Reviews by limbonic


Not What I Was Hoping For...

limbonic | June 8, 2014 | Review of Tropico 5

First off: I did not even touch the multiplayer part, so I am not going to comment on that. From what I have heard, it does not run all too well, so I guess I am not missing out on any possibly redeeming aspect. I am a long-time fan of the Tropico franchise and had a lot of fun with 3 and 4.

Tropico 5 introduces some interesting new mechanics, which sounded cool at first: For example, there is the ability to fight. Disappointingly, this boils down to building some Barracks, Army Bases and other Military sites, since you cannot really control anything significant during an invasion of your island. Your soldiers move out automatically (following the same annoying pathing that also causes Teamster's Office hickups), the only thing you can specify are priorities (works just as fine as with Construction Offices - for which I would have to be in a super-sarcastic mood to call it good).

Then, there is a tech-tree which you can research subsequently using research points generated by various buildings (Libraries, Colleges, you get the idea). The main flaw in tech-progression probably is the fact that you get your hands on most interesting things rather late in the game (but at that point at an incredibly high rate). Have an airport? Well, that's cool, some minutes later, you will be able to build a luxory version of aforementioned. You can destine managers to your production facilities in order to boost efficiency or grant other boni to the laborforce and or building's vicinity. As far as I understand, these managers don't level up (even though a star rating is visible for all of them), unless they are one of your heirs (which you can upgrade spending money from your swiss bank account). However, character progression is not as fun as in e.g. Tropico 3, since the traits are kept very basic in Tropico 5.

I have never seen Tropico as a hard-core simulation but rather a feel-good game. Earlier titles did achieve exactly that. Tropico 5, however, does not. Not only because the additions in terms of gameplay mechanics neither feel well thought out nor turn out to be interesting in any way. It is more, because the current iteration offers little to no feedback. Also the prequels did not show all too detailed information on what's wrong or doing well on your island, but this time, the lack of feedback reaches an annoyingly high level: Imagine, you are on a campaign mission, trying to accomplish a specific task when an election comes up. No problem, you think, my supporters greatly outnumber the critics. 1-2 months in the election phase, your ratings suddenly drop from ~60% to 45% - time to act! Opening the score overview, you however notice that all your ratings are well above 50% - too bad, so take a trip into the blue and build a Cathedral, a Hospital and some Entertainment buildings (all that using "quick construct" and taking a money penalty scaling with the building's cost, since Tropicans are still utterly incompetent when it comes to building stuff). "Phew" - you tell yourself, seeing the rating passing the magic 50% threshold again. 1 month before election, Autosave hits. Afterwards you are told that only 49% voted for you.

Would this have happend just once playing the career, I would not bother. But things like that keep happening constantly. Even if your island's economy florishes, you provide food through numerous supermarkets, keep crime rates low using police stations, reduce polution,... Problems only rarely amount from a lack of money (you usually have access to some very lucrative products at any point in time, and at a surplus once you reach cold war ages). They result from poor feedback: If you check a police station, an overlay shows you current crime rates. Waste disposal sites show you polution. Religious buildings do not show saturation, neither do supermarkets or hospitals. Then again, Newsstations show a "Liberty"-overlay - is that what you would call consistency? I wouldn't.

...And then, there is bugs. Your game will crash, your game will freeze. Just now, trying to finish the campaign, the game froze, killing the entire progress of that particular mission. Not, that it happens often, but considering other annoyances, this is the tip of the iceberg.

Bottom line: It plays like 3 or 4. It looks a little better than 3 or 4. The music is still nice. The game provides even less feedback than the predecessors. The gameplay additions are not worth it. The campaign is comparably boring. The early ages evolve incredibly slow. Just too many flaws to keep the constant "holiday"-feeling up.