When you see Kalypso Media publishing a title you know that it will ooze quality and quantity at the same time. I was gobsmacked when I recently learned that the Tropico series spans two decades now. The most recent addition launched a little over 18 months ago, but I felt it is well worthy of a review this far along the path. Tropico 6 entered Xbox as a “Game Preview” title. This gives developers and publishers the flexibility to launch their game before fully finished and to allow time to iron out the kinks.
Now if you’re not familiar with Tropico, but love real-time strategy and building sim-type games, then you’re in for a real treat. Tropico 6 is a construction, management, and political simulation title developed by Limbic Entertainment and published by Kalypso Media. Now, if you have played the previous titles, then you’ll have some idea of your expectations, and this game will match them perfectly if you enjoyed them in the past. At the time of writing, it has been nominated for several awards and is the fastest-selling game in the franchise eclipsing Tropico 5 with 50% more revenue. El Presidente is back!
Has much changed though?
You may or may not know that Tropico previously was restricted to one sizable map. Tropico 6 introduces the opportunity to build on an archipelago of smaller islands. Some are clusters and others are larger islands more spread apart. The new introduction offers new ways to build and set out your infrastructure. You can build bridges, construct tunnels, and set up more transport options for your citizens. Taxis, buses, and cable cars are now added to the game. This allows the community to choose between varied public transport when moving around the new island options.
Tropico 6 boasts a newly revised research system focusing on the political aspect of becoming the world’s greatest dictator of all time. For you players with online friends at hand, there are also co-operative and competitive modes for up to 4 players. I have to admit that when I first fired up Tropico 6 it felt identical to the most recent Tropico 5. However, after indulging in some serious hours, you start to see the new additions and experience a new way of playing this series.
Be ready to consume hours of your life!
Now if you’re a newcomer to Tropico then I highly recommend working through the tutorials. These will introduce you to the basic controls and show how to navigate the plethora of options. The tutorial missions go much deeper than just the basics. You’ll have guidance in how to manage the population and their interests, how to trade, and much more. If you’ve ever played games like Rollercoaster Tycoon you’ll remember that you can click on individuals. Once clicking on a person you’re able to see their hunger, health, and happiness. There is rich and detailed information on residents in your personal Tropico playthrough.
As you progress through the tutorials, they become more involved with handling situations thrown at you off the cuff. You’re then left to deal with those scenarios but with clean and tidy information to refer to if you get stuck. Even seasoned veterans of the Tropico series will possibly want to indulge in the tutorial missions to sample a taste of new features. You’ll instantly notice the separate islands rather than one map and it threw me at first. It was a real welcome addition though as you’re now more committed to linking these clusters of land and managing them all. Luckily they have also added in a feature where you can flick between each island instantly. This allows you to focus on areas quicker than specifically zooming in and out.
Once you’re done and dusted with the tutorials, then the choice is yours. There are 15 campaign missions to work your way through or 41 maps to choose from in sandbox mode. This isn’t even factoring in the downloadable content that can be purchased at your convenience. We will come on to that later in the review. What I feel is truly unique about Tropico is the ability to choose your fate. Do you decide you are honest, upfront, and attempt to be a well-respected outstanding Presidente? Or be outrageously corrupt, squeezing the life and soul of the civilians without them batting an eyelid? Sounds great fun doesn’t it?
Build your community the way you want
Now in terms of the building mechanics and aspects, there isn’t much new here. You’ll have to satisfy the community with enough residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. There is also the investment of education, shipping, transportation, and more. It is all about balancing what the people want and ensuring they are both happy and healthy. The real fun is in the executive mechanics and manipulation of situations. Will you have people assassinated, bribe others, and generally stick the spanner in the works for others. Are you brave enough to look over your shoulder or deal with the aftermath of your decisions?
The visuals are genuinely stunning on the Xbox Series X with no distortion or slow down when zooming in and out. Everything here is super polished and not a single bug or glitch in sight, which is a rare occasion in games like this. It is a joy to navigate, even using an Xbox controller, and multi-tasking is a breeze. I highly recommend going to the graphics setting immediately and switching from HD to 4k. The difference was like inserting a graphics card in real-time with an instant upgrade. Strangely, the HD setting is default and many won’t even think to check. It is a shame this wasn’t a feature in the start-up process.
The voice acting, soundtrack, and audio effects are all collectively superb. The music is very upbeat but could be irritating to some. A jolly Caribbean theme sets the tone and atmosphere, I felt it adds to the experience. Some of the voice acting is excellent with some quick-witted jesting thrown into the mix. The sound of sea waves, waterfalls, traffic, weather, and more are also absolutely spot on.
I have to admit I was skeptical at first going into Tropico 6 and I’m not sure why. Having played most of the series, I was concerned about the new development team for this instalment. I didn’t want Tropico to lose its identity. Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about with Tropico 6. It echoes the previous titles in every way and adds enhanced visuals with rich and deep vibrancy on next-generation machines. I’ve played many city builders in my years of gaming and Tropico 6 is absolutely at the pinnacle for me.
If you’re a lover of this genre, then Tropico 6 will grant you hundreds of hours of gameplay in its campaign missions alone. Sandbox can add to this experience and be enjoyed with friends online adding immense longevity. If this isn’t enough, then at the time of writing there are 5 pieces of DLC available. Caribbean Skies, The Llama of Wall Street, Spitter, and Lobbyistico are now on the market for purchase.
These pieces of DLC will add even more missions, sandbox maps, gameplay mechanics, music, and customisation options. Would I recommend this? One hundred per cent. I would urge anyone to buy this hugely addictive, entertaining, life-consuming beauty of a game. El Presidente gets my vote every day of the week!