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Indie Spotlight: AirBuccaneers Review

Posted on the 13 December 2012 by Findthebluekey @FindTheBlueKey
Indie Spotlight: AirBuccaneers ReviewEver dreamt of taking control of an ancient he pilots his cannon-laden airship to do battle with a horde of similarly equipped woodland buccaneers? Well first off that's an oddly specific dream you've got there, but secondly, you're in luck! LudoCraft is here with their offering AirBuccaneers, allowing you to pilot medieval war balloons to your hearts content. A recent graduate from the Steam Greenlight system, AirBuccaneers has the vote of the people, and is available on Steam for $15.
Overall, I found AirBuccaneers to be  refreshingly unique, with an interesting premise and enjoyable mechanics that make it almost compulsively playable.
AirBuccaneers allows you to take the side of either the woodland Buccaneers or the barbarian Vikings as they engage for dominance of the skies. The gameplay takes the form of large multiplayer battles, with each side taking control of a variety of airships as they aim for the simple goal of blowing each other out of the sky. Not a bad setup for a game at all.
Indie Spotlight: AirBuccaneers ReviewJumping into a battle, you will quickly find yourself on one of the airships controlled by your side. Here you will either take the helm to control your ship, manning one of the cannons or taking a support role. Should you find yourself in a support role, fear not! There is still more than enough to keep you occupied. Repairing your vessel, supporting the cannoneers, blocking incoming shots and repelling boarders will keep you on your toes. Additionally, you will gain experience -and as such rank- as you progress through the game. This introduces some aesthetic differences, as well as being able to take control of the helm from lower-ranking players. Though this is initially frustrating as finding a turn on the helm in the early stages is difficult, it ensures that veterans are never too frustrated with a new pilot.
AirBuccaneers is one of the few games I can think of that not only encourages, but actively demands cooperation between team-mates. You quickly learn to follow the orders of your captain, repair the ship when needed, support the cannons and get off the helm if you're flying is sub-par that day. Crews that don't work together will soon find themselves descending from the sky...rapidly. Furthermore, one can't simply grab the helm and fly into the fray guns-blazing. With no one to fire your cannons or repair your ship, a captain alone will not be a captain for long. No lone rangers in AirBuccaneers.
Mechanically, the game works well and as expected, even if there is a few issues here and there. The grappling mechanics for boarding enemy craft seem to only work when they feel like it, and repelling a boarding enemy can be equally as difficult. But none of this is a deal breaker, being all easily accepted during the game.
Indie Spotlight: AirBuccaneers ReviewAirBuccaneers takes the tradition of easy to learn, difficult to master and shakes it up somewhat(perhaps not intentionally). Instead, we find a game that is difficult to learn, easy to become proficient but difficult to master. With the lack of any tutorial, sorting your way through all the mechanics at the beginning can be difficult. Many of them work fairly intuitively, but others will only come from watching friendly players at work. Once you begin to pick it up, however, it's relatively easy to become a contributing member of your crew.
As an experience, AirBuccaneers truly shines. There are few things in gaming that seem more satisfying than successfully working together with your crew to overcome the enemy. Successfully steering my ship through enemies, watching as my crew members took down ship after ship has been one of my most recent 'high' moments in gaming. The experience feels organic, and constantly shifting from game to game. That is what keeps you going back and playing, just to see what is going to happen this time.
Overall, I found AirBuccaneers to be a welcome change of pace. A superbly unique multiplayer experience, and while it might not be for everyone, those that do enjoy it may find themselves well and truly hooked. It's nice to see a multiplayer game that prides teamwork, rather than individual prowess. Give it the chance it deserves, and let it grow on you. You'll be glad you did.


Indie Spotlight: AirBuccaneers Review
Title: AirBuccaneers
Developer: LudoCraft
Genre: Mutliplayer Action/Strategy
Cost: $15(Steam)
You can see my thoughts on review scores here.

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