“More control and space to play make Tropico 6 a great step-up from previous titles…”
Tropico 6 is the latest title in the iconic Kalypso Media island-builder-come-political-simulator franchise. El Presidente’s conquest from my office to my living room sofa is once again complete; only this time he has is eyes set on… the world!
Tropico 6 builds upon the classic Tropico tropes of pseudo-Communist development, international “relations” and micromanagement of a thriving, often legally ambiguous economy. The careful balance of power vs pleasing the people of your island empire is your primary objective, however El Presidente’s sights are fixed on a bigger picture now. It turns out that what the tiny nation of Tropico has been missing all along is simple – wonders. The wonders of the world, to be exact. Tropico simply MUST have them; and that is the basis of this game’s varied and exciting stories.
In case that opener didn’t make it obvious, Tropico 6 is big. The game maps are the biggest in the game’s history, spanning over multiple islands and giving you the room to build Tropico your way. Well, using other people’s wonders (graciously commandeered by your trust pirates, of course), but that still counts as your way, right? More room to breath brings new challenges to the game, too; most of all, transportation. The logistics of people and resources have previously been dependent simply on roads in Tropico, but the challenge of multiple islands and greater distances from A-to-B have let to the necessary addition of new public transport systems, along with teamster ports to move your goods. This adds an exciting new element to the island management side of Tropico, and brings the added benefit of an improved supply chain model to the game. Whilst these elements do not go so far as to take the forefront of proceedings, they have become a critical background focus.
The political systems of Tropico 6 have been developed to bring more realism, but most importantly more player control, over the political-side of the game. Improved election speeches allow you to fine tune your foci ahead of an election; swaying voter approval in the direction of your choosing. You must be ready to follow up on your promises, though; you aren’t some Western politician after all! Naturally, the previously-introduced Almanac and map-overlays are still present for all your data-based electorate queries. The people are no easier to please than before, but at least you have a firmer picture of why they are unhappy. Additionally, a broader range of options in your political constitution allow you to play the game the way you want to. If the conflict elements have not been your jam in the past, for example, you can sway the management of your island towards peaceful prosperity through trade and political means.
All of this space, these options and your shiny new wonders from foreign lands are all supporting characters in one of the best stories in the Tropico series to date. Taking a more episodic and thematic approach than in the series’ past, Tropico 6 seeks to tell the stories of El Presidente and Penultimo’s many triumphs through history. From chocolate trade to smuggling gold past the Brits’ in coconuts, there is great variety and a wealth of Tropico’s classically-cringey humour to go with it. Every mission is challenging and supports several methods of completion, but time, patience, risk and micro-management will always see you through. If the latter is not for you though, you may find that hopping off the bus at Tropico 5 was more up your street. The various additions to the game, as enticing as they are for a long-term fan, do mean more to think about, and stay on top of, for the unsuspecting newcomer.
The content of the console port of Tropico 6 is seemingly identical to the PC version of the game. The biggest challenge though, as ever, is transitioning from point-and-click to a controller-based control system. At first, the radial menus galore approach of Tropico 6 is hard to get your head around and navigate. After the first hour or so, however, I found the controls surprisingly natural for a top-down strategy-style title. In fact, compared to similar genre titles, Tropico 6 turned out to have one of the more intuitive control systems I have come across. Perseverance is needed at the outset, but the results of pushing through are a smooth and relatively natural experience.
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8 / 10
Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems, Linux, SteamOS