by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
“Before I begin, have you played a Tropico game before?”
“No,” I answered, slightly ashamedly.
“That is the wrong answer,” replied Bisser Dyankov, one of the lead developers on Tropico 5. However, over the next hour that turned out not to matter, as it contained a wonderfully in depth presentation about all things Tropico. I was also shown where the latest outing in the franchise is going. Hint: it’s expanding pretty heavily.
You play as El Presidente in this ‘politically incorrect’ city building game, where you must do anything and everything to stay in power. The original game, released in 2001, was meant as a mockery of the Cuban revolution. For the first time in the series, Tropico 5 will be expanding through the ages. Starting as early as the Colonial Era, you will progress through the World Wars, the Cold War, and right up to modern times. If you’re thinking that all the conflict you will be going through will make Tropico a darker game, think again. It still does a very good job of not taking itself too seriously.
The time progression won’t just be about aesthetic changes. Each new era will bring about a new gameplay experience. For example, the military fort you built in colonial times will be very successful at repelling invaders, but as weaponry and military tactics change, the building will become less and less useful. But, you have options. You could demolish it and turn it into something else, like a historical tourist attraction to bring in some extra cash. Time will also affect the varying AI factions. For example, religion will have a strong influence in the World Wars, with armies turning to God to help them overcome this period of extreme hardship. Investing everything in religion will only work for a few generations though, as modern era citizens won’t have as much interest in turning to deities.
Of course, war is nothing without battles. Tropico 5 will be introducing battle simulation, albeit only a light version, certainly when compared with other strategy games. The developers wanted to keep the core of the game about city building, and managing economy and politics. The option for battles is there, but won’t play a huge role. You will simply control your armies using a squad system, giving them priorities like attacking or defending certain buildings.
Another huge introduction is multiplayer. Up to four players will be able to cooperate or compete on one island, and to accommodate the islands are bigger this time round. A kind of fog of war will also be in place (in single player too), meaning you won’t just be able to look around the island at the start and know exactly how you will expand for the rest of the game. You will have to explore for yourself, and use what you have at your disposal.