Generally favorable reviews - based on 50 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 50
  2. Negative: 0 out of 50
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  1. An evocative gem of a game, one all Long John Silver or Johnny Depp wannabes should thoroughly enjoy.
  2. 100
    This is a fantastic update to a truly classic game. It’s just plain great on every level. If you don’t like Pirates! you must be allergic to fun.
  3. Computer Games Magazine
    Simple and deep gameplay that sucks away hours of your life. [March 2005, p.74]
  4. It is wonderful in all aspects. I loved it.
  5. We can't recall another PC game that challenged us to furious one-on-one sword fights and strategic warfare with cannons blazing -- interspersed with a test of ballroom dancing skills in which each click of our keyboard's keys translated into a deft move on the dance floor.
  6. A completely engrossing ride on the Spanish Main. All that’s missing is the smell of rum and powder.
  7. An exciting gaming experience, its versatility makes it accessible to a variety of gamers, and it possesses dynamic game play that eliminates the monotony plaguing so many single-player games.
  8. It’s truly one of the most addictive games we’ve played this year, and teaches the mildly boring Port Royale 2 a thing or two about how such sims should be done.
  9. While you do many of the same things over and over again, Firaxis has made it fun. Really fun. "Just a few minutes more"-until-three-in-the-morning fun.
  10. Voices have been done in grumbling Sim’s style that really adds to the charm of the game.
  11. Pelit (Finland)
    Sid Meier's Pirates! is as magically playable as its forefather was in the ancient times. [Jan. 05]
  12. An amazing, wonderfully lighthearted game that boasts an intoxicating blend of strategy and action, and as such it's a dire threat to your professional and personal productivity...Quite simply one of the most enjoyable games to come out in years.
  13. One of those rare games that can engage you for hours each day while never getting old.
  14. 92
    Pirates! is unlike any other game in the current PC catalog. Unless you hate fun, you'll love it.
  15. PC Gamer
    Combat is extremely fun and very easy to control - you can play the entire game using just your keyboard's Numpad. [Feb 2005, p.46]
  16. 91
    The game truly stays faithful to the original Pirates! except with extended difficulty settings, added gameplay depth and fancy graphics.
  17. "Port Royale" was the closest that anyone has come to the original Pirates, until now. All hail Sid Meier, the master of the computer game.
  18. Sid Meier and his crew have managed to update one of the major classics of gaming so that it is now a worthy example of the fact that good gameplay never goes out of fashion.
  19. Computer Gaming World
    The simplicity of the gameplay and charm of the presentation are happy reminders of a more innocent age when games were just fun for kids rather than targets of congressional hearings. [Feb 2005, p.86]
  20. An absolutely fabulous game that is nothing but fun from start to finish. And as an extra bonus it is family friendly. No blood, not wound and no death.
  21. It's funny, there really isn't anything absolutely revolutionary or remarkable about the game, but you'll find yourself playing it for hours on end.
  22. 90
    Each gameplay aspect has its own place, joyously gelling together to create a diverse but pleasant experience.
  23. 90
    It's got a simplicity and elegance that you just don't see in PC games anymore: It's pure gameplay, fun from the opening credits onward. As a player you'll be constantly engaged.
  24. There are some drawbacks to portions of the sound and the swordplay segments can be a little redundant, but this game does have diversity and entertaining elements that draw one past the minor stumbles.
  25. A blend of the very best that simulation games have to offer, with all of the raucous entertainment of a good pirate film.
  26. Its huge open-endedness does an excellent job of establishing the proper atmosphere while the balance of combat and economy produces a quality strategy title. It does, however, have its problems. Open-ended gameplay can lead to a lack of focus, and this game is very light on tutorial, how-to material which creates a somewhat larger than average learning curve; preventing me from recommending Pirate's to all gamers as a whole.
  27. This game gets high marks for the attention to detail in each scene, and the authentic feel of doing battle with other ships at sea.
  28. With so much to do and the ability to do it at your own pace, Pirates! is the rare game that can entertain almost everyone.
  29. Like its predecessor, Sid Meier's game effortlessly takes the best of every style of gaming and mixes it into a consistent and enduringly charming whole. Certainly there are games with more strategy, and others with more action, but few, if any, can claim to be as breathlessly easy to enjoy. [PC Zone]
  30. The trading, the pirating, the sailing, the dancing, the political ramifications of targeting one nation's gubernatorial and military traffic to the advantage of another... it all swims in the shallows. But as shallows go they're as clear and blue as babies' eyes. [PC Gamer UK]
  31. The only thing stopping Pirates! from becoming one of 2005's best is the lack of variation in the gameplay - it is an immensely enjoyable game at first not to mention very unique, and there are plenty of mini games included, but soon enough repetition sets in with these mini games and it sets in rather hard.
  32. It's that kind of freedom and pressure-free atmosphere that makes Pirates! as good as it is. Now, if only it would be so nice as to make dancing less important in courtship - or at least less difficult - we'd have a completely enjoyable game.
  33. 85
    It's varied, addictive, and replayable, with a big difference between the experiences available at lower and higher levels of difficulty.
  34. Game Informer
    It's the way everything fits together that's so much fun... The simple nature of this game masks a surprisingly deep and engaging experience. [Jan 2005, p.136]
  35. The remake of the original 'Pirates!' certainly captures the free-flowing feel and the addictive nature of the original game. Man, hours do go by quickly when you're playing this one. In many ways, this IS the original game.
  36. 83
    It's also bountifully endowed with that certain something that Meir sprinkles into his games that makes them so hard to stop playing.
  37. What we are left with is a remake of one of the greatest games of all time, which in and of itself is an accomplishment worthy of praise. It's just as addictive as ever.
  38. A little like a tavern wench you met in Trinidad - certainly pretty, very broad, but ultimately a tiny bit shallow. [Jan 2005, p.88]
  39. A game where analytically I keep thinking I shouldn’t like it all that much, but then I play it and get absorbed, and I look up and see it’s 4am already. So Pirates! is a fun game to play, but it’s a little bit shallow and repetitive.
  40. 80
    Won't appeal to everyone, but if you're nostalgic for the original or like unstructured and open-ended games, this booty is well worth seeking. Yarrr!
  41. There's really only one word to describe Sid Meier's Pirates! and that's 'charming'. The excellent presentation, clever gameplay design and exquisite pacing mark it out as a unique and well thought out game. It's full of confidence and style, eager to impress and even if it won't keep you playing for months on end, is bound to provide an enjoyable experience while it lasts.
  42. AceGamez
    The controls are so easy to grasp that you'll rarely find any need to look in the manual for anything other than general hints; this is a game you can really jump into and get on with right away, with none of the hassle of dull stat screens with useless information bothering you.
  43. games(TM)
    Pirates! Is a challenging and rewarding open-ended adventure... what better than a game that let’s you write your own pirate-filled legacy. [Jan 2005, p.118]
  44. A remake of a much-loved 1987 relic, Pirates is incredibly charming. Its simplicity belies the game's surprising depth and addictiveness.
  45. Bursting at the seams with variety.
    These bugs, alongside the simplistic taverns, swordfights, trading arrangements, one-screen locations and Benny Hill-style beach skirmishes, make Pirates! feel like Treasure Island in a Pirates of the Caribbean world.
  47. As a confectionery item, Sid Meiers Pirates lasts about as long as a packet of Cadbury buttons or an Easter egg in the hands of a 10 year old. Like too much chocolate, you might get sick of it after a while, but you’ll come back to it sooner or later.
  48. A very simple game, but it is also very entertaining. It is easy to whittle away hours chasing galleons, seeking buried treasure or raiding ports. Meier seems to have a way with making games that are hard to stop playing.
  49. While the repetitive nature of the sub-games is what really keeps this away from true greatness, what leads to an increasing sense of the game being a chore is something as simple and ethereal as a wind.
  50. Edge Magazine
    Elements such as marching onto an island, or talking to a governor, seem flat and underdeveloped. Islands are sparse and awkward experiences, while their governors are often illogical and nonsensical in their responses. [Jan 2005, p.88]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 265 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 265
  1. S-P
    Oct 1, 2012
    Having just finished my umpteenth playthrough, I figure it's a good time to write a short review about this underrated gem.

    I've been a
    Having just finished my umpteenth playthrough, I figure it's a good time to write a short review about this underrated gem.

    I've been a gamer for over 20 years. A relatively passionate one, and not one to generally like strategic games as much as the more action-y titles. The first time I was introduced to Sid Meier's Pirates was with this 2004 remake, in 2004/2005. Played through it, loved it, and sort of forgot about it. Since then, though, I've felt the urge to play it again and again. Sometimes it's after a year, sometimes a year and a half. But it always happens. That is a rare quality in a game, as most titles you beat once and forget about afterwards.

    It rarely happens with any game, and almost never with games that are this flawed. Pirates is repetitive, relatively shallow for a strategic game, and because it's rated E, it can be obnoxiously childish in tone as well. Plus some of the minigames are just downright tedious, the worst offender being ballroom dancing, that can luckily be skipped with a trainer.

    But none of the flaws overshadow the fact that Sid Meier's Pirates is FUN. Bringing criminals to justice, forcing that one unfortunate nation off the face of earth (for me it's usually Spain or France), plundering ships and towns, creating the strongest pirate army the world has ever seen, and retiring a legend.. With a bit of imagination, your journey truly becomes legendary -- if not for anyone else, then at least for you. And that's what counts. You start playing, and suddenly, nine hours have passed, and you have to fight against speaking in a pirate "slang" if you manage to somehow exit the game and actually venture outside your apartment for long enough to actually meet real humans. Actual humans, who never seem to have appreciation the struggles us pirates go through during the days after the game again draws you back for a new playthrough.

    And it will, faults and all. For me, Sid Meier's Pirates wasn't all THAT special when I first played it. But during the years, it's slowly brought itself up from behind, and joined the five games that I can honestly say I've loved during the 20-some years I've been around video games. A feat that almost rivals my latest career as a pirate, having retired as a 36 year old Governor of Campeche, with 180640 gold pieces, 37650 acres of land and a beautiful wife.

    I did everything that can be done in the game.. Except I only found eight hidden treasures. Which is undoubtedly something I will have to surpass on my next playthrough, in a year or so.
    Full Review »
  2. Dec 27, 2010
    I have been playing this game on and off for about five years now, and it I still love it. It's probably the second greatest RPG ever made.I have been playing this game on and off for about five years now, and it I still love it. It's probably the second greatest RPG ever made. The story is pretty dumb, and the graphics aren't THAT great (but decent) and the sounds are fairly low quality at some points, but the sheer fun and addiction of the gameplay surpasses all of that. The main problem with the game however, is that is never really fresh. Once you have completed about three different quests or so, you've completed every quest in the game since every quest is practically the exact same thing. Full Review »
  3. Kopschmigger
    Oct 22, 2008
    Its a good game .. but it gets REALLY REPETITIVE after some time ! the story line is just about doing the same thing over and over again Its a good game .. but it gets REALLY REPETITIVE after some time ! the story line is just about doing the same thing over and over again until you get all the parts.... I liked it in the beginning. Please don't rate this game if you havent playied for more than 3 days or so ( it gets repetitive before that .. but whatever ). Totally overrated Full Review »