City Building games are tough to put on a controller. With so many options, menus and micromanagement, it can be insanely frustrating trying to manage everything while having the city consistently improve. Now, imagine all of the control concerns on top of it not only being a city builder but you are the leader of that location with your own agendas. Welcome to the beautiful island of Tropico. But don’t worry, everything works great on a controller.
Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition is out now on Xbox One by Haemimont Games. As I’ve stated, the game’s unique selling point is that you not only build up your city and manage everything that goes with that but there is an entire political aspect to the game as you build or destroy relationships with other nations. The island must continuously grow and improve but you must also stay in power and increase your own personal wealth. This underhandedness is what makes Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition so much fun to play.
This brings morality to a game that never really had it before. The ultimate goal was always to grow your land and increase population and overall income for the city. The goal in Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition is to make as much personal wealth as possible while also keeping the population happy. This balance is incredibly engaging as you decide major political situations as to how your island will run in terms of its economy, its religion and even constitutions on issues like who can vote. The balance of looking like a good leader, making decisions for the people while ultimately making every decision to line your own pockets and be absolute scum is so much fun!
As this is still a city-builder at its core, you can expect progression similar to other games of its ilk. As your island notion grows, you will unlock new options for buildings that allow your society to progress. These new buildings also occur as your island moves through the different eras. As the Cold War era gets underway, you will need to build intelligence agencies and other buildings that will gather information. As the eras move though, the older looking buildings really stand out and the age of the island begins to show. While this may put you off, it also is a stark reminder of how things really are – nothing is the same forever.
The biggest drawback of Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition is the lack of feedback information from making decisions. You don’t get a clear sense of how much residents benefit from adding hospitals, or shops. It all really comes down to ticking off the needs of any given area. The game doesn’t end should your city run out of funds with no way of recovery. You could be doing well, building your back account up but if you do too much wrong on your people and they take notice and start a revolution to overthrow you, things can get pretty bad. As soon as you are out of office, it’s Game Over.
Maybe the most interesting mode going forward could be the Multiplayer. In this mode you work alongside other island nations being played by other players. You can choose to cooperate or compete with one another to thrive. You can work together as a team, setting up trading or you can send spies over to see what they’re doing. It’s incredibly exciting to see how this may develop over time.
From the over-exaggerated voice acting and the tropical soundtrack to the sleazy-nature of your decisions and overall unique feel, Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining city-builders there are out there. The visuals are pleasant as the sun shines on tropical shores and that distinct cultural vibe is felt everywhere you look. Being corrupt has never been so satisfying in a video game.
All hail el Presidente. 4/5.
Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition at CeX
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