In medieval times, dangerous and unexplored areas of the sea were marked on maps with drawings of sea monsters and the words, “Here be dragons,” so as to be avoided. Well, Raven’s Cry is lousy with dragons. The first time I booted it up, it crashed. The second time, another crash. On the third, I was finally able to begin my adventure as the hook-handed pirate Captain Christopher Raven, but that shaky beginning was a pretty clear sign of things to come. In fact, it’s a fitting analogy for Raven’s Cry itself: its naval combat delivers high-seas adventure, but it never finds its land legs. Ultimately, my voyage through the main quest was sunk by a game-stopping bug, but I don’t feel like I missed out by not being able to finish the story.
Gameplay is divided into two separate and unequal aspects: The best part is on the open seas, where you’ll captain a progression of unlockable and upgradeable ships, from the lowly schooner to the mighty Man-o-War, scuttling boats and fleets in randomly generated encounters with the British, French, Spanish, and pirate factions vying for control of trade in the West Indies. Maritime battles play out fast, in real time, and somewhat tactically. There’s some skill involved in choosing the right munitions to damage a ship’s sails, hull, or crew, and then adjusting the elevation and aim of each salvo to compensate for the crests and bows of the sea’s churning waves.
The ship management lends a sense of personal customization to the otherwise on-rails nature of Raven’s Cry. You’ll find officers scattered throughout the Caribbean that can be hired to augment your ship – a good carpenter, for example, can make repairs at sea if you’ve got the necessary timber and sail cloth onboard, saving you a trip back to shore. And ship upgrades provide considerable power, speed and durability: The first time I annihilated an attacking pirate galleon with a single broadside of cannons, I couldn’t help but laugh — the scourge of the seas, indeed.
- OS: Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1.
- Processor: Intel / AMD Quad Core CPU with 2.0 GHz.
- Memory: 8 GB RAM.
- Graphics: nVidia GTX 560 or better, AMD Radeon HD 7750 or better.
- DirectX: Version 11.
- Network: Broadband Internet connection.
- Hard Drive: 7 GB available space.