"Haemimont Games has improved nearly every area that made the series successful in the first place."
Tropico prides itself in turning the most honorable leader into a monstrous dictator. My first few hours of leadership were build on trust and peace. Yet despite my good intentions, I ended up bankrupt with half the island warring and my allies turning against me. While playing an honest leader is certainly possible, Tropico’s satirical approach to politics “encourages” dirty play in order to truly succeed. Then again, considering how foul most politicians are in real life, Tropico may be far more realistic than it appears at first glance. Since its original release in 2001, Tropico’s niche has been its tongue-in-cheek presentation of the banana republics and Tropico 5 is no different. The game’s humor is still undeniably charming while the mature gameplay offers a complex, immersive and challenging experience. Tropico 5 may not be a massive franchise overhaul, but Haemimont Games has improved nearly every area that made the series successful in the first place. For anyone who’s been let down by the recent Sim City catastrophe, Tropico 5 may be the remedy you’ve been looking for.
If you’re a series newcomer, the game offers a robust tutorial mode that demonstrates the ins and outs of becoming an economic, political and military power. The fundamentals are easy to grasp and the humorous tone makes each lesson a joy to play through. As with previous entries, the goal is to build a thriving island and strike a balance between citizen contentment and formidable leadership. Being too cordial can make you an easy target for invasions whereas barbarous dictatorship quickly leads to messy rebellions. Knowing when to please your islanders and when to put your foot down is key to succeeding in Tropico 5.
"Each era radiates with architectural diversity and gives Tropico 5 a greater sense of progression and grandeur."
Series veterans will immediately notice the addition of eras. Being able to play from the 19th to the 21st century is both more dynamic (leading to drastically different strategic solutions) and visually compelling. Each era radiates with architectural diversity and gives Tropico 5 a greater sense of progression and grandeur. Unfortunately, eras also come with restrictions. Certain facilities can’t be constructed until a specific time period is reached and staring at the grayed out icons creates a sense of restraint. But considering the broader range of industry and development, it’s easy to forgive the initial gameplay imbalance.
Another interesting new feature is the introduction of Dynasties. With a family by his side, El Presidente can appoint different leadership positions to his children and even choose the rightful heir. Up to seven family members can be added to the players’ Dynasty, each with their unique traits and history. Research and renovation is another welcoming addition to Tropico 5, allowing players to send out scouting units to discover new building and technologies and allowing old buildings to be remodeled into more modern versions.
"Fundamentally, Tropico 5 still retains the predecessors’ core mechanics. It’s more of the same, only better and deeper."
Visually, Tropico 5 is an outburst of color and style. The predecessors’ gorgeous aesthetic still remains with many of the rough edges polished to perfection. Shifts in color saturation dance with the constantly changing weather, making the entire island feel energetic and alive. Tropico 5 may not push a PC’s hardware to its max, but it oozes with style and charm. There’s something extremely satisfying about being able to zoom in on the island’s inhabitants and watch them go about their day and analyze their thoughts and needs. Tropico 5 creates a sense of immersion unlike anything else in the genre. I only wish the character creator offered more options. You’re limited to a few generic facial and apparel presets, which contradict the otherwise diverse and flexible nature of the gameplay. Nevertheless, Tropico 5 is a real treat for the eyes, especially once the island fills with more citizens and newer technologies in later eras.
Fundamentally, Tropico 5 still retains the predecessors’ core mechanics. It’s more of the same, only better and deeper. If you’ve never played a Tropico game before, this is undoubtedly the best place to start. And for long time franchise devotees, Tropico 5 offers enough changes and tweaks making this the most impressive installment to date. With the console port just around the corner, I can only hope the developers manage to translate Tropico’s spirit to the gamepad the same way they did with Tropico 4.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC