Tropico5 Screens April 2nd 2014 11 copy

Kalypso and Haemimont Games has brought us the latest edition of the dictator simulator with Tropico 5. The Tropico series is a civilization building simulator, well known for its tongue in cheek approach to “banana republics” and topics such as totalitarianism, colonization, and interference from super powers into the Third World. I have never played a Tropico game, not being a huge fan of the “civilization builder” type games, so I have no point of reference in what is better or different with Tropico 5 versus the older versions of this same game. However, I can say that I really enjoyed my time with Tropico 5, and now plan to keep a closer eye on this series in the future.


The story for Tropico 5 begins when you are handed a colony from the crown to govern for a set number of years. As you govern, you are brought little story points that you have to make decisions about and who to support. Like many civilization builder games, the story line isn’t one of strict narrative, but of implied narrative based on your current objectives or goals. The overall story follows you, El Presidente, and your family from colonial governor into the 21st century.

For the most part, the story in the campaign mode is fairly forced upon you. You have to become independent before your contract is up with the crown or you do not move onto the next series of quests. This will limit your decision making somewhat in the campaign, since you will have to support the revolutionaries in order to claim your independence, but when you support them is up to you. I have been able to utilize the crown’s resources all the way up to the very last moment before declaring my independence, thus building a more solid and structured country before moving on. The story works well enough for the game type, just don’t expect a sweeping drama to unfold as you rule your little island.

Tropico5 Screens April 2nd 2014 09 copy

Game Play

The game play for Tropico 5 is where all the action is at. At the heart of Tropico 5’s campaign mode, you must complete a set of objectives in order to move onto the next set of objectives, and the next time period. The early game play revolves around setting up your island with the help of the crown. You must reach a certain popularity with the revolutionaries and declare your independence before your mandate runs out. Along the way, there are certain quests in which you can participate in, which can either increase your popularity with a certain faction, increase your personal bank account, or increase your mandate giving you more time before the crown removes you.

As you build up your island, you have many choices to make with the direction of how you want your country to progress. Tropico 5 is full of different types of buildings that you can create, with different items to research for each time period. Each building then also has many different ways to customize the output, resources, and workforce for each building. Building a ranch, for example, will allow you to choose what type of animal you are raising for resources, how much money you want to put into that resource for development, and what manager you want running the ranch, which will give you bonuses or negatives depending on the manager.

Resource gathering is one of the most important game play elements in Tropico 5, and the game gives you many opportunities to do so. You can begin by exploring your island for natural resources. This will include mines, oil, and artifact that can be utilized for tourism. You can also see a grid system that will help you plant other resource gathering buildings more efficiently. You will also be able to create and change your trade routes with other countries and pirates to find more buyers for your goods.

Tropico 5 also has a multi-player mode to go along with the single player campaign mode. The multi-player mode can be either cooperative or competitive, whatever strikes your fancy at that time. Up to four players can play on a single island, building your own cities, competing for resources, working together to build a civilization, or to declare war on each other.

Tropico5 Screens April 2nd 2014 12 copy


The aesthetics for Tropico 5 is really what made the game for me. The art direction for the visuals is fantastic and fits the humor very well. It is on the cartoonish side of art, but I feel that the direction works fantastic for the game. The island is very detailed in its visuals, and you can zoom into each area to really get a sense of the detail that was put into the art direction. You can change the appearance of all of your characters, from El Presidente all the way down your familial chain.

Tropico 5’s audio is also very well designed and the game is fully voiced by actors. The actors all give the appropriate accents for the nationality that they are representing, though they are a little bit more stereotypical then reality. I can forgive that here, since the game takes many of the qualities of these nations and exaggerates them just a bit, to create a distinct aesthetic. The music is fantastic and really puts the player in the tropical mindset. Both the visuals and the audio work so well together to bring Tropico 5 to life.

Final Thoughts

Tropico 5 is the first Tropico game that I have played, and I am now aware of what I was missing. Tropico 5 is a great game that is not only fun, but also challenging as you get passed the early campaign levels. The game play is solid and deep, giving you control over many aspects of the lives of your subjects, and each building can me maintained and ran to your choosing. The extra stress of the mandate running out during the colonial period was a fun way of having a clock to race against, and I love how each time period brought in new challenges and sets of items and buildings to research and build. Tropico 5 is a great game that is a must-play for anyone that is interested in this type of game. Tropico 5 is available now on Steam.

[easyreview title=”Product Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]


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John "Judgeman" Dugan is a long time contributor and Gaming Shogun's resident fighting game expert. Judgeman has appeared on G4's Arena, including season 1's Tournament of Champions, and was a regular in the early days of Street Fighter 2 tournaments.