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Gaming : Tropico 6

Developer: Limbic Entertainment

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Platforms: PC, macOS, Linux, SteamOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The popular phrases “the man is keeping me down” and “stick it to the man” have been around for approximately 100 years, with its true popularity rising around the late 1960s and early 1970s. Resisting the government (either passively or openly) has always been popular. Protests have occurred in almost every country in the world to encourage change in the status quo. The People Power revolutions of 1986 and 2001 are examples close to home, as well as Occupy Wall Street in the United States and the Arab Spring in 2011. But what if, just for a minute, you were “the man” that you swore to resist?

Tropico 6 is classified as a construction, management, and political simulation game rolled into one. While previous editions had you build your own tropical paradise on one island, you can now build across an entire archipelago. Developer Limbic Entertainment (more well known for developing several Heroes of Might & Magic games) came up with the idea because eventually one would run out of room on just one island. This would allow Tropico players to utilize resources available on various islands.

You start as El Presidente, and you can customize your character in a variety of ways as well as your presidential palace. You can choose personality traits for your character which will affect the way El Presidente governs in the game. For instance, choosing to be manipulative will allow you to gain favors from foreign powers more easily. Unlike previous Tropico games, workers actually clock in and out of their jobs, allowing you to rule with an even greater iron fist than before.

Much like SimCity, you have to provide infrastructure for your citizens to become productive members of society. You can set certain policies that favor foreign powers as well as local policies to better (or oppress) the people of Tropico. Each citizen belongs to a faction that you must keep happy, but all of them have different desires. For instance, the Communists favor policies that help the poor, while the Industrialists want to better their own profit-making businesses. Much like a real-life dictator, you can also undermine democracy. You can bribe certain individuals, rig elections, or even take out threats to your rule (and I don’t mean to lunch). On the other side of the coin, you can hold fair elections and make customizable campaign speeches (even if you don’t intend to keep them).

One of the biggest challenges in Tropico 6 is balancing the economy. Much like in real life, the economy is a very complex tool with various mechanisms that may turn even the most stable governments into disasters (some real-life examples include Venezuela or Zimbabwe). There are also missions that you should fulfill with various victory conditions. For instance, if you want crime to drop to virtually zero, you might need to max out your law enforcement budget and build police stations and other law enforcement structures all over your sprawling city. Some missions have interesting restrictions, such as not allowing you to build housing, or even basing your economy on fishing, oil, and tourism because there is no arable land.

Tropico 6 provides great replay value, but finding the balance to keep Tropico stable is much like finding a work-life balance—it may be impossible to do so without sacrificing aspects of either your work or life. However, Tropico 6 keeps the great sense of humor that made past Tropico games enjoyable. If you like games where you can play God or just have the power and control you’ve always wished for, Tropico is the game for you.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE May 2019 Issue