For anyone who has played previous Tropico games, Tropico 5 will seem more of an evolution than a revolution. Developer Haemimont have stuck by the old ‘if it ain’t broke..’ adage and, rather than redesigning the game from the ground up, they have opted instead to keep all of the familiar aspects of the franchise intact and improve on them. Further proof that if EA can do it with Fifa, then other developers can do it as well. And Haemimont have done it very well indeed. One of the first things you’ll notice about Tropico 5 is how instantly familiar it all feels. The characteristic top down view to place buildings and trade goods remains intact. And, as in previous games, you will spend most of your time juggling the often conflicting whims and wishes of your population and those of the outside super powers. And not to mention forming questionable alliances with pirates to open valuable trade routes.
As one of the best city builder games on the market, Tropico 5 has you installed as a governor of a backwater island somewhere in the Caribbean. Your task is to build the island’s economy and develop its resources. Oh and to amass as much wealth as possible for your personal ‘investments.’ Where Tropico 5 differentiates itself from its predecessors is in the fact that this is much more serious game with bucket loads of choices to be made. Every decision you make has a consequence, either now or further down the line. At one point I decided not to pay The Crown an inflated tax demand. The result: six months later I lost my mandate to govern and had to restart the level. Ouch. It can be argued that Haemimont have gone for a more serious feel to the game as they see that as being the best way to take on rival city-builder games like Sim City and Civilization. It’s a gamble that, in our books, has paid off. With Tropico 5 you feel as though you’re in control of everything.
From research and development to running every aspect of your economy. A good example of this is that, very early on in the game, your population will ask for an election. It’s up to you to decide whether to win it fair and square or dabble in a little creative vote counting. Excellent.
Unlike previous Tropico games that were set during the time of the Cold War, Tropico 5 is a much bigger and broader game spanning multiple eras. This of course means you have longer periods of management and, consequently, a broader range of development and research needs if you plan to stay in power.
At the very beginning of the game you are installed as the island’s new governor who rules at the whim of The Crown (presumably, this is the British Crown, but is never specified). As time goes on you encourage revolutionaries to move to the island and, eventually, your popularity grows enough for you to declare your independence. Another feature that instantly stands out in Tropico 5 is the ability to have a family. Unlike previous outings of the game, you can create your own dynasty who will earn you rewards and can also be installed as managers to run your buildings. Nepotism is a family game that we can all play. Tropico 5 also comes with a much welcome multiplayer function which adds another dimension to what would otherwise be a sandbox solitary experience.
Graphically, Tropico 5 stands head and shoulders above previous versions. Haemimont have lavished careful attention on every detail of the island. From the hypnotic, breath-taking waves washing by the seashore to the excellent design of the buildings. Everything here is simply stunning to look at. The only issue we had was that the cheerful, foot tapping music of previous games has been replaced with a couple of so-and-so tracks that are very forgettable to say the least. A minor gripe and one that does little to detract from the game.
Over all Tropico 5 is a worthy addition to the dynasty / city building genre. It is a thoughtful and challenging game that demonstrates that politics is not only the art of the possible in a given time, tt can also be fun. Tropico 5 will keep you playing for months. A big thumbs up and definitely worth buying.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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