The Tropico series has always been a goofball underdog in the realm of strategy games. While it’s never reached the colossal heights of other series like Civilization, it’s remained a humble, but very light-hearted strategy game. With its lack of seriousness in addressing totalitarian government rule, the game has earned itself a cult following and has become one of the best received franchises from its publisher Kalypso. After a solid success with Tropico 4 in 2011, developers Haemimont Games are pushing themselves even further by refining the series’ trademark mechanics like production and retaining power, but also going in fresh new directions for the series including expansive chronological eras, improved trade interfaces, and in a first for the series, multiplayer. Tropico 5 flaunts its ambition and it’s looking to be another solid entry in the series.
The most prominent progression for the series in Tropico 5 is the introduction of cooperative and competitive multiplayer, allowing up to four players on a single island. Your relations with your fellow island presidentes can be either tame or volatile, since players can choose to combine their resources and workforces to help each other out, or stockpile resources to weed each other out (which can even escalate to player vs. player war). The amount of required coordination between neighboring rulers is not yet clear, but the feature remains as an optional selection, which could allow the series to dodge the pitfalls of 2013’s ill-fated SimCity, a game where the multiplayer practically required you to coordinate with fellow players, even if you didn’t want or need to.
With a timeline ranging from the 19th century to the 21st, Tropico 5 aims to expand the more chronological perks into more meaningful forms. Each era from colonial to modern time offers fresh new advancements in the form of research. The new research aspect is another major step for the series, allowing for new technologies to improve production, defense, among other key factors to ruling your people. El Presidente can also die, offering his place of power to extended family members, prolonging the rule throughout the years. The fascinating new features definitely emphasize longevity and experimentation over time, which will hopefully keep that dynamic nature alive into each round’s endgame as well.
Tropico has steadily grown from humble beginnings to a cult hit among strategy fans, and Tropico 5 looks to overhaul the entire game both gameplay-wise and aesthetically, with fresh new mechanics and all-new art designs respectively. The tongue-in-cheek humor that has permeated the series continues, and with new aesthetics and lineages, the game’s goofy approach to totalitarian rule continues with a blissful stride. Tropico 5’s ambitious concpet of multiplayer and steady evolution of its game mechanics look to invigorate this series even further beyond its predecessor. If you’re a strategy fan, Tropico 5 is worth keeping an eye on.
Tropico 5 will be releasing on Xbox 360, PC, Mac and Linux this summer, with a PlayStation 4 version in the works for release later on in 2014.