High Seas Trader (AGA version)

Title	       High Seas Trader (AGA version)
Game Type      Strategy
Players	       1
Compatibility  A1200/A4000
HD Installable Yes
Company	       Impressions
Submission     Seppo Typpö (groucho@pp.inet.fi) Profiled Reviewer

One of my all time game favourites is "Pirates!" from Sid
Meyer/MicroProse. In "Pirates!" you get to captain your own ships, fight
against other vessels, trade goods to gain wealth and freely choose and
create your own destiny in a game world of various opportunities.

High Seas Trader from Impressions (the makers of car business sim Detroit)
takes the same concept and expands it further. It builds on the same basic
elements offered in the aging MicroProse classic and adds more complex
simulation of sea combat and trading. But does it beat Sid Meyer's

The AGA version of High Seas Trader comes on four disks. A decent manual
with Amiga technical supplement and a tutorial book is provided within
the package. The game is hard disk installable.

The player takes the role of a merchant sea captain during the 17th and
18th centuries. The short term goal of the game is to profitably trade
between various ports while managing your own ship. This means buying and
selling goods, equipping and upgrading your ship with men and powerful
armaments then sailing through the high seas navigating to the next port
and sometimes fighting against pirates.

The long term goal is to rise within the ranks of the Merchant Guild with
the ultimate goal of reaching the status of Viscount. To reach this rank
you need to be skilful and fearless in battles and possess a considerable
amount of riches of all kinds. All this takes time which means if the
player wants to succeed in this game he (or she) needs to master all
three of the main 'arts' of the game: sea combat, navigation and trade.

Trade is a complex beast in this game. There's a large quantity of
commodities which can be sold around the world. As the prices change
through time (due to historical or other events in the game) players must
very carefully plan the actions (especially early in the game) if he (or
she) means to succeed in their selected career. This can get quite
frustrating in the beginning but gets easier when the game progresses and
the player gets more accustomed to the game world, tactics and politics.
Shortcuts to riches surface from time to time and provide a way to quickly
boost the player's wealth. There is a certain risk in following these
paths (like in real life) but generally the reward is worth it.

Navigation is slightly simpler stuff. It consists of setting the waypoints
of the trip on the map and then manually navigating the final leg to the
port in a 3D sim part. Maps need to be bought from the charthouse from
time to time. It is very important to keep them up to date as they provide
valuable hints of the more dangerous areas of the sea.

The combat in High Seas Trader is the most frustrating part (at least in
the beginning). Unlike "Pirates!" the combat is seen through first person
perspective which is original and extremely challenging. It resembles
the surface gun battles in sea simulations like Silent Service. Before
firing the selected salvo the ship first needs to be manoeuvred to a
firing position. The movement and bearing of the opponent must also be
taken into account. With both the player's and the enemy's ships moving
all the time, hitting the enemy vessel is pretty difficult and can be
learned only after some practice.

For those who don't want to fight in 3D there's an auto-combat option
which can be used to compute the outcome the battles. The problem is it
only helps to a certain degree and might lead to an unexpected ending (and
it does not improve the player's 'bravery' status). Another problem is
that unless one becomes skilful in manually driven battles one cannot rise
above a certain degree in the ranks which can bring the progress in the
game to a grinding halt. This will surely annoy those players who would
like to concentrate only on the strategic part of the game.

In conclusion, High Seas Trader offers an entertaining mix of business sim
and challenging sea combat simulation. Whether one views it as a
classic game depends on how willing he (or she) is to go through the agony
of mastering the trade and especially the combat. Those who invest the
time and effort will ultimately find the game a thrilling experience. To
the more impatient players who would like a taste of life at sea, I'd
recommend getting "Pirates!" as it is generally easier for beginners to
get into. But if you have played "Pirates!" to the death and yearn for
similar but deeper challenges, you cannot go wrong with High Seas

Graphics : Nice 256-colour graphics which mix static trade screens with
           nice sprite based 3D combat and navigation simulation sections
Sound    : Decent soundtrack and sound effects
Gameplay : Challenging trade simulation with very challenging combat
           sections. Probably more suited to serious strategy/simulation
           fans than casual players.

Tested on  A1200 GVP 1230-II (68030 50 MHz)

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