It's a good thing too, because developer Certain Affinity has a good thing going with Age of Booty that is difficult to explain; however, after trying it, it'll be hard to put it down. We can't wait to see if playing 8 player games online in teams (or solo) is a casually intense experience or just a frustrating clusterfrack.
As explained in our previous hands-on, the game is about collecting items by sailing over them with a pirate ship on a hexagonal board, upgrading the ship with the items received, taking over strategic points to upgrade the ship and maintaining a certain number of nodes to win the game. The game can be set up on many pre-installed map variations as a free-for-all or team match.
The other interesting thing is that there won't be ranked matches. Usually we frown on this because it means that there isn't a "set" mode for an even playing field online. Capcom tells us that they want users to play this game with friends they actually enjoy playing with and that if they go into the Wild West of random matchmaking, that the host has the ability to boot any offending players.
We also asked about lag, a significant issue with even some of the most basic XBLA games. Capcom tells us that the developers at Certain Affinity were some of the same folks behind Halo 3's multiplayer. We've been assured that online lag will not be an issue when the game ships.
Our time with Age of Booty was very enjoyable and we really wanted to have more time and invite some friends to play. There appears to be a lot of depth in something that is being touted as a "casual" title. This game could be a treasure worth spending your hard-earned booty on when it ships this fall. We'll let you know what date to mark with an X when we hear of a release date.