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Haemimont Games hits its stride with 'Tropico 5'

'Tropico 5' Screenshots-slide0
Photo courtesy of Kalypso Media, used with permission.

'Tropico 5'

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Tropico 5 is a more robust, well rounded experience than ever before.

'Tropico 5' releases on May 27 in the US.
'Tropico 5' releases on May 27 in the US.
Photo courtesy of Kalypso Media, used with permission.

If there was anything keeping the previous Tropico games from being truly great, from taking that next step, it was that everything felt a little too fluid. There simply weren't enough ways for Haemimont Games to keep players guessing outside of unforeseen monetary expenditures.

With Tropico 5 however, the developer has clearly differentiated each Era as time progresses. In essence, these change what overarching task the player is faced with. During Colonial Times it's in your main interest to keep the crown happy, allowing you to retain your reign as governor whilst building up your revolutionary forces. Successfully achieve this and you'll enter the World Wars Era where you must balance relations with the Axis and the Allies, lest they decide to invade your island and seize control.

Those missions which once functioned as simple means to restock your island's bank are now often ultimatums that must be completed. Failing to do so typically results in soured relations or other penalties.

With the addition of Tropico 4's "Modern Times" expansion, players gained the ability to finally travel beyond the 1900s and past the turn of the century. Whereas the experience previously ended at the conclusion of the Cold Wars, Tropico 5 incorporates this new Era, granting players access to new technologies, buildings, and edicts.

It's these three major departments that now lean heavily on each other. There's more issues than ever that players need to ascertain before they can achieve mastery and that's something that speaks strongly for Haemimont. Keeping Tropicans happy and alive in the time that you're between elections is no longer the sole concern. Although it ultimately boils down to giving your people what they want, satisfying those with greater power, all the while managing to have some fun along the way, there are things you might consider trivial that you now have to deal with.

Want to export some of you products at a slightly higher price? Better pay attention to that contract you signed with the Axis. Most buildings not only have upgrades but also now have a manager slot that allows you to assign certain Tropicans which have distinguished themselves from the rest of the crowd. Each of these managers carry a specific trait which benefits the building itself or the immediate area.

If that wasn't enough you no longer have just El Presidente.

You have a dynasty.

Over time children will be created, passing along your bloodline. When each election rolls around – at least if you've designated your country as a Democracy during the creation of your Constitution – you have a choice as to which family member will run for office. This added mechanic, multiple members of the same family, adds an overarching aspect between each time you play.

Want to create your own historical regime? Now you can opt to transfer it into the next time you play. And that Swiss bank account you're always laundering money into? Reach $50,000 and you'll be able to upgrade the global and local effect that your family member has on Tropico.

Don't grow too comfortable though, new is the chance to play with or against up to four of your friends. A cooperative experience allows you to work together to build up your Caribbean paradise. However, things may grow more difficult with the added pressure of the other Presidentes. Citizens may grow envious of another settlement and your so called friends can capitalize on the opportunity, influencing elections against you.

This added element is where Tropico truly shines, after playing against others it's hard to imagine going back to the isolated times where all it took was manipulation of the other AI elements.

The Tropico franchise has always been a fun investment of time, but Tropico 5 offers more hooks than any other installment before it. Previously Haemimont quietly allowed you the chance to fail, but now it boisterously throws failure in your face and dares you to avoid each and every one. Too many slip ups and it's right back to the Colonial Time Era to work your way back up again.

Never before has that cycle of victory and defeat sounded so very savory to us.

Pros:

  • Multiplayer
  • More depth than ever
  • Dynasties

Cons:

  • Easy to besmirch your efforts.

A PC copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review.