Tropico 5 Review
Tropico 5 Box Art
System: PC, PS4, Xbox 360
Dev: Haemimont Games
Pub: Kalypso Media
Release: May 23, 2014
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Tobacco Reference, Violence

Though there are harsh decisions to be made in our taboo perception of dictatorship, the game brushes aside any dourness and replaces it with mocking humor. At critical moments we will hear radio broadcasts from a bubbly announcer reminding us that everything should be taken lightly. A homeless person may elicit pity, but when their thoughts are about taxing people as a tourist attraction because of it, it's hard to take them seriously. Even the quests find jovial tones. The United States may request you build a waste treatment plant to hide rockets for them, but then a subsequent quest has you building a pig ranch next to the treatment plant because the pig manure is needed to coat the rockets and stop them from exploding due to a design flaw.

Tropico 5 Screenshot

The music also keeps the game perpetually laid back. The ever present upbeat Latin music plays lightly in the background, and doesn't change even when angry citizens are storming the palace or tornados are sweeping through the city. It seems out of place during many of these moments, but again I believe it was a design choice to keep the game from getting too serious. The tracks are generic, with trumpets, guitar plucking, and the like. It's a good backdrop, but nothing memorable.

The visuals are very archaic. Citizens wander around town smoothly enough, and the gentle animations give your city a sense of believability, but closer inspection reveals very rough details. Most buildings are blocky and boring, and the limited character customizations make you look like a dried up prune in a military green outfit. I plopped a clown nose and green hair on my Presidente just to add a splash of color to the bland palette.

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In technical respects Tropico 5 feels more like an expansion rather than a successor in the series. Many parts of the gameplay feel similar to past titles, but the inclusion of the era system, an overall campaign that is brimming with choices and consequences, as well as a plausible maiden attempt at multiplayer gives long time fans something new to try out. With touchy political subject matter that is completely mocked and music that makes you move in your seat, it's hard not to play Tropico 5 without a smile on your face.

By
Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: May 22, 2014

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.0
Graphics
Lightly coated animations give your paradise island life, but the overall graphics are very bland and dated.
3.5
Control
Relatively clunky camera controls and sifting through numerous menus are an annoyance. Shaping your ever-growing empire and keeping tabs on everything within it is better than most city builders.
3.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
With the hip moving Latin music playing in the background, you'll feel all your tension waft away. The voice acting is pretty hammy, but likely designed that way.
4.2
Play Value
It is the most robust Tropico game yet, though many features still feel recycled. The online multiplayer is a valiant first effort, but let's hope it is given more attention in the next incarnation.
3.6
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Start your reign during colonial times, survive the World Wars and the Great Depression, be a dictator during the Cold War, and advance your country to modern times and beyond. From the 19th century to the 21st, each era carries its own challenges and opportunities.
  • Each member of El Presidente’s extended family is present on the island and may be appointed as a ruler, a manager, an ambassador or a general. Invest in the members of your Dynasty to unlock new traits and turn them into your most valuable assets.
  • Advance your nation by discovering new buildings, technologies and resources. Renovate your old buildings to more efficient modern buildings.
  • Amass a global trade fleet and use your ships to secure trade routes to neighboring islands or world superpowers, both for export and import.
  • Up to 4 players can build up their own cities and economies on any given island map. Players can choose to share resources, supplies and population or declare war on each other.

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