Depending on your experiences with Pirates' console-based bigger brother, this mobile spin off's distillation of much of Assassin's Creed 4 into a purely ship-based experience will either sell it to you in a heartbeat, or have you running for the hills. At £2.99, however, it might slightly price itself out of the idle curiosity market.
Told through non-animated, comic book-style panels, the writing is mediocre at best, only there to set up the hero's story as a newly appointed captain with grand designs on the pirating world. Not that it really matters: soon you'll be focused on the game itself. Many mechanics are borrowed from numerous different games, meaning that you'll be sailing the high seas like in Ass Creed 4 one moment, but afterwards be playing a top-down pirate version of iOS classic Flight Control.
'Assassin' missions are present, although they don't take the same form as in other Creed games. Here, players use the map to draw a safe, unobstructed line to your objective, before having to take down an enemy ship. The battles are highly repetitive, but enjoyable: only requiring you to hold your finger on the device to aim at your opponent, or sometimes using the swivel gun to target a weak point. This is turn-based combat, to a degree, and when you are under attack you have to dodge and wait for your meters to refill so you can return fire.
It's fun, but never really challenges the player and leveling up feels accidental, though you're forced to do it as it doles out more powerful vessels, perks and general upgrades that you can't access otherwise. Frustratingly, to continue through the story to new locations, you'll have to hit certain levels, unattainable even after clearing an area out entirely, meaning it's back to the grind.
It's a pity that such a fun, arcade adventure requires grinding so early on, because it serves no other purpose than to hinder progress. Pirates is an enjoyable jaunt played in short bursts, but one that promises a little more than it actually delivers.
Version Tested: iOS (iPad 3). Played for 4 hours.