Tropico 5 review | PCGamesN

World of Warcraft character transfers and changes discounted by 25%

Past Team Fortress 2 Halloween events reactivated to warm you up for Scream Fortress 6

Risk of Rain patch 1.2 adds killer chef and Aliens-inspired Loader

Tropico 5

Tropico 5 review

Tropico 5 review

“El Presidente, El Presidente, El Presidente!” It never ends; there’s always someone needing to talk to the greatest leader any banana republic has ever seen. An earthquake is turning Tropico to rubble, a military coup has erupted, workers are striking, a diplomat is offended and a foreign power is trying to invade. 

Tropico is not a quiet Caribbean island where you go to relax. It’s a chaotic place filled with caricatures and tongue-in-cheek political and social crises. It can go from calm to a complete bloody mess quickly, but that fat Swiss bank account makes it all worthwhile. 

Despite the Tropican penchant for revolutions, each installment of the city-building series has been more iteration than revolution. In Tropico 5, though, Haemimont Games has shaken out some of the dust and cobwebs, and thrown in several new - sometimes meaty - systems that go towards making it the most distinct game in the franchise. But some of these new features lack the refinement that the series’ mainstays enjoy.

The core of Tropico 5 is much the same as it has always been. In the role of El Presidente, players are given a wild, tropical paradise and tasked with turning it into a thriving city by any means necessary. Farming provides the backbone, flowing into simple industry, and the money generated from trading produce can be invested back into the island in the form of new buildings like schools, entertainment facilities and churches. 

But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to turn a few huts into a modern city. Social engineering, backroom deals, political pandering, assassinations - they are all necessary to ensure that as many Tropicans and foreign superpowers as possible are on the same page as El Presidente. 

Not surprisingly, after so many games, the heart of Tropico is a polished, compelling juggling act. The range of social and political edicts, and, of course, buildings, means that there’s always something that can be tweaked to solve a crisis or win an election. Every tweak can help Tropico grow, edging ever closer to the utopian or dystopian city El Presidente envisons. 

That song and dance has been going on for 13 years, though. It’s becoming a bit tired. So in comes the Era system, shaking things up in paradise. Tropico 5 is split into four distinct eras that limit what can be built and researched while also informing the goals for the period. 

The Colonial Era kicks things off. Gone are the many factions vying for control, leaving two period-appropriate factions behind. As a colony of the Crown, Tropico only has two types of people: royalists and revolutionaries. Royalists obviously want to stick with the rude, demanding Crown, while the revolutionaries want El Presidente to create a self-sustaining colony that can make a bid for independence. 

The juggling act that’s at the centre of the series is scaled down to balancing favour with the Crown and the support of the revolutionaries. El Presidente only has a temporary mandate to rule, not long enough to get the rebels’ backing, so some pandering to the powers back home is necessary to get mandate extensions. But not so much pandering that the beret-wearing malcontents feel betrayed. That means calling the King an ant-eater for the entertainment of the revolutionaries one minute, to sending the homeland all of Tropico’s beloved rum the next. 

When Tropico becomes independent, it moves into the World Wars Era, which squashes the first and second World Wars into a giant war between the Allies and Axis that spans about three decades. More Tropican factions appear, like the communists and capitalists, while outside influences like the Allies and Axis need to be dealt with through diplomacy, trade and war. As Tropico moves into the Cold War and Modern Times eras, it starts to become more familiar. More buildings are unlocked, the factions from the previous games return, and everything becomes a lot trickier to balance. 

The Era system eases would-be dictators into their roles. Each era up until Modern Times places limits on El Presidente, inspiring a more focused approach to constructing the city. The Colonial Era ensures that the resource gathering groundwork is laid down for the more industrialised World Wars Era, while the missions during the Allies vs. Axis conflict lead players to construct massive manufacturing chains and embark on large scale trading endeavours. These chains provide the profits necessary to create the tourist meccas and economic powerhouses of the later periods, tying everything neatly together. 

The campaign creates a few bumps in the otherwise smooth sense of progression. Jumping between different islands, repeating eras and responding to the incessant cries of “El Presidente!” from aides and advisors like snivelling Penultimo or Kane, the shadowy mentor, can get in the way of the simple joys of constructing a tropical paradise or dystopia.

That’s what sandbox mode is for, and it’s undoubtedly the meat of the game. Stuck on one island, El Presidente can guide it from a tiny village into a shining beacon of modernity. And Tropico 5’s sandbox experience is the best in the series, showering dictators in options for 200 years. Tropico can grow into a Communist police state where there’s a soldier on every street and rebels are hunted down and executed, or it can evolve into a trade hub, where behind the rows of docks and ships stand massive, gleaming skyscrapers.

Login or Register
Alienware - Game VictoriousNvidia Shield - Titanfall
Civilization: Beyond Earth review

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth review

World of Warcraft character transfers and changes discounted by 25%

World of Warcraft character transfers and changes discounted by 25%

Past Team Fortress 2 Halloween events reactivated to warm you up for Scream Fortress 6

Past Team Fortress 2 Halloween events reactivated to warm you up for Scream Fortress 6

Risk of Rain patch 1.2 adds killer chef and Aliens-inspired Loader

Risk of Rain patch 1.2 adds killer chef and Aliens-inspired Loader

Dota 2 players outnumbered all 99 other games on Steam's most-played list put together today

Dota 2 players outnumbered all 99 other games on Steam's most-played list put together today

Assassin's Creed Unity system specs are as steep as Notre Dame

Assassin's Creed Unity system specs are as steep as Notre Dame

Warframe Archwing update turns you into a rocket-powered space ninja

Warframe

Warframe Archwing update turns you into a rocket-powered space ninja

Nvidia now support DSR scaling for GeForce GTX 500, 600 and 700 Series graphics cards

Nvidia now support DSR scaling for GeForce GTX 500, 600 and 700 Series graphics cards

Counter-Strike ushers in its Halloween Mask-erade with player ghosts and vengeful chickens

Counter-Strike ushers in its Halloween Mask-erade with player ghosts and vengeful chickens

Get better acquainted with Dragon Age: Inquisition's Iron Bull, Sera and Dorian

Get better acquainted with Dragon Age: Inquisition's Iron Bull, Sera and Dorian

Don't call them dreadnoughts: Fractured Space is a multiplayer ship combat game from the Strike Suit Zero team

Don't call them dreadnoughts: Fractured Space is a multiplayer ship combat game from the Strike Suit Zero team

Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn is a 1-bit mystery, and you can play some of it right now

Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn is a 1-bit mystery, and you can play some of it right now

Win a ticket to the Tank Museum and a premium Fury Sherman with World of Tanks

World of Tanks

Win a ticket to the Tank Museum and a premium Fury Sherman with World of Tanks

Titanfall's next update will add wave-based co-op shenanigans and a bunch of new enemies

Titanfall's next update will add wave-based co-op shenanigans and a bunch of new enemies

Lords of the Fallen is a bit tricky, so Deck13 has broken down the mechanics in video form

Lords of the Fallen is a bit tricky, so Deck13 has broken down the mechanics in video form

Unity co-founder and CEO steps out of the ring, tagging ex-EA boss John Riccitiello

Unity co-founder and CEO steps out of the ring, tagging ex-EA boss John Riccitiello

Judge dismisses securities fraud suit against EA; executives were just being optimistic

Judge dismisses securities fraud suit against EA; executives were just being optimistic

Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim books will cover the lore and the land of Tamriel

Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim books will cover the lore and the land of Tamriel

Lords of the Fallen is a ferocious, and infuriating Dark Souls clone

Lords of the Fallen

Lords of the Fallen is a ferocious, and infuriating Dark Souls clone

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor gear guide: getting started

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor gear guide: getting started

Aliens by way of XCOM game, Halfway, gets mod support

Aliens by way of XCOM game, Halfway, gets mod support

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor has a place called Gorgrond that’s positively beastly

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor has a place called Gorgrond that’s positively beastly

The Stanley Parable sells over a million copies;

The Stanley Parable sells over a million copies; "The Narrator decided not to tell Stanley"

Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters:

Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters: "Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction"