City building games have never been my forte. Sure, I recently bought into the hype and played Frostpunk, but came away from that experience feeling more depressed about the future than anything else. I’ve also tried out Surviving Mars, but that game was far too tedious for my liking.
The Tropico series has always seemed interesting to me because of its setting. Being able to rule your own socialist nation as an authoritarian, iron-fisted leader (with heavily comedic undertones) has got drama and sarcasm written all over it. So, when I’d heard that Kalypso Media recently released Tropico 6, which many fans of the series have lauded as the deepest, most intricately designed title in the series so far, I dove right in.
During my first few gaming sessions with Tropico 6, I realized that instead of managing some far-off science fiction colony, such as in the futuristic city-builders I’ve played in the past, the modern day backdrop that Tropico 6 is nestled in seemed more immediate, and therefore more immersive.
Tropico 6 is also the first game in the long-running franchise to offer totally separate landmasses. This means that you’ll have to build bridges over the new waterways which divide your islands if you choose to play on such maps, especially if you want to gather their resources. You can also create roadways which tunnel right through particularly steep hills and mountains, so that your docile citizenry can drive their vehicles through them and access previously restricted areas.
Speaking of citizens, in another departure from previous Tropico games, you can now zoom all the way down to the street level and inspect each and every one of them if you so desire. You can find out what each one is currently thinking, inspect their statistics, and more. It’s a nice touch that is obviously designed to make the game more of an immersive experience, instead of just overseeing mindless drones.
There’s a main “Missions” mode which can offer you many different sorts of—you guessed it—missions of varying difficulty (gasp). These can be any number of things, such as exporting weapons to other countries, or issuing edicts and disseminating propaganda to the masses. But I feel that the real fun to be had in Tropico 6 is its popular “Sandbox” mode. Sandbox allows (for me at least) for more freedom to build and design things the way that you want to. Random events can also pop up and will keep you on your toes, especially when you get a little too comfortable.
You’ll have to keep track of both political rivals and your island paradise’s various faction leaders. Some will pester you and steer you towards matters that fit their different agendas. These things may include stuff like building a certain type of building or some sort, or some kind of attraction, while others may be concerned with importing or exporting special items.
Graphically, Tropico 6 is a splendid sight to behold. You’ll see beautiful vistas from mountain tops, all the way down to lush tropical forests, with little thatch-roofed huts that dot the beaches which lead out from them.
The musical aspects of the game are also very impressive. You’ll hear lots of Latin-flavored tunes that not only fit the game’s visuals, but also elevate the mood and further immerse you in the whimsical, gleefully enjoyable (yet often brutal) proceedings.
Although Tropico 6 plays out in real time, it does have that all-absorbing “one-more-turn” aspect to it. During my time with it, I began gaming sessions saying to myself that I’ll only play for an hour or so, and before I knew it wound up spending whole evenings managing my little socialist sandboxes. It’s the first city building and management game that I’ve actually enjoyed playing, and I’m really looking forward to future content.
Tropico 6 features some pretty nice looking graphics that make its city management gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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