I'd recommend this game if it went on sale, but beyond that it's up to your discretion. If you're buying it for the trading get it, if you're buying it for the combat look elsewhere.
The trading simulation is very good, much better than PR1 or PR2. Auto trade routes are very easy to set up as well, and it's easy to become a millionare fairly quickly on normal. If that puts you off just select "my strategy" and see how that pans out. Having buildings that produce and need various goods adds another aspect to think about. It's a bit difficult to plan without a map listing the resources, but I'm sure they have one online somewhere. In any case, if you hit the middle mouse button over a town in the map view, it'll show you the resources that town produces.
The combat is... terrible. There's really no reason to do anything but auto battles anymore. I remember PR1, where you had massive battles (I think 10v10, it was a long time ago), and here you're stuck with a maximum of 3v3. As far as I can tell, you can't adjust the speed of your ships (or even tell how many knots they're going), and sometimes they randomly switch ammunition from what I selected. And trying to board a ship makes me want to pull out my hair. I had a set of 3 Liners with 250 men apiece lose 4/5 of their health and half the crew against a ship at a virtual standstill with 1 sailor and 3 hp left until they finally managed to board after I held down the spacebar for three minutes and my ships grinded against it for twenty seconds at a time until the boarding icon showed up. This happens nearly every time I attempt to board. And taking control and ramming the enemy ship myself never helps either. It's aggravating, to say the least.
I also remember the challenge and feeling of accomplishment when I annexed a town after expertly manouvering my ships to avoid cannon fire from shore. Now all that happens is you click a ship, click a spot. Click a ship, click a spot. Click a ship, click a spot. Wait for fortress to be destroyed. Repeat for other fortress. Click a spot for a land battle. No more picking formations for your sailors. The lack of challenge and variability is awful.
Other minor things:
The graphics are fairly nice and it's fun to be able to rotate the map, something the first game couldn't do. The "campaigns" were very similar to each other and even had some tutorials on how to do the same stuff. And a tiny gripe is that there weren't a ton of flags to pick from, maybe seven in different colors. Not very fun. It would be cool to have an option to make your own flag. I also think player mods would be great, maybe someone would fix the combat system. And a few achievements seem broken. I've captured several towns but none of the "Veni, Vidi, Vici" ones have popped, and it's impossible to get "Checkmate" as you aren't allowed to annex a town if there are only two left. Frustrating.
Posted: February 7th, 2014