Port Royal 3 is an improvement in mechanic for the Port Royal Series,
as there are improvements, there are always problem not far behind.
The combat in this version are greatly simplify and easy to handle, but the lack of number of ships in combat, compared to Port Royal 1, is quite disappointing,
while Port Royal 2 combat system to, fail impress me as well, due to the lack of ships in combat,
but Port Royal 3 on this respect did a better job.
The combat system of Port Royal 3 should be maintain, but with more ships as Port Royal 1, ground combat for Port Royal 3 is way to simplify as well, but do get frustrating because there's a limit of combat ship to deploy ground troops, meaning you tend to have more then 1 - 3 fleet, to get 1 simple raiding job done.
Trading is also simplify and become easily manageable, I do prefer this but, it causes the game to be too much of hand holding because of this.
In simple term do I recommend this game? Yes for first timer, hardcore fans might be disappointed, you better off play the old version.
is it a good merchant/ micromanaging game of the pirate era?/ is it a good RTS like element in the global map combat system it offer?
Yes to both, it's worth a try, especially if it's on a discount.
it's not a great game by any stretch, it's average at best for me,
but the game keep pulling me back sometimes,
(especially the first version, still hoping for it to be on steam).
In the fun side of conclusion...
Buy it for the money and ship hoarding hoarding man! You get to see actually cannon animation on each cannon shooting and destroying the ship mask and sailor on it, compared to other RTS game considering a ship only have 1 total overall HP.