I’m reading a book on Simón Bolívar at the moment – his addition to Civilization VI caught my attention, and while I’m reading it slowly as I’ve got a million other things to do, I am finding it fascinating. It’s fascinating because while we all know vaguely that the colonial powers of Spain, France, England and the Netherlands were not exactly benign influences in the Caribbean and what is today north South America, Central America and south USA, the depths of what went on isn’t something that we generally think about. Or at least that’s the case here in Australia. I’m a fairly well-read guy, and I didn’t even know of Bolívar’s existence until Civilization, for example. The histories of the Americas are a blind spot to me precisely because it’s not a topic that’s broached in our common discourse or education system.
Anyway. The reason I bring it up is that Bolívar’s story, the stories of what happened to the people of those colonies and islands, and what inspired him to rise up to become a Napoleon-like figure, are all very powerful stories about the horrid impact of colonialism, all so some European powers could exploit some of the abundant resources. It is not something that Port Royale 4 offers anything more than the most passing of nods to. Now, I really like Port Royale. It’s been a long drink since the last one, but I spent many, many hours playing Port Royale 3 on PlayStation 3 and have been looking forward to this new one for quite some time. The developers have done a great job of capturing all the drama and exotic excitement of the Caribbean oceans and start-up townships of the time. You get to fight pirates (or become a privateer, engaging in piracy for king and country). You need to carefully monitor your relationships with each of the four colonial powers. You get to set up shipping routes for all the good stuff – sugar, tobacco, coffee (especially coffee) – and reap massive profits from being good at the basic principle of “buy low, sell high.”
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb
The critic was provided with a copy of this game for review.