Ah, the sun soak shores of Tropico. Ah, its rum soaked citizens. As I look out at my sprawling city, filled with happy citizens, banana plantations, sugarcane fields and (of course) rum distilleries, I think to myself, “this place could do with a toy factory”.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Tropico 6 is a tongue-in-cheek city builder, giving players the chance to manager, or more likely, to mismanage, their very own banana republic (complete with bananas!). While the original game was, and is quite a bit of fun (we reviewed it back in our Issue #2), Kalypso clearly felt, in the spirit of El Presidente’s ever helpful aide Penultimo, “why settle for less when you can have more?”, and have been busy releasing a string DLC, with the latest, ‘Caribbean Skies’, bringing the total count up to four.
So, why review one DLC when you can do four? In essence, each add-on expands the number of available toys for players to use in constructing their city, with new buildings, game mechanics, along with a new map, and new mission.
‘The Llama of Wall Street’, as you might guess, adds the ability for players to game the finance market. The new building, the Trade Institute, allows you to manipulate the price of import and export goods – something quite handy, as exports are how you make most of your money. On the other hand, prices are now subject to fluctuation, which can help, or hinder you, and make diversification of your manufacturing more important. To help with this two, new building are included: the Smart Furniture factory, and the Toy Workshop (and who doesn’t like toys, especially when you can set the factory to ‘Toys As A Service’ mode?).
‘Spitter’, on the other hand, turns away from the llama-eat-dog mentality of Wall Street, to cast its satirical gaze upon the world of social media and tourism. Using Tropico’s own app, Spitter, you can read celebrities’ ‘Spits’ and ‘Spit’ on them yourself! (Yes, everything is llama themed.) Liking or disliking a Spit can alter how favourable the various factions are to your regime. After you’ve built essential celebrity infrastructure such as a beauty clinic, rehab facility and luxury villa, you can then use Spitter to befriend shallow celebrities who then help boost the tourism rating of your island paradise. Dislike too many of their Spits, however, and they’ll fly off to some other tax haven, taking their celebrity pulling power with them. Really, the Spits are a delight to read, with my personal favourite being El Prez’s suggestion for the title of film a regarding fighting evil nuns: ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ (of course, while the celebrity in question is delighted if you issue this Spit, the religious faction will take a rather dim view).
‘Caribbean Skies’, the most expensive of all the DLC to date, adds a whopping five new scenarios for players to enjoy toying with the new modes of transportation, be it lumbering cargo planes, or fast drones (which suffer from the unfortuante occasional collision, and attacks from enraged parrots). These give players a much welcome ability to fine tune the logistics of their empire, whether it’s using cargo planes to transport specific goods, or setting up drone delivery routes (though you will need several new buildings in order to take advantage of drone power). In addition, it wraps up all these new mechanics in a tongue-in-cheek story involving meteorites, time travel, and mad scientists (to name but a few). Also, the missions of ‘Caribbean Skies’ are the most straighforward to complete (more on that later), revolving as they do arround logistics.
Of all the DLCs, however, ‘Lobbyistico’ was perhaps my favourite. Not so much for the new mechanics and buildings it added, but for the biting satire of the mission: Tropico has been approached by the EU in order to research a thing called ‘corruption’. As you might guess, this adds the ability to shmooze various faction leaders to stifle the string of demands they place upon you, make current demands go away, or even confer permanent bonuses (provided, of course, you keep them as members of the El Presidente Club). You can also build an official residence for an envoy, to smooth the way with a superpower.
Of course, corruption has its down side: too much, and your treasury will start to leak money faster than you care, your popularity will plummet, and civil unrest will soar. Considering that the only way to lose a game is to be voted out of office or to have a successful coup against your regime, neither of these are laughing matters. Fortunately, you do have a Corruption Agency building which can help mitigate the negative effects of corruption, and even help reduce it. This is also, by far, the most demanding mission of the three addons, and a good knowledge of the games systems is required if you plan on winning. Even then, it took several false starts, and a mad dash to acquire enough Swiss dollars to fulfill the final objective before an election came around. At the finish line, though I had a healthy treasury surplus, my popularity had slumped to single digits, and rebels were staging an attack on the Winter Palace (stolen from Russia and carefully installed as a decoy residence for El Prez).
This also highlights one of the problems with the mission design. With the exception of ‘Caribbean Skies’ In each case, successful completion of the missions revolve around hoarding some particular resource, whether it’s Swiss Dollars, or stuffed toys. While this is clearly designed to test your mastery of the new mechanics, it can occasionally be frustrating, especially when your island’s inhabitants can develop their own ideas as to where resources should be delivered. In the ‘Llama of Wall Street’ mission, I ended up, in desperation, bulldozing the roads connecting my Steel Mill and Teamster Office (delivery drivers who shuttle goods and resources around the island), from my docks, in order to force them to deposit the required amount of goods in my warehouse. Fortunately, with the latest free update, such a niggle will be the thing of the past, as players can now take control of a teamster office and issue an ‘emergency order’, to make them collect and deliver goods to and from specific locations (though it’s worth bearing in mind that until the emergency order is lifted, they won’t do anything else).
Also, some things, such as Tourist Rating, are too opaque to intuit, and not explained enough. At the final stages of the ‘Spitter’ mission, I simply couldn’t figure out how to max-out my tourist rating, and not even recourse to the internet helped.
Despite these somewhat frustrating niggles, these addons are fun additions to an already good game, and I spent quite a few enjoyable hours playing with the new systems at my disposal. If you enjoy Tropico 6 you should enjoy these addons, with their biting humour, fun new toys, and, especially with regard to ‘Lobbyistico’, challenging new missions. ■