Sid Meier has nothing to worry about. Even though Tortuga - Two Treasures is modeled after Meier's Pirates! remake from 2004, the game is a poor copy in every respect. Where Meier's take on the yo-ho-ho life was filled with open-ended adventures on the high seas, this Ascaron Entertainment production is burdened with dull, linear missions that take the wind right out of your Jolly Roger. Ship-to-ship combat is somewhat exciting due to some fresh options to set and trim sails, but everything else is tedious, poorly designed, or both.
Step right up if you're looking for a formulaic pirate adventure. You play Thomas "Hawk" Blythe, an 18th century buccaneer working to discover the legendary treasure hoard of Sir Henry Morgan (no relation to the guy from MASH, presumably) for the most infamous pirate of them all, Blackbeard. While you don't sport an eye patch or a parrot, you've got a mysterious amulet hanging around your neck and are outfitted with the Captain Jack Sparrow bandana, facial hair, and vaguely effeminate airs. Toss in an exotic voodoo priestess spouting spiritual mumbo jumbo, the enigmatic connection that Hawk has to a sultry English governor's daughter, and a few ghost ships and undead swashbucklers, and you can check off the rest of the items on the pirate cliché list. The only aspect of the story not ripped off from Pirates! and Pirates of the Caribbean is ripped off from Star Wars, as Hawk occasionally lapses into a Han Solo imitation so complete that he calls the governor's daughter princess a couple of times.
The plot here is only memorable because of its many problems. It begins during a sea battle without the slightest preamble or cutscene to let you know what's going on, and it then skips all around introducing characters, plot points, and events. You often feel like you're a step or two behind the storyline, as if the developers left out every third cutscene. Logic goes right out the window at times. At one point early on, Hawk takes a moment to warn voodoo-girl Sangua that she should be careful because the English know she's a pirate. However, just minutes later, Hawk is shocked to discover that the English are tailing Sangua out of the harbor, and he wonders if the redcoats have somehow learned her secret pirate identity. Even worse, all of the game's dialogue is delivered at a breakneck pace that is at first funny, and then annoying. While the quality of the script is actually fairly good if you can overlook the clichés, actors deliver their lines in a rush, but with a casual tone, so it sounds more like a rehearsal than a final take.
These tale tribulations make no difference to the gameplay, though, as Two Treasures is so predictable that you could set your watch by it. This is a straightforward action adventure, where you're always clicking bad guys to death in sword fights or circling enemy vessels at sea and laying into them with cannons. Role-playing elements and any ability to freely roam the Spanish Main are totally MIA, so you're stuck guiding Hawk from one mission to another. You're led by the hand to each objective by bobbing arrows, and mission goals are as derivative as the plot and characters. You escape from jail, set out to sink an enemy ship or three, kill a notorious scoundrel or three, and so on.
Scraps with land lubbers are clickfests, where you do the old "Have at thee!" routine and plunge into the fray with sword a-flashing. Sea battles are a bit more inventive, in that you can set or trim sails to change the speed and maneuverability of your ships, although engagements on the waves still turn into overly familiar circle-and-shoot affairs nearly identical to those on display in other recent piratical games like Pirates! and Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales. And any dose of reality added by sail rigging is immediately eliminated by the ability to sail over floating power-up chests that let you repair your hull and sails on the fly.
Balance issues can make battles on land and sea even more annoying. Fights are generally either way too easy or way too hard. You'll sail along, sometimes literally, from one clash to the next, slaughtering the likes of solo English redcoats, and then suddenly run into a press-gang of baddies that can carve you up in moments. This is a particular problem in land battles, as the game frequently switches speeds from "no problem" to "how the heck am I supposed to kill nine guys?" Fleeing just adds to your worries, as you only attract new enemies and seem to always automatically turn back to face enemies even when trying to get the heck out of Dodge. Running generally just gets you killed even faster than had you just stood your ground. You can somewhat deal with packs of goons by using the special punches, kicks, and other attacks that you learn as the game goes on, but you're still overwhelmed by numbers far too often.
A host of visual quirks also gets in the way of sailing and fighting. Even though the game looks pretty good when you're out on the seas, certain weather conditions reduce the water to almost featureless glass that tends to hide shallows and reefs, which do huge amounts of damage to vessel hulls. These obstacles also slow ships down, so already-damaged galleons can get stuck in these danger zones and then absorb so much damage that they soon sink. Towns and the decks of enemy ships boarded at the end of sea battles also look fairly respectable, but they are similarly hampered by camera angles that zip around too much during battles. This issue is somewhat mitigated by the ability to freely rotate the camera with the mouse, although angles are constantly messed up and reset during actions such as enemy attacks.
You need to really love your yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum to enjoy Tortuga - Two Treasures. This isn't a completely awful game, but you have to look high and low to find another one so derivative and passionless. Especially one about pirates.