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Tropico 5

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Haemimont Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 (1 - 4 Online Multiplayer)
Genre: God Games/ Simulation/ Strategy


Graphics & Sound:

As the name would imply, Tropico 5 is not the first game in the Tropico series. With at least one game in the series that didn't stick to the numeric naming convention, it is not merely the 5th, either. While some readers may be familiar with earlier games in the series and, in fact, we have reviews of several of the other games in the series, Tropico 5 is my first experience with the series. That having been said, don't expect a lot of comparison to earlier games in the series. I will be approaching Tropico 5 from the viewpoint of someone new to the series.

The presentation in Tropico 5 is wonderfully executed, with artistic watercolor loading screens, entertaining historical dictator facts, lush jungles, vibrantly colored shacks and tenements and catchy, uptempo island music with a Cubano/Latino flair. In fact, I find myself whistling or humming the island music when I'm not playing the game; when I find myself having a hard time remembering how the music goes, I know it's time to play some more. Tropico 5 provides a wonderful island ambiance that puts me in the mood for tacos with pineapple mango salsa... the kind of game that would go great with a margarita, piņa colada or a muy delicioso non-alcoholic Iron Beer.

The voice acting in Tropico 5 is well done, with some amusing characters, such as the proper and a bit shady Lord Oaksworth and, of course, your right-hand man and advisor, General Pentultimo, who always has an amusing quip to introduce newly unlocked technologies as well as presenting a good number of the missions in the game.


Gameplay:

There are five types of game you can play in Tropico 5: Tutorial, Campaign, Sandbox, Multiplayer and Mission. Tutorial does a good job of teaching the basics of the game and familiarizing the player with the U.I. and the controls.

Campaign starts you off as the governor of an island colony, answering to the crown. From there, you'll need to increase wealth, happiness and the support of your Tropicans - all things that will assist you greatly when you declare independence and achieve sovereignty. Doing so gets you in a special club known as "The Order" and is your first step toward a little slice of world domination. You'll need to achieve independence more than once, however, as The Order sets you up as governor of a second island in order to woo the United States and gain influence with the Americas. This will leave you with two different islands to choose from for missions thereafter, as you go from Colonial times to World Wars, Cold War and, finally, Modern Times.

Sandbox gives you fairly fine control over the game setup, from the map you play on and the era you start in, to the specifications of the win conditions: number of points, amount of money or building constructed. You can also select the Economic and Political difficulty levels, as well as the Disaster frequency. You can even set the starting population and the starting money. If you find that limited funds are a frequent sticking point and you'd like to try things out without feeling tied down by lacking funds, you can even set the Starting Money to Unlimited. (Be aware, however, that doing so removes money from your list of win conditions.) Depending on your settings, the Sandbox games can be relatively short in duration, but still count as games in which your Dynasty members can be Leveled Up.

I didn't actually get a chance to play Multiplayer or Mission games, as of yet. Mission is locked until the Campaign Mode is completed. Multiplayer is available from the start, but each time I tried to find a match, I was unable to do so. You can, however, create your own multiplayer game and play with friends, but that requires that they, too, have the game.

As you proceed through the various times, your island will get upgraded roads and buildings available to be built. You will also be researching your way through the technology tree; it will be up to you to decide if it's more important to learn to mine for ore or to be able to upgrade your farms and plantations... or whether to start a nuclear weapons program or your own space program.


Difficulty:

First things first, you should start off by playing a Tutorial game. This will give you a handle on how to play Tropico 5 and introduce you to your advisors. Once you've completed the Tutorial, you can go ahead and start a Campaign game, if you feel comfortable. Or, if you want to get a better feel for things, you can "practice" by playing a Sandbox game.

There are certain things that I found could be quite devastating. Storms and other natural disasters can, of course, ruin your day. You can use the information grids to plan where to build to best avoid these dangers, but sometimes you just have to hope for the best and rebuild. Also, I once played a Sandbox game with the Disaster frequency set to Relentless and... only got hit by one tornado, losing 11 people and no buildings. This was less severe than any tornado I suffered in my other games, so when you make your Disaster frequency selection, realize that unpredictable weather is... unpredictable.

Another great cause of frustration for me has been the shifting trade market. If you go look at the market quickly and see an export that could get you some good income and then go start building a way to create that resource, you'll likely end up sorely disappointed. Using that approach, I've found that I didn't have the necessary resources for the factory, didn't have enough money to acquire those resources, didn't have the money to quickly finish the building of the factory and, when I got around to actually producing those items, the trade route was no longer there. Argh! Imagine finding yourself the ruler over a tiny island that had thrown all of its resources and effort into producing cars to sell to Russia - only to find that no one now has any interest in purchasing your cars. You now have three cars for every Tropican - and no where on the island is outside of walking distance.

Taxes are another source of difficulty in Tropico 5. You may weigh your decisions carefully, but be assured that the king will be creating missions - and taxes - based on utter whim, requiring you to increase your output to support the creation of his new underwater palace or equally nonsensical buffoonery. If these taxes get to be too out of control, you can sometimes refuse to pay them. However, doing so makes the king unhappy and making the king unhappy can lead to his soldiers running around your island, shooting at things and possibly ending your family's dynasty before it begins. So, there's that.

Even once you've gained your sovereignty, you still have to worry about people running around with guns and coming after you. This can be neighboring islands, other countries or, more frequently, unhappy citizens who think they shouldn't have to pay for their food or live in a shack they made out of garbage. You can use religious buildings to keep them passive, use police forces to weed out the bad apples, and build your own military to quash rebellions and break up protests, but it may be easier to use your handy Almanac to keep tabs on how the various factions are feeling about your reign and make sure than no one gets too unhappy.


Game Mechanics:

Here's a small gripe, but an annoying one. This only happened to me once, but let my story be a cautionary tale. There is an option on the details of the various buildings to Demolish them. There is no prompt asking if you really want to demolish the building, so be very careful not to accidentally click on that option. Instead of a warning prompt, there is a short amount of time in which you can click on an option to cancel the Demolition. That would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that the various time-triggered mission prompts can pop up during the time that you have to cancel a Demolition. That happened to me and the fumbling that it caused made me take too long to save my Dock. My Dock! In that particular game, destroying my Dock was much like cutting off a leg just for fun. How did that game turn out? No. I abandoned that game. I was already hurting and limping along. The loss of the money needed to replace my Dock was not worth seeing it through. I tried to reload an earlier autosave, but it hadn't made one yet.

Tropico 5 does have Autosaves, and they can come in handy, but I highly suggest you save your game at regular intervals. When you find yourself really happy with where you are in the game, save. When you need to leave and come back to the game, save. Saving multiple files at different points can minimize the pain inflicted by accidents, unexpected uprisings or similar incidents. If you're not the "creep and save" sort, that's fine; this is merely a suggestion based on a few games that I found myself in points from which I could not recover.

As I said at the beginning of the review, I haven't played the Tropico series before, so this isn't a comparison between 5 and any of its predecessors. Just evaluating my experience with Tropico 5, I found it immensely fun and addictive in that let-me-try-that-one-more-time or that just-five-more-minutes sort of way. If you're familiar with the series, you may or may not prefer this one to previous versions. However, if you, like me, haven't tried the series out before, feel free to jump into Tropico 5 feet first. I greatly enjoyed 5 without feeling like I was missing anything by not having played the earlier games.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8, Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core CPU, Memory: 4 GB RAM, Graphics: GeForce 400 or higher, AMD Radeon HD 4000 or higher, Intel HD 4000 or higher (DirectX 11 hardware support required), DirectX: Version 11, Hard Drive: 4 GB available space, Sound Card: DirectX compatible
 

Test System:



[Alienware Aurora] Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3, Alienware Mainboard, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB), Dual Monitors (Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI / Sony SDM-HS73), 500 GB Solid State Primary Hard Drive, 1000 GB Secondary Hard Drive, Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse, Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Logitech Z313 2.1-CH PC multimedia speaker system, Call of Duty: Ghosts Ear Force Spectre Limited Edition Gaming Headset, Broadband Internet

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