|Alt names||Тропико 2: Пиратский Остров, Tropico 2: Zatoka Piratów, Tropico 2: La Baie des Pirates, Tropico 2: La Bahía de los Piratas, Tropico 2: Die Pirateninsel, Tropico 2: A Baía dos Piratas|
|Theme||City Building / Construction Simulation, Managerial, Real-Time, Sea Pirates / Caribbean|
|Perspective||Isometric, Bird’s-eye view, Free-roaming camera|
|Released in||United States|
|Publisher||Gathering of Developers, Inc.|
|Developer||Frog City Software, Inc.|
Description of Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
About two years ago, Poptop Software released a quirky banana republic management game called Tropico. Praised widely for its characterful presentation and fantastic Lou Bega soundtrack, it has now thankfully spawned a sequel. This time, it’s developed by Frog City Games (the people behind the Imperialism games). Rather than Tropico’s roughly contemporary Fidel Castro setting, Tropico 2 steps back to the 17th Century, but maintains the same rough geographical location, being set in a pirate-filled Caribbean Sea. If you’ve ever wanted to rule a desert island, Tropico 2 might well be the game for you. The player takes the role of a pirate king, with an island economy based on captive slave labour and geared towards satisfying the many needs of your pirate subjects, these being chiefly food, alcohol, wenches, tobacco and firearms. What more is there to life, we wonder? You can build ships and send your pirate crews out to terrorise the Spanish Main, preying on the English, Spanish or French ships passing through the area or raiding their settlements. Supplying these needs is done through a set of two or three-step manufacturing processes, with each step in the process needing its own purpose-built building and its own slave labour. Wood, for example, is cut down from your island’s forests at a timber camp, then must be taken to a sawmill where it is made into planks, whereupon it becomes available for building new structures, making cannons, or constructing ships. Resources like corn, sugar and tobacco are grown on farms, which also need captives to staff them. In total, there are around ten of these processes, ten corresponding types of manufactured goods and somewhere in the region of thirty buildings associated with their production and distribution. Tropico 2 is nothing if not varied. Most of these goods need to be taken to some sort of distribution point before they can be used. Beer (made from corn) and tasty fruit pastries (made from papaya and banana) are taken to the bar for your pirates to enjoy. Entertainment buildings come in many varieties, with different combinations of goods available, each aimed at a particular rank of pirate. The richer and more experienced they get, the more discerning their tastes become. There are also a wide variety of edicts available for you to impose on your population. These cover all sorts of eventualities, and provide everything from ways for you to keep control of your population (by ordering random executions or throwing a party for your pirates) to making peace with other nations. All these are well explained in the game’s excellent informational boxes – there’s no guessing about the possible positive or negative implications of an edict. Ships can be sent on a number of different missions to any part of the Caribbean. Early missions will be likely to be mostly scouting trips, or raids on settlements to gather captives – later missions might focus on abducting skilled workers like shipwrights or engineers, or cruising an area looking for ships to attack. Sometimes you’ll happen upon a ship full of wealthy travellers, who can be ransomed for money. More powerful ships are expensive and time-consuming to construct, but can spend longer away from port and carry more weapons. Seeing as pirates seem to be quite en vogue at present, Tropico 2’s release is certainly timely. Thankfully, the new theme manages to be just as endearing as the original game’s. Your pirates swagger about the island full of personality, and the captives have an appropriately hangdog look to them, too. Like the earlier game (and others, such as The Sims) you can click on a person and get a list of their recent thoughts, which can often help pin down problems in your island’s management. Your island can be viewed from one of seven levels of zooms, and rotated to your pleasure. The closest level of zoom reveals a lot of detail on the island’s buildings and scenery, but it’s impractical to actually play from that view, as most buildings will span several screen widths. Somewhat oddly, the ships are the only graphical elements that don’t have purpose-built graphics in this closest view, making do with a blocky rescaling. As the ships are one of the visual highlights of the game, it’s a shame not to be able to get really up close. Although there’s no Lou Bega soundtrack, its replacement is nearly as good. It doesn’t quite have the same impact on the atmosphere, but its folksy, calypso feel is very pleasant nonetheless. Voice clips, of which there are many, are liberally sprinkled with piratical sayings. Tropico 2 presents the player with a number of different ways to approach its gameplay. There is a campaign, which presents a series of missions with specific goals, gradually ramping up the difficulty and the number of buildings and options open to you. There’s also a selection of canned scenarios, and a sandbox mode where you can develop your island free from constraint. The campaign progresses in difficulty well, and does a good job of presenting Tropico 2’s subtleties — the many, many subtleties — to players. You can even stash gold away to take to the next level with you. The interface, sadly, is Tropico 2’s weakest area. Its log book presentation of facts and figures regarding your island is impressively complete, but although it’s possible to interact with some elements of the book, it locks out the rest of the interface while it’s open. Some common actions — like ransoming all the wealthy captives on the island — require several non-intuitive steps, and aren’t well documented. Some desirable options, like being able to specify exactly which pirates crew your ships, don’t seem to be possible at all. Also, although many of the issues the original game had have been fixed, and the setting for the game is totally different, it’s still a little hard to shake the feeling that we’ve been here before. This isn’t exactly unusual for a game of this type, though, as there’s only so much you can do with the concept – but if the first game turned you off, don’t expect to be grabbed by the second. These problems aside, Tropico 2 certainly bears the key mark of a well-constructed Sim-type game – it steals time, and its players will be guaranteed some late nights. Balancing all the production chains with the needs of your population can be tricky, but building a successful economy is very rewarding. There’s plenty of depth to the gameplay, and there’s tons of scenarios to play, plus the sandbox mode, so it ought to keep you going for ages. Tropico 2 should please fans and new players alike.
Review By GamesDomain
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