Tropico 6 pushes the boundaries of city building

Benjamin Levin, CNN Underscored
Updated Sun October 6, 2019

The people of Tropico are in need of El Presidente once again. Take the reins of the Caribbean island of Tropico and build beautiful thriving cities teeming with industry, culture and tourism. Run your city as a benevolent leader or a greedy dictator; just make sure you're reelected.

Tropico 6: El Prez Edition is available for preorder on PS4 and Xbox One for $59.99, the game launches on October 8. It's available on PC for $42.99 now. The game launches on October 8. This game will challenge your skills as a leader and a planner, but it is not your typical city builder. Prepare for a wild and humorous ride through paradise as you try to balance the desires of the Tropicans and the success of Tropico in story missions, sandbox mode, or on multiplayer. Check out what else we have to say about the game below.

Be the dictator you were born to be

Tropico 6 is a unique city builder with far more than meets the eye. Game sessions take place over four eras: Colonial, World Wars, Cold War and Modern Times. You will be tasked with meeting the needs of your population, the various factions that form in your society, as well as foreign powers. You start as the governor of a British colony, but once you move on to the next era by buying your independence, the world is yours. You must immediately establish an economy. Your main source of revenue starts as farming and mining, but these expand as time goes on. Your constitution will grow in what it covers, and you can issue many different edicts, such as prohibition, labor laws, open carry and many more. To issue these, you must first research the topics using knowledge accrued at structures like libraries and institutes.

This is the tip of the iceberg for Tropico, but what I find most appealing about the game is how complex the balance is between financial and political success, as well as its emphasis on statistics. There are numerous factors that Tropicans desire aside from their political affiliation.

Tropicans, like all people, want to have good jobs, a roof over their heads, access to food and health care, freedom, as well as fun. And, much like all people, Tropicans compare their happiness to their neighbors. Tropicans are constantly comparing the availability of these needs to their availability in the rest of the carribean. If Tropico is lacking, they will leave, and if Tropico is superior, people will move there. There are all sorts of ways to ensure these desires are fulfilled. You can improve health care availability and quality by placing clinics or hospitals near population centers and upgrading their capabilities. You can provide entertainment by building taverns, circuses, theatres and much more. Just keep in mind that there is a socio-economic ladder in Tropico, and most people won't be able to afford the more luxurious services.

To keep an eye on these desires, you can use your almanac. This book contains statistics on every aspect of your island. From here, you can check on revenue or you can discover ways to cut homelessness and unemployment.

Tropico is a game about being a leader. Whether or not you are kind to your people is up to you! You can employ various strategies to suppress and undermine your people's freedoms and milk them for every dime they're worth. For one thing, your adviser gives you the option to rig the election every year. You can even mandate, via your constitution, that Tropicans vote for you, even if they don't want to. There are edicts that impose martial law or create military police. You can also set buildings to have more hazardous, but more productive work modes. Inevitably, these strategies may cause rebellions and revolts, but those are easily quelled if you don't care about your people's well being.

Politics of Tropico

During each era, you will be faced with a set of groups, both internal and external, which vie for your attention, and you must appease them to maintain your popularity. For example, during the World Wars era, the internal groups consist of the capitalists, communists, religious and militarists. Each of these groups, which contain citizens of varying degrees of loyalty, have preferences for the kinds of projects you start and decisions you make. Communists enjoy when you build public works like schools, clinics and museums. They also enjoy projects like free housing and surveillance, but dislike things like theocracy and paid health care.

From time to time, you will receive requests from different factions, usually to build certain buildings. Sometimes, you will receive two requests from different factions and will have to choose between them, resulting in a loss of support from the unchosen. If you manage to anger a faction enough, it will give you an ultimatum. Failing to fulfill this will cause a terrible consequence. In the case of the communists, workers under the party will go on strike for one year (except those at fire stations and military facilities). Naturally, these political parties are composed of citizens, so your actions regarding these parties will directly affect your public opinion and the elections. And if you lose an election, you lose the game.

In addition, there are external groups, i.e., the world powers of the era. To continue with the World Wars example, these groups include the allies and the axis powers. A major step you take during this era is acquiring an embassy and assigning a representative from one of the two powers. Essentially, you must join one side while suffering the disdain of the other, which can sometimes result in military repercussions. Much of the favor you earnwill be in the form of establishing trade relations with your preferred ally. The political aspects of this game, especially internal affairs, were a large part of what I found so challenging and fun about Tropico 6.

Bottom line

Tropico 6: El Prez Edition takes the classic aspects of city builders and throws in a host of features that take things to the next level. I've never had this much fun with a city building game, thanks in large part to the level of complexity of Tropican society. The political factions of each era kept me on my toes as I attempted to balance their needs with the financial success of Tropico. Along with pressure from world powers and my drive to modernize Tropico, I found myself enamored by Tropico 6: El Prez Edition.

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