Crimson: Steam Pirates by Bungie Aerospace Corporation icon

Crimson: Steam Pirates (Free) by Bungie Aerospace Corporation is an excellent first entry into the realm of games for iOS by the makers of the popular “Halo” series for the Mac and PC.

The app brings heaps of swashbuckling adventure to the App Store, making it fun to pretend to be a pirate on the high seas.

Crimson: Steam Pirates by Bungie Aerospace Corporation screenshot

The gameplay of Crimson: Steam Pirates lies somewhere between a glorified board game (like Battleship on steroids) and a tactical RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics. The game has players parading around the Caribbean under the guise of Thomas Blood, a pirate extraordinaire with a flair for humor.

Users direct their ships in a turn-based style by dragging out directional paths, specifying which power-ups to use, and pointing out enemies to assault. Crimson: Steam Pirates supports all kinds of pirate maneuvers, including boarding (and capturing) enemy ships, going into turbo mode with “full steam” enabled, and broadsiding enemy vessels for maximum impact.

Crimson: Steam Pirates doesn’t just stick to the ocean surface, though: The app also comes with a myriad of aircraft, and even submarines. When a ship is boarded, there’s also a Civilization-esque combat scenario in which individual crew members square off against enemy combatants. With over 20 unique units available, the combat experience alone could stand as a separate game.

Crimson: Steam Pirates also comes with a stellar sense of humor. Players can follow the haphazard exploits of Captain Blood as he sails around the seven seas in pursuit of women, treasure, and the occasional French dress.

Crimson: Steam Pirates by Bungie Aerospace Corporation screenshot

Crimson: Steam Pirates offers a solid gaming experience for the iPad, and lives up to the hype garnered by such a major developer.

This is certainly no “Halo” rip-off, nor is it even in the same league as the desktop classic. Rather, the app creates an entirely new experience for the iPad that’s just as riveting and, depending on your point of view, much easier on the eyes.

The game’s steampunk aesthetic is gorgeous, and almost as enjoyable as the writing’s snarky attitude. The gameplay itself is engaging, and fresh enough to keep the attention focused on the story. Crimson: Steam Pirates just offers a rewarding strategic experience.

Best of all, the app is completely free in the App Store. If players wish to unlock Crimson: Steam Pirates’ full potential, they’ll need to cough up $1.99 for the continuing chapters of Captain Blood’s tale. However, the price is hardly bank-breaking, and the game is worth every penny spent.