On the day that Tropico 5 releases on the Xbox One in its ‘penultimate edition’, the original PC release is exactly two years old. It came out on the Xbox 360 in 2014 as well, so how does it play on Microsoft’s latest console? Here’s our review.
First off, this isn’t the exact same game that came out back in 2014. For the penultimate edition, Kalypso has included no less than five add-ons as well as a couple of Xbox One-exclusive sandbox maps. Obviously the controls have been tweaked to fit the Xbox One controller, but this is mostly a change that was already implemented in the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Still, despite all the time that has gone by, Tropico is a welcome addition to the Xbox One roster – it’s a library of games that doesn’t have too many strategy/city building games in it, and Tropico has already earned its reputation on other platforms. For those who are not familiar with the franchise, Tropico is all about dictatorship and controlling a tropical colony by (almost) any means necessary. As any good dictator will tell you, part of the job includes using government funds to line your own pockets, and of course making short work of any potential uprisings.
The examples above are a tad satirical in nature, and Tropico does have that tone about it – but there’s a surprisingly deep political, economic and infrastructural simulator behind it all. There are tons of options to micromachine your little tropical slice of heaven, and therefore a bunch of different ways the game can play out – the expansions that are included in the Xbox One version only multiply those numbers, so you’re getting excellent replayability and value for money here. It’s a lot of fun to play but held back a tiny bit by not being as streamlined as, say, Cities: Skylines.
Perhaps it’s part of a dictator’s life to “always know best”, but Tropico (as a game) could use some more/better advisors to help you manage your little empire. Without them, you’re sometimes guessing as to what’s causing your problems and how you might solve them, resulting in a bit of trial and error. Games like Civilization have done this very well for over two decades without spoiling the game for you by making it feel too easy, so it’s something we missed in Tropico.
Tropico certainly isn’t the best looking Xbox One game out there, but no sacrifices were made when porting from the PC and everything runs very smoothly – even when things get busy. This happens naturally, as you build up your empire from colonial times all the way up to the present day and future (although – as with real life dictatorships – you’ll probably end up looking like you’re at least partly stuck in the past).
If you’re a former player of similar titles and a present day Xbox One owner, then you’ll definitely enjoy Tropico 5’s Penultimate Edition. Not just because of a lack of choice in the genre, but also because (for the most part) it’s a very competently designed game that’s unique in its setting and offers a wealth of content for Xbox One owners.