“You are going to have fun playing this game!”
Ever feel like you should be above the “little men” of the world? Do you have a flare for control? Are you open to the ideals of corruption and personal-gain above the needs of the many? Can you write a constitution which shapes the land to your desires? Can you build a thriving empire out of a small island, which can meet your every need? If you feel that you can answer yes to all of the above, then Tropico is the workplace for you. If interested, please apply within!
By now, Tropico has already become a well-established franchise. A cross between strategy, simulation and city building, Tropico allows you to take on the role of a corrupt dictator. Your aims? To fulfil your needs of greed and power by manipulating the land set out before you and the blind citizenry which fall at your knees and worship you as a god. It sounds like an easy life, but Tropico will test your ability to manipulate to the max, forcing you to make tough decisions, not one of which is honest. If you are going to be a corrupt dictator, you have to know how to do it right. Get it wrong, and you may find that you become more dick than dictator in the eyes of your people. Get it right, and you will be living the good life, straight out of your secret Swiss bank account, while the people live in slums and squalor.
Tropico is by no means a realistic simulation of a dictatorship of the kind you may experience in the media. That is not to say that it does not take every element of this, play fun on it, and wrap it up into a nice package to convert the horrors of the real world into an almost disturbingly entertaining gaming experience. But fun is what it is all about, and there is certainly plenty to be had! From designing your very own dictator complete with spacesuit and cowboy hat to building 40 taverns on one small island in order to gain the drunken yet delightfully happy vote of your people; you are certainly going to have a laugh playing this game!
You control every aspect of your island in Tropico; from political decisions, to what to build there, to who to employ in each little building. You have full control over everything here, and that is great to see from a strategy/simulation title. What makes it better is that it is not uncomfortably overwhelming or impossibly complicated to keep all of this in check, and after the 45 minutes or so of tutorial which you can choose to follow, you can be happy in the knowledge that you actually do know what you are doing. Getting the balance right is not difficult, and neither is learning the skills. Tropico carefully balances the aspects of fun and challenge, with both always being present and the game staying consistently interesting to play and exciting to spend time with as a result. It is nothing less than addictive, and you may be surprised at just how much time you accidentally spend being a respected albeit feared leader at the comfort of your generally mundane desk.
This being the fifth instalment in its series, a number of positive aspects have been carried through from its predecessors. One for example is the fact that you do not have to wait around in this game, and neither does time get ahead of you. You have the power to both pause and speed up play; a feature which simple may seem but is nonetheless very useful to have at your disposal, and one which further adds to the comfort of play by allowing you to do so at your own pace. The look of much of the game is similar too, with stereotypical-looking structures and people on your island just adding to the fun factor of what being a slightly-evil dictator can be. Not all of the features carried through might be seen as positive however. One obvious piece of constructive criticism which leaps to mind is of the textual elements in the game. These are not unclear or overwhelming or confusing, but what is complicated about them is that you never know quite how much of the text the in game voices are going to narrate for you. Sometimes it is all of it, sometimes it is a paragraph, sometimes it is a line. Some consistency here at least would have been a nice, polishing touch.
In terms of the look of the game, mixed results might be a fair summary. There is some wonderful art in loading screens, and on high detail settings the game looks great. But those fans of Tropico who will be running the game on a lower spec to the powerhouses among you will find a slightly unpleasant looking game to get on with. Even on medium settings, some of the graphics look disturbingly poor. At medium level for example, water looks fantastic, however trees look a little more blurry than they maybe should at what might be considered the average graphics level for a 2014 game. To fully appreciate what Tropico 5 is putting out there for you, a higher spec computer is going to be needed. If you have this however, you will not be at all disappointed; this is by far the nicest looking Tropico yet if you have the correct tools to experience it.
Tropico 5 is yet another strong addition to its franchise, and a game which does it great credit. Indeed, the Tropico series is yet to have revealed an inherently weak link. This may be mostly down to a consistent style, but enough is certainly different in Tropico 5 to merit its place as the next step on the series’ ladder. For example, there is not an era-based system in the game which allows you to experience the task of dictatorship in a series of different ways as it has varied over time in the real world. From a colonial beginning, through the world wars and towards the 21st century, different challenges await you in every period, and this keeps the game fresh as you play.
Research, trade and exploration now play a major role too, each of which are crucial to the success of your empi… island! Research is crucial to your movement through the eras, and while you must reach certain points in time to research certain things, the system does not feel limiting, giving you plenty to do in one age so that you don’t run out and have to wait until the next. Trade is key to your Tropican economy, and evolves with the ages too. To begin with, you will trade with the crown as a colony of the British Empire. As you move one through the eras, other trade routes will become available to you so that you can sell your hard-earned native produce… or the produce the people will spend a hard time earning for you anyway! Exploration is the key to utilising your island’s resources to their full extent. Discover what lies beneath the cloud cover and you may be able to use it to your advantage. This feature is delightfully easy and yet adds a little something that might otherwise have been missing. Casual exploration is something that works for Tropico over the gruelling effort which some strategy titles require of you. And who knows, you may even find an ancient ruin which you can manipulate into a tourist resort, who knows! Tropico 5 certainly seems to take a very “you’ve done that, now try doing this!” reflective stance on the series, rather than completely overwriting or reworking a system which is already proven to work.
Tropico 5 expands on its already successful series with some vigour then, taking the best of before and adding even more to spice things up a bit and create a traditional and yet original Tropico experience. The game has fun, it has challenge, it has variety; it has everything a game of this type really needs, and it is good! It does have its hitches of course, as any game will. The graphical side of things is about as exclusive as the society which you will likely be operating on your island, with only the top level settings really doing the game justice. There are also some minor inconsistencies in the textual elements of the game, but they are certainly not enough to inherently break it or essentially bring it down. Overall, Tropico 5 is exactly the experience that fans will be hoping for, and is almost certainly the best time for new players to jump into the series. You are going to have fun playing this game!
The Good – A strategy/simulation which truly gives you full control and in a easy, friendly manner. Variety is better than ever for Tropico, and the challenges set before you easily keep you interested. Best of all, it is all great fun, and keeps the Tropico experience simultaneously traditional and fresh. Be warned though; addiction may ensue!
The Bad – The look of the game is shaky unless you have the performance capabilities to appreciate the beauty at the top end of its settings. Some minor inconsistencies in the textual narration elements of the game can be slightly irritating and confusing.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.