Ever wondered what it’d be like to rule the world? Or maybe you prefer to save it instead? Tropico 5 lets you do both as the tyrannical (or benevolent) ruler, El Presidente!
Tropico 5 is the franchise’s first venture onto the PS4 console and it does well enough to get my vote for a second term. As a long time city builder fan (since the Sim City 2000 and Caesar series), I try my hand at most… but unfortunately, most can’t keep me interested for long. Tropico, however, is one of the rare franchises that I can’t get enough of.
Each city simulator (like most games in any given genre) tries to set itself apart in different ways. For example, the Sim City franchise has a strong focus on city planning and the economic side of things. Tropico on the other hand, is all about the people. Yes, it’s still important to ensure that your city is economically sustainable, but if you can’t work with your people… you’re OUT!… and it’s game over.
While you don’t quite start out as El Presidente (you begin as a Governor for the Crown), you’re set in charge of your own island. It then your choice if you want to be feared or loved by your people… as long as they vote for you during elections, you’re fine. If not, it doesn’t matter if you have millions in the bank… the people have spoken.
You learn very quickly that money is the least of your concerns in Tropico. You have the option to set the Constitution as you see fit, but know that each option will make you either gain, or lose, favour with one of the factions on the island. A ‘Planned Economy’ will get you votes from the Capitalists, but you’ll lose votes from the Communists. Embrace ‘Green Policies’ and be buddies with the Environmentalists, but be prepared to face the wrath of the Industrialists.
Balancing the relations between factions is key to a long reign. Lose enough influence with the major factions and you’ll soon be dealing with protests, rebel attacks and coups. Feel sympathetic? You can negotiate with the protesters. Just want the noise to stop? Pay them to disperse. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Send in the Army and gun them all down!… your choice.
Tropico allows you to select individual citizens as well, not just groups. You have the option to follow your citizens around (how else are you going to find out what how much they love you) and issue orders to kill or banish those that fail to see you for the great ruler that you are.
The gameplay and controls on the PS4 is very smooth and easy to pick up. I always found that city-builders are best played with a mouse. Tropico 5 though, handles very well with the controller and it wasn’t long before I was planning the city with ease. Unlike other city-builders though, the buildings in Tropico are individually placed. It can get challenging when you’re trying to select that one house among a group of ten.
Gameplay and graphics put aside, it is really Tropico’s irreverent humour that keeps you hooked. From the shameless Radio DJ to Penultimo, your bumbling right hand man and leader of your hopeless research team, the cast of Tropico is well worth the price of the game itself.
Tropico 5 effortlessly ports the essence of the franchise to the PS4 and looks set to convert the Console Gamer faction as well. Viva La Presidente!