This was my second venture into the Tropico franchise after playing Tropico 5 when that was first released. Tropico 5 was a solid game that I thoroughly enjoyed so I was intrigued to see what Tropico 6 could bring to the table.
The game actually changed developers and was now being developed by Limbic Entertainment, better known for the Might & Magic series. They announced the game was being rebuilt on a better platform in the form of the Unreal Engine 4. However, even after all this, it does look like a reskin of Tropico 5. The more you play though, the further from that it moves, though.
The game starts with a nice cut scene of El Presidenté advertising Tropico before the Statue of Liberty is flown on the island and dumped there, a huge hint that you’ll be able to get some World Landmarks on your version of Tropico. There was none of the outrageous live action stuff that some of the trailers saw thankfully, but it was enough to develop the story.
The menu layout was simple to use and gave a variety of options. First of all, I jumped into customization to see what choices they have added in. I was pleasantly surprised to see this was more in-depth with you being able to change El Presidenté’s style and even the visual aspect of your Palace that you reside in game. You could choose the appearance you wanted for El Presidenté and had a selection of comical outfits such as Pirate or a Pharoah.
You even had a choice of a cigar variant or if you really wanted, you could give El Presidenté a pacifier. I decided against that though and kept him with a well-trimmed beard and a cigar. Oh and then I changed his suit to a full red lobster like one, just because I could.
Another nice feature was being able to pick a trait for El Presidenté. You could keep him “Kind of Normal” which had no gameplay effects, or you could pick from a dozen other ones which had both negative and positive effects if picked.
Moving on from this you were able to customize your palace to pick what color you wanted, what wall you wanted around it, and what decorations you wanted in the garden. You were even able to add a rooftop extension which ranged from something normal such as a roof garden or helipad or even on the verge of extreme in the form of a giant fish tank. I picked the latter to my own amusement.
Right, customization all over, it was a new game territory now. The game gives you three options to pick from at the start – ‘Tutorial’, ‘Missions’, or ‘Sandbox’. I picked the tutorial to try and get a grasp of any new features and a much-needed refresh to the franchise.
The game informs you that you’ll play through four historical eras and it is up to you how you are remembered. If you get voted out or are ousted out, then the game is over. There are ten parts to the tutorial and be warned, it is time-consuming. I recommend completing it though because it will see you through the game and improve your understanding of it. It will give you an in-depth rundown of the UI and all the stats that are within it and how to use them to improve your Tropico. The last tutorial lesson – number 10 “Shady Business” is a bit of a drag though and sees you hanging around doing nothing for a number of years, but I managed to pull through that in the end, though.
The tutorial also shows you some of the new features that lie within Tropico 6, the major one being that you can now manage an Archipelago of Islands rather than being stuck on one. It’s a nice feature to be able to build bridges and tunnels across the islands, but sometimes it feels like that map sizes now have less space to work with because of the waterways. On top of the bridges, it adds new transport infrastructure in the form of busses and taxis and even cable cars. You’re able to build a bus depot and plot the bus stops along the islands, and if you really wanted, you could give the citizens free bus travel. Nah, I wasn’t that kind of leader!
Amongst the traffic infrastructure additions, they’ve improved on the buildings available and the types there are. There also more factions within the game and better ways of being able to juggle each of them. It is always fun when you have to pick one over the other and then you just piss them all off.
The game provides you with 15 missions, although you can only pick one from the start and have to unlock the rest. There is a decent playtime within them and they’re pretty self-explanatory on what you’re doing. Most of it is “build this, build that, set up a trade route” and just more of that. It also gives you a story on your beloved aid ‘Penultimo’ and expands your El Presidenté story. Every time it pops up with a task, whether that be a main or optional one, it provides you with that person’s speech and essentially why they are doing it, generally providing a gentle humor with it too.
If you didn’t want to be bogged down by certain ‘win’ conditions, you could move onto sandbox mode. There are 30 different maps for you to pick from and you can change a lot of the default settings. You can change what era you start, the starting population, how much money you start with and if you really wanted you can create your own win conditions. When you begin in the sandbox mode it does provide you with a bit of a running start in which some residences, a teamsters office, a dock, and even a corn plantation have already been built for you. It’s just up to you to expand from this.
It is worth mentioning there is a multiplayer mode available with both cooperative and competitive play where you can have up to four people play.
Overall yes, the game feels much like a Tropico 5 reskin, but knowing it has been built from scratch on the Unreal Engine 4 gives you a sense they wanted to improve it. Tropico 5 was a good game and Tropico 6 has certainly expanded on it and giving it it’s own unique take, you just have to rummage around for a bit to find it. The graphics are top class and looking down on your set of islands from afar or even near is stunning. Seeing your Tropico being self sustained is a pleasure to view.
The User Interface is pretty much the same as used in the predecessor, but it’s easy to use and understand so didn’t really need that much uplifting. The stats within it aren’t overly complicated and the thorough tutorial provides you with the knowledge on how to use it properly.
The game provides you with an array of new buildings and new features to set it apart from the last. Building bridges across the islands are fun and pleasing aesthetically. Sometimes it feels like you’re limited with the amount of space you can build on due to the island being split up into many.
The game also gives you a decent story to keep it interesting and allows you to essentially develop it in your own way. It has a good sense of humor within the game, one that will see you giving out slight laughs to yourself. This game is maybe a bit too pricey at full price, but if it is on sale, it is worth buying. Tropico 5 will see you by for now until this goes a bit cheaper.