Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Platform: Linux, Mac, Windows (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: 29 March 2019 (PC), 2019 (Consoles)
Price: $49.99 USD/$69.95 AUD – Available Here
It’s time to return to the land of sun, sand, and wild corruption in Tropico 6. Players will lead their small island nation through the colonial era all the way to modern times. The latest addition to the long running city sim franchise builds upon previous titles with overhauled research mechanics, a new archipelago system, new transportation and infrastructure options, and the return of election speeches.
Tropico 6 doesn’t offer the most in-depth story, but each mission does provide a little story scenario to explain the goals of the mission. The writers offer some stinging political satire at times, though they usually stick to more light hearted parody. The humour is rarely subtle, but there’s enough variety that it should elicit a chuckle from most people.
At its core, Tropico 6 is all about ensuring El Presidente is able to stay in power. Players are given the latitude to be the benevolent dictator, the ruthless tyrant, or something in between. To stay in the presidential palace, players need to appease a variety of political groups, foreign powers, and the local population. The people of Tropico have a variety of needs that must be addressed with infrastructure and services, such as economic, health, and happiness. To fund building projects, players will need to create a thriving economy, through production and trade. Of course, players who are less interested in the success of their people can line their Swiss bank accounts with money at the expense of their population. To do so, players have access to a whole bag of dirty tricks to keep their citizens in line and ensure they express their undying loyalty to their dear El Presidente at the ballot boxes.
Tropico 6 is one of the better documented Tropico games since the franchise was rebooted in current form in 3. There are a series of tutorial missions that introduces players to the basic concepts of the game. The player’s grasp of those mechanics is expanded and tested with the missions. Each mission offers a specific set of goals players need to accomplish, allowing players to try their hand at a variety of approaches to the game. Along with mission goals, the game will often give players hints or offer objectives if they seem to be missing a major bit of infrastructure or lagging behind on a major mechanic. There is still room for improvement. Some things like how happiness is calculated is not well explained, leaving players to either figure it out on their own or consult Google.
Tropico 6’s era system gives a game a decent amount of variety as each era will bring new edicts, buildings, economic options, and challenges. For example, the importance of tourism is slightly dampened in 6, as tourism is not an option until in later eras. Each new era helps break up the monotony of previous titles as the additions are often enough for players to have to rejig their set up a bit to respond to changing times.
The economy is rather broad, offering players a good bit of flexibility on how they want to approach the game. The new import/export system offers players an extra boost in income, especially those willing to do a little min/maxing. Some more eclectic gameplay mechanics like pirate raids that were first introduced to the series in DLC packs have now been added to the base game in 6.
The political system is at a good spot, with just enough complexity and impact for players to pay attention without being overwhelming. The new research system gives politics a feeling of progression and paces things out nicely. While domestic politics feels more important due it’s more direct nature, foreign politics still has a role to play as friendly nations can send some much-needed aid and enemies can make life extremely difficult for a player.
One of my biggest issues with Tropico 6 is how difficult managing happiness can be. Happiness with a specific service appears to be calculated as an average of all the building qualities associated with the service. Often times, sorting out problems with low happiness requires players to go back and completely destroy old buildings in favour of more modern ones. Housing and, to a lesser extent, entertainment buildings can be a real pain to manage. The buildings tend to be smaller, so trying to individually weed out the outdated ones or find mismatched occupants can be a frustrating exercise.
The controls for Tropico 6 are good. The menus are well organized in a logical manner. Notifications are actionable, allowing for players to deal with new issues quickly. While the game can be played exclusively with a mouse, Limbic has provided a lot of options for keyboard shortcuts. Most of them are unbound to start with, but power gamer can easily access most features with hotkey if they so desire.
The graphics in Tropico 6 are solid. The game’s art style is cartoony with a bit of realism. The style fits Tropico’s satirical nature well. It’s hard to appreciate Tropico 6’s detail from the god-like view in the sky, but every citizen can be seen going about their daily lives. As a nice touch, there is a good bit of visual customization options available for players who are interested in making Tropico their own.
Tropico 6’s soundtrack is fantastic. It’s packed with Latin and Caribbean music that always sounds like vacations to me. The sound effects are well done, but the voice acting is a bit of a hit or miss. Generally, the voice actors embrace a cheesy B-movie type performance that fits well with Tropico 6’s ridiculous theme. However, there are a few actors that miss the mark and just sound plain bad. I also found the lines for smaller characters to be rather limited. Each faction representative only has a couple of spoken lines to accompany their text requests. Players will definitely hear the same lines over the course of a game considering how much each faction will pester a player.
Tropico 6 is a solid addition to the long running franchise. The game’s audio/visual presentation is solid. It serves as an excellent entry point into the world of simulation games with its tutorial and missions. There are some micromanagement annoyances and missing documentation that hobbles the game a bit, but nothing severe enough to make the game unenjoyable.
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