to any ship on the battlefield and join the fight quickly. It can be difficult to tell the red-and-blue teams apart, especially against a lit background. The pilot controls the ship, placing the gunners in prime position for an attack, using boost for quicker movement. The ship controls are poor at giving feedback (current speed and direction inputs) and imprecise overall. Cannons have a large firing delay and lack an aiming cursor, which makes successfully hitting an enemy ship very rewarding though less satisfying due to the imprecise nature of the mechanics. Three ammunition types are available, appropriate for different ranges. AirBuccaneers lets you board enemy ships, and each sailor has weapons for offensive and defensive purposes. You can also repair or buff, although your options here are limited and feedback (much like piloting) is poor. Overall, AirBuccaneers lacks compelling gameplay unless you are operating a cannon or driving the ship, but the boarding elements add some intrigue. I like the spawning technique, lack of classes or ship population limits, and the skill-based aiming of AirBuccaneers, but find that it’s more difficult on novices and has less to do during flight when compared against competing airship combat games.