I got this on sale with all 3 DLC expansion packs for 10.19 during the Black Friday sale. I'm an avid fan of the Port Royale series, and loved Port Royale 2. I was nervous getting this will all the mixed reviews, so it took me well over a year to finally go through with it.
Overall, I thought it was pretty good. For anyone wanting a comparison of this to Port Royale 2, they are very similar in most aspects, with some differences good and bad. First off, trading in port looks very different. There's a slider to select the amount, as well as green and red bars to tell you how over or understocked (and priced) a particular item is. A lot of people hate this new layout, but it's really not that bad if you can get used to it. The town palace now holds both a town administrator and sometimes a governor to hand out distinct missions. This is a bit unbalanced, especially once you advance in rank, as bringing lets say 67 crates of tobacco can get you a hundred thousand dollar bonus. One thing I HATED was the nation's reputation system. It drops way too quickly on it's own, that unless you're constantly doing missions you're going to be stuck at 25. Also, when two nations form an alliance, your reputation between them gets averaged. This is the most frustrating thing when you're trying to take over a town economically and suddenly your 100% reputation gets dropped down to sixty because your mother nation decides to form a treaty. Fortunately, this also means that nations that hate you get bored pretty quick. Still, they can pack quite a nasty punch if you're not prepared. War is also completely different, but in a way I enjoy. Each convoy uses 3 armed ships each battle, and you control all 3. It's a bit tougher to fight and board enemy ships, but now you can't make a fortune capturing and selling Ship of the Lines. There's a really dumbed down system for attacking in the harbors. Most nations will first have anywhere between 3 and 10 military convoys you have to fight through to make it to the harbor, instead of the max of 1 in the previous game. And thank goodness they got rid of those annoying harbor cannons that would completely obliterate your fleet one ship at a time. Instead, you send in your three ships that park, bomb the heck out of a fort, and then unload your soldiers for a land battle. Pirates have no fort, just a gazillion soldiers. Luckily, they are a lot easier to take down this way later on, if not more difficult in the early stages. The last part I really like is that you can take over pre-existing towns forming your own nation (Long live the free people of America!). This can be done either economically (own 75% of a prosperous town, and then go whine to the Viceroy and he'll probably just give it to you). Or you can attack the town and annex it for yourself! If the nation you attacked liked you enough before, they'll let you keep it. Also, there is no more waiting til a nation is weak enough to annex a town.
The only DLCs that seem to do much is Harbor Master. None of the campaigns seem to amount to much compared to the sandbox game. Still, the new buildings are very effective in preventing droughts, outbreaks, pirate attacks, etc. Ship building is pretty cool, if not expensive and time consuming. Still, it's better than having to travel port to port searching for that particular ship you want.
Overall I recommend giving this game a shot. Not sure if it's all worth $30, but if you get it during a good sale I say go for it!
Posted: November 29, 2013