El presidente is back! Tropicans can rejoice, or bemoan. Tropico 6 has hit the PlayStation 4's digital shelves, and the game that gives you the chance to run your island paradise with the iron fist of military rule, or build a communist stronghold, is here once more.
This review is looking at the PS4 version of the game. The controls have been well adapted to make it easy to use on the controller. Most of the controls feel pretty intuitive and after going through the tutorials we felt more than capable. All of the building menus are in a 'wheel' that you can open up using the triangle button. If you want to build multiples of the same building, press square rather than X. That said, it did feel a little clumsy that the wheel including edicts research menus were on the L2 button.
The joy of playing a game like this on the PS4 is you never have to worry if your hardware is up to scratch and we're pleased to say the game runs rather smoothly and looks great. We don't have as many of this type of game on the PS4 as our PC counterparts, and this will be a pleasing addition to the collection of any fan of the city builder, even if it is a little too similar to Tropico 5.
Elsewhere, Tropico 6 delivers a great new entry into the series, however, we did have a few bugbears with it, so let's get to it. It kind of feels like a 'greatest hits' with a few new features bolted on, rather than something totally new, first of all.
The Tropico series has been running for nigh on 15 years and in many ways it still has the same look yoo. An island paradise that looks to be set in the Caribbean, taking charge of a dictator, that looks bearded... and it's kind of Cuba. The issue we have is that maybe after six games, the basic idea unchanging, the formula might be getting a little tired.
For those new to the series, you lead your island from the colonial era to the modern times, dealing with factions, elections, foreign powers, invasions, and a tricky economic system in what makes the Tropico series feel somewhat homely every time you pick up the new entry.
You start off by building plantations and ranches, selling your goods off to foreign nations, and end up building nuclear power plants and worrying about tourists needs and happiness. It's a long road, but a satisfying one.
Tropico 6 sees the inclusion of a lot of the buildings that were available in the DLC, with the single island maps gone and replaced with archipelagos where you must build tunnels and bridges to connect multiple islands. The bigger your realm gets, the more you have to stretch, and it adds an interesting dynamic to the experience. You really have to think about position of housing and amenities, including bus routes, to help your Tropicans move about freely. There's also some familiar faces from previous outings popping up to give advice and missions. The multiple islands were a selling point, but it feels like there should have been more in the game.
There is also the option to steal wonders like Stonehenge or the Statue of Liberty, which act as tourist traps, and seemed to have some abilities, but it didn't add too much more to our experience. One thing we did like though was the research tree that allows you to explore upgrades for buildings and new edicts. It worked well, but for all the new features, we still felt like we needed something more.
Tropico 6 is made up of some stand-alone missions that each have quests. Some of these are pretty fun, with missions like a pirate base where you have to build multiple pirate caves to plunder the oceans. The missions themselves were self-contained and did offer some interesting objectives such as smuggling gold inside coconuts.
The most fun will be had in the sandbox mode which can be played on some set maps, or a map that you generate. You can set your own parameters such as starting money, frequency of disasters, and your own winning conditions. It effectively offers endless hours of gameplay, and for some like us who sank hours into Tropico 5, it just felt like more of the same in a good and bad way. Good that we knew where we stood, but bad in the fact that it was just too much more of the same. That, however, does not make it a bad game. We loved playing it, but it feels like a missed opportunity and a lesson to be learned for number 7.
We found the economic system a little on the confusing side at first, with our Presidente losing money and seemingly unable to pull up from the economic hole we were digging ourselves into. Once we got to grips with it, it seemed a little easier, although things seemed to go wrong for no reason.
One feature that seems to have be missing compared to 5 is the ability to 'turn off' buildings. If you want to export sugar, and you have a rum factory, you can't stop your teamsters filling the factory with sugar. Maybe there is some way around it, but we couldn't work it out other than destroying the factory.
Another bugbear is the road planning. It never seems to go where you want it to. You also can't place short roads and it takes a little bit of trial and error before it looks right.
Graphically the game looks fantastic, with lush greenery, blue seas, and sandy beaches, all of which look just as good on PS4 as PC. The buildings also look great, but we couldn't help but think that it wasn't a huge leap from Tropico 5 that we'd been hoping for.
As for the sounds, the Latin rhythms are back and the music sets the tone of the island perfectly. The radio DJ is also here with commentary on the affairs of the island, but we have to say that we preferred the voice of the radio in number 5.
All in all, what we have is a solid entry into the series. It adds enough to give fans of the series encouragement to get this one, but when Tropico 7 comes along, it might be time for a total overhaul with a new location and theme. That said, if you're new to the franchise, it's definitely something you should be looking at getting.