Tropico 5 review: You say you want a revolution

No fluff. Let's get straight to the point.

Tropico 5 is the most fun I've had with the Tropico​ franchise. 

Though I've seen it all before, the changes that were made to the game completely won over by the island music, the beach, the palm trees, and the simple life of plantation workers that yearn to retire to the tavern at the end of the day to drink a banana rum and orange juice. But behind the scenes of this tropical paradise is your dictator, pulling the strings and making trades, giving you complete control over how your develop your island country. Are you going to be a harsh tyrant who charges his people for food and has the island run in a police state? Or are you going to go the democratic route and give your people the right to vote for the best man? Or woman. I'm all for equal rights. 

Tropico 5 doesn't deviate from the path that got it to where it is. Haemimont Games and Kalypso Media take the excellent city-building and political humor that fans love, and have added a multiplayer mode that doesn't suck. Unlike some other city-building games I can think of…

Tropico 5 starts your dictator off in a small town with lots of potential on a tropical island. While you're the Crown's b*tch at first, the goal is to start a revolution. You do this by gaining the people's support through a series of quests and decisions thrown your way, while also acting as a tutorial. Research things like a military fort in the tech tree as you increase your population and earn new buildings. This also ties into Eras, which controls progress and pacing through different time periods. For instance, you won't be able to research a lot of things until you get to the Cold War, which you do by reaching certain milestones. You start out in the colonial period, and as you progress, you go through World Wars, the Cold War, and a Great Depression. It's great in campaign, but also gives a sense of purpose to Sandbox mode. The downside of this that it breaks up how invested you are during the campaign, since variety is stressed so much. You jump around quite a bit. 

tropico 5

Past the basic tutorial, Tropico 5 really doesn't hold your hand. You'll still get some guidance, but you're mostly left to seek out higher level information on your own. Playing past Tropico games will definitely help. Like the past games in the series, there's a ton going on; it could feel a bit overwhelming to newcomers. 

Seeing as how Tropico 5 starts around a Revolution, you would think the combat system would get a big boost. Unfortunately, it's the weakest element in the game. You can set your units to prioritize different places in the city, but that's all the control you get. I'm not asking for combat like Total War, but a little more meat to the combat would be nice. 

The big addition to the game is the four-player multiplayer. The island is inhabited by four players who, through a light fog of war, can see map features like mines. As you each build up and explore, you'll have to decide whether you want to work with or against the players, and which ones you want to help or destroy. Will you have trade agreements? Or will you invade another player's city? I like that it gives you the option to play with other players how you want. It takes the same approach to the single player as it does multiplayer. And it works — unlike a certain city sim. ***cough cough***

Tropico 5 is an improvement in many areas to its predecessor. While the combat irks me, the game stays true to itself while making solid steps forward. The music, visuals and comedy keep that vibrant Tropico vibe, while the addition of eras for tiered progress make the game fresh. Add in a first iteration of multiplayer mode — that will undoubtedly evolve in future Tropico​ installments — and you have some great replay value for friends. Now excuse me, I have a revolution to oversee. 

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at [email protected]