Tropico 5 Review (PC)
Stuarts most anticipated game of 2014, but what has it lost?
I have had a long time to review Tropico 5 from Haemimont Games. It is the successor to the popular city/island builder series Tropico and it has a lot more on offer than previous iterations including multiplayer, increased graphics and added in-game features. Will Haemimont’s added features be enough to bring fans back to buying what could possibly be the same game?
Taking steps towards a dynasty builder, Tropico 5 allows you to have a family for a first time in the series. These family members play an important role in the progress of your island. They offer bonuses, seperate to the ones that are currently in place by your character, that help development as well as making them good choices for managers for the buildings.
A lot has changed from the previous Tropicos. One is that this game is far more serious. This has taken away from the main hook of the previous games: their charm and lack of caring at who they really offend. However, this game is genuinely a better city/island builder than the Tropicos of yesteryear. Each type of building has its own upgrades, which sometimes have to be researched (which is done by your library). You are also able to make use of trade routes with other countries or smugglers. These can be for you to export a certain resource or for you to have resources imported. Most are profitable but at a real sense of total control and management of the island.
The main difference in this game is the amount of control. Before, you were plonked onto an island, able to build whatever buildings you wanted and you could issue edicts and side with factions. But in Tropico 5 you are able to write up a constitution upon ending the colonial rule, albeit with only a few choices. You are also able to start a family who rule the island, who also contribute to its development through being a manager or just by being around. You are also able to explore the island for the first time, venturing out into the fog ridden island to discover its hidden wonders. This is done by sending an exploration crew, consisting of soldiers either from a nearby fort or from your palace. This is at a cost though, not just monetary but also military. For instance, if you are attacked, say by some Royalist scum, then you are almost defenceless. The purpose of this added control though, I assume, is to give you greater sense of achievement when you do well. Not just in terms of meeting the campaigns demands but also if your island flourishes under your rule.
Combat is a bit better in this game than the last. For one thing it is much clearer to see. Also you are able to attack buildings when in multiplayer mode. The combat during single player campaign also makes use of the attacks on buildings, mainly done by your opponents on your guard towers and forts. The colonial combat is pretty funny, watching them fire shots every 10 seconds as they have to reload their weapons after each shot.
The changing of era is really nice, I like starting off the island with the workers having to tow trolleys behind them as they run to build a new building. You feel more involved with the development of the island. One way this is done is by you having to get out from the shadow of the crown. As you start in the colonial era, and you are put in charge of the island as governor, you have to meet certain requirements given to you by the crown. This might sound counter productive, but as long as you increase the amount of revolutionaries on the island you should be ok.
Visually, this game is stunning. On high specs it looks beautiful and the effects like wind and waves are really nice. A lot of detail is gone into the look of the game. Which is probably why the developers have opted for a hollow grid look for the best areas to place buildings as opposed to the filled in grid that came before. I really didn’t like this, it makes it far more difficult to read the lay of the land. This is about the only thing in the game I really didn’t like. The menus look a lot like a polished version of Imperialism. The placing of the cross to close them is at the bottom right. This really got under my skin at first, but after a while you get used to it.
Sadly, the foot tapping music has also left. This was one of the first things I noticed, after a few songs the sad realisation that the happy music I listened to at length in Tropico 4 has been removed. Replaced by a similar style of music but nowhere near as upbeat.
Overall, this is probably the best game in the Tropico series, and one of the best city builders currently available. However, it has lost a lot of its fun to cater for a wider market. As a city/island almost dynasty builder, this is pretty spot on. I hate the fact that it’s not as fun or as upbeat, but I guess they were put to the side in the name of progress. Yes, this is not a totally different game to the prequels in the series but it still makes use of most of their features such as quick button commands to select different things to build. It has the same general look about it too, but it smoothed some of the rough edges out.
4.5 Profitable trade routes out of 5