Welcome to Tropico, a little known archipelago somewhere off the coast of some continent; most likely near South America if you take into account the cultural, linguistic, and the architectural prevalence. Not to mention the stereotypical silliness of the general mentality. In the sixth installment of the Tropico franchise, developer Limbic Entertainment and publisher Kalypso Media put you in the role of the leader of this small group of islands wherein you will decide how to run this miniature country. Will you be a cunning politician or general, or maybe you’ll be a man for the people? Or, as the story seems to suggest, will you be yet another South American dictator? Your choices and your ability to juggle the various demands and challenges of being… El Presidente. This is our review of Tropico 6.
Be forewarned, if you are unfamiliar with this style of game, or even with this particular franchise, you will most likely want to make use of the tutorial levels. While the tutorials don’t come anywhere near addressing every aspect of Tropico 6’s complexities, it does do a really good job of demonstrating the interdependence of the various aspects of maintaining a working economy. That being said, the tutorial is not a part of the main campaign story, which actually takes you back in time to the colonial era, before you even become El Presidente. Yeah, to begin with, you’re just a menial governor who’s position is granted and maintained solely at the behest of the Brittish Crown.
Following the campaign is s sort of tutorial itself, in that as you progress through era to era more and more options and aspects of ruling become available. There are four eras spanning from colonial to World Wars to Cold War and finally, to modern times. As you go through the various panels of abilities and statistics, you may see many options greyed out as you have either not met the prerequisites or are merely not far along in historical progression. Going into the World War era, it will become necessary to either pick sides in the war or maneuver your politically savvy way through uncommitted, if you can. This will obviously become an aspect throughout the later eras as well. Yes, you will want a military, and not just for keeping your… people in line.
The more immediate, and probably the more involved and important, part of ruling over Tropico is maintaining order amongst your people… subjects, peasants, what-have-you. This is certainly a very involving goal and can make the larger scheme of world politics seem almost an annoyance in comparison. No matter what path you choose, there are a plethora of challenges, many of which you can keep tabs on through the handy Almanac feature which contains various statistical readouts regarding the well-being, happiness, education status, religiousness, and rebelliousness of your citizens. All of which you, as their leader, have a direct hand in either stifling or facilitating. Try not to facilitate rebellion after the colonial era. They really don’t need any help with that.
Honestly, I’m not usually a “city-building” kind of gamer. Aside for some dalliances within a particularly in-depth RTS, or in a few of the newer survival type games. Even then, they are little more than curious dalliances. So imagine my surprise when I found this particular title pulling me in as its deceptive simplicity evolved into multi-tiered complexity and intense micromanaging capacities. While the interactions and story elements are amusing, to begin with, particularly in the colonial era, I found it to be somewhat lacking later on. Interactions between you and the different faction leaders become rote and seem to accomplish little. Of course, I haven’t yet earned the outright ire of any of the larger nations or alliances, either. However, if you are any sort of minute manager, or are merely a fan of these types of games, I found it to have good gameplay that became more involving and complex as eras passed.
Creating a multiplayer game give the player a chance to pick from several different island layouts and to affect a fairly large variety of aspects, including choosing between or combining various victory requirements.
I did run into some issues, some of which are already being addressed by the devs, such as not being able to export sugar. I thought this was odd, especially how readily sugar was transported to my rum distilleries. Go figure. Also, during the World Wars era, you are introduced to a broker character who will offer you various deals and contracts that might push the boundaries of legality and morality. After being introduced to him, I discovered he could only be paid through El Presidente’s secret Swiss Bank account, but was given no idea, nor any path to pad said bank account until much later, through a specific quest for the Broker. In the meantime, he continually kept popping up with deals that I could do nothing with. A little frustrating, but nothing too serious. None of the issues I encountered were game-breaking, and overall the game played smoothly.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on (platform) with a code provided by PR.
Compare to: SimCity franchise, Anno franchise