Tropico 5 is full of opportunities, it gives you full access to all of its content from the moment your turn on the game. Tutorial, Campaign, Missions, Sand-Box, and Multiplayer are all a part of the initial package, and if you don’t feel like it’s enough, you can always purchase additional content form the PlayStation Store. However, content is just a part of the game.
As the last strategy game that I have played was Europa Universalis IV back in 2013, I’ve decided to start off with the tutorial. It spoon fed me all the basics, and after about two minutes I’ve decided that it was a complete waste of time. After I have returned back to the main menu I’ve launched the campaign. Upon entering the uncharted territories, I’ve been greeted by a bog standard customization menu, which to me was slightly disappointing. First I have tried to create a dynasty of ‘Bolivars’, and to me it was only appropriate to start it with Simon ‘El Libertador’ Bolivar himself; however, the name Simon was nowhere to be found. Unable to go with my first choice, I’ve decided to settle for Chavez dynasty, however the name Hugo was also unavailable.
Now, slowly running out of options I had no choice but to turn to Pablo ‘El Patron’ Escobar. My discontent grew with every press of a button as game only allows you to scroll through the list of available names one at a time. While sluggishly searching for the name Pablo, my attention has wandered elsewhere, as the fact that the movements of the on screen character differed to the ones in the reflection in the mirror that stood behind him, disturbed me greatly. Nevertheless I’ve found it, and I was finally able to start playing, with the ‘Hobo Dictator’ which I have created in the process.
The campaign itself is rather simple and straightforward. It’s a set of missions spread across different maps, which set for you new challenges every time you make any significant progress. Plot of the campaign mode is presented by caricaturised characters. At the beginning all your actions are carried out under the jurisdiction of the Crown, which voices its orders through appropriate entities. However as the story progresses, new characters such as a representative of underground society (Illuminati) is introduced. He helps you on your quest to become an independent state, and ultimately allows you to become a powerful monarchy which can represent the organisation and its cause.
The story mode while satisfying, has its flaws. At times the framerate can drop dramatically and turn the game into a choppy slide-show, a slide-show which at times is interrupted by rouge loading screens that appear out of nowhere. All this, is accompanied by rather blocky graphical display, but since it’s a strategy, and the art style along with soundtrack are on point, this should not hamper your overall experience too much.
In 21st century, a century where majority of developers push for cinematic experiences, story modes become a focal point of majority of titles, however this is not the case with Tropico.
”There is more than meets the eye”
Tropico is at its best when it’s played with no barriers whatsoever. Once you’re given complete control over your proletariat, and the island as the whole, only then you’ll be able to experience all the joys of dictatorship. A single game in sandbox mode can take hours upon hours, but while playing, you’ll be able to craft the stories of your own. My endeavour with the game was rather joyful. I started off from a strong foot, in order to cater to the people of my isle I’ve made sure they had everything they needed. Appropriate Housing, check. Sustainable food supply, check. Entertainment, Social Security, Health service, all checked. However, everything has to come to an end.
As I’ve abandoned simple industries and have concentrated on pursuit of scientific prowess, everything got out of hand extremely quickly. The armies of intellectuals that I’ve created with provision of higher education simply refused to carry out all menial jobs. All the industries that have escaped my attention, have rapidly fell victim to economic crash. To prevent starvation I had to invest in import, and foreign workforce, and this did not go well with the public. The streets slowly turned red as citizen of my society rapidly turned to the cause of my opponents. Now on the brink of rebellion I had no choice but to defend myself. After I’ve closed all the import routes and mowed down the buildings that sheltered the rebels, I’ve spent every penny that I had to military provisions.
It was now 1998, I was on my own, and everyone was against me. Sheltered in my palace I’ve awaited the inevitable, my death. Month after month, the rebels have attacked various points of interest, getting ever closer to my safe haven, but I’ve prevailed. Soon, the population of my isle decreased to 300 inhabitants, as starvation and continuous bombardment decimated the revolutionaries. Sure of my success, I was making preparations in order to rebuild my kingdom once the hostilities come to an end. But before I could react, it was over. My own protectors, the people I’ve paid to save my life, have become my enemies. By sparking military coup d’etat, they soon were at the doors of my palace. In disbelieve, that anyone would dare to bite the hand that feeds, I have given up. My death was not the end, as I was still able to use the dynasty to take control over another isle, but it was the end of Pablo Escobar.
”It’s the best of its genre, but there is not much competition”
Tropico 5 at times struggles with the matchmaking, and quick matching can take up to five minutes at the time, server browser does exist but at this time it is constantly empty. Also while in the main multiplayer menu your PSN ID is exposed to everyone present resulting in endless bombardments of invites and messages.
Arguably, Tropico 5 is the best game of its genre on consoles of current generation, however veterans of the franchise might be disappointed by reduced amount of micromanagement that was present within previous iterations. You’re still required to pay attention to some minute details, but ultimately it is more approachable than Tropico 4, and even if you are not a fan of the genre it is still worth to give it a try, as sandbox mode is a lot of fun, and multiplayer only adds to the experience.
Disclaimer: Tropico 5 was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 using a retail copy distributed to Victory Point by Kalypso Media.