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Sea Dogs II

Preview By: 2nd Opp

Developer:   Akella / Bethesda
Publisher:   Bethesda 
Genre:   RPG
Est. Release:   March 2003
Date Posted:  

2-19-03

Any of you who have played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind know that it is one of the very few hardcore console RPG's available. Morrowind took us on an epic adventure with beautiful graphics and solid gameplay and claimed RPG of the year in many end of the year lists. In fact there still is no real contender to stand up to Bethesda's masterpiece on Xbox. Now with the new year well under way, it looks like Bethesda will once again claim Xbox RPG of the year honors in 2003 by publishing Akella's Sea Dogs II. Sea Dogs II looks to be just as epic as Morrowind, but tailored to the life of a pirate.

You set out in Sea Dogs II as one of two characters, Blaze Devlin (male), or Danielle Greene (female), each with their own perspective on the storyline. Both adventures revolve around searching for their native country's treasures, but they are also cutthroats for hire, accepting various jobs in the ports of seaside towns. These jobs range from protecting merchant ships and finding treasure, to bombarding forts with cannon fire and smuggling goods to shady beach shores. Even if you manage to finish the main story and all the side quests, your adventure doesn't end there. Akella is including a detailed "random quest" generator that gives you a mission based off of your experiences, and the areas you've leveled your character.

Deciding where to put those skill points will be very important, as the game has two distinct areas of play. Land: where you buy and sell equipment, talk to and recruit people, find treasure, explore beaches and caves, and sword fight with the scum of the coast, and Sea: where you must captain your ship by steering and raising the sail, keep supplies rationed while sailing from island to island, battle other ships (and forts) with cannon fire, and board them to steal their possessions. As your reputation grows, you will be able to recruit party members to man your ship, and to protect your back in sword fights. You can even get NPCs to join you with their ship and crew to help in the large naval battles.

Keeping your men happy will also be one of your duties in this game, because they grow and gain experience right with you. If you leave a port without supplies, some may die, and if they don't believe in their captain, they won't fight as strong in fierce battles. In fact if you begin to lead a lifestyle that they don't agree with, some may just leave you and your crew. Enemy ships will constantly size up you and your shipmates. If you are weak and disorganized, they will take advantage and bombard your ship. If they see a strong team that has been trained in battle, they just may raise a white flag and surrender their goods to you.

Right now, Sea Dogs II looks beautiful, as it has somewhat of a Morrowind feel to it, but unlike Morrowind which was mainly a PC port, Akella is giving Sea Dogs the full Xbox treatment and promises the best water effects to date. With large galleons sailing into sunsets, and small merchant ships being tossed by 30ft swells, there will be plenty of eye candy for us to enjoy. The islands you visit will also offer quite a bit of variation in visuals, from jungles, coastlines, port towns, small villages, caves, all the way to huge castle forts.

Akella seems to know exactly what they are doing with this game and we were lucky enough to have Bethesda pick it up for publishing on Xbox. I'm sure there are many RPG gamers waiting for this game to hit the shelves this March so they can start their own pirate lives, and we're among them. Until them Morrowind will have to hold us over just a little longer.

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