Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
Score: 8.7 / 10
of my favorite games of 2001 was Tropico, which was an underrated
strategy simulation that placed you in the role of a leader of a small
fictitious tropical island country. The tongue-in-cheek humor, great
in-game story and scenarios, and award-winning musical score were
wrapped up in enjoyable gameplay that borrowed heavily from two of
legendary developer Will Wrightís creations, SimCity and The Sims. The
gameís expansion pack released the next year, Paradise Island,
provided even more stellar scenarios to the original game.
the sequel has finally been released. But instead of sticking with the
winning formula of the island leader scenarios that provided an engaging
story that could help overcome some of the gameís minor deficiencies,
the developers took a risk and instead made pirates as the gameís main
characters. Although the basics remain the same, some upgrades to the
gameís engine and gameplay make Tropico 2: Pirate Island a
swashbuckling fun game, even for those Tropico veterans who may be
disappointed with the elimination of the tropical island leader
storyline from the first title.
If the pirateís life is the life for you, then you might just need to check out Tropico 2. You get to play as the head pirate in charge of a tropical island paradise with a motley (and not always loyal) crew of scurvy dogs under your pirate king rule. The game, described on the box it comes in as a "pirate island simulation," plays much like SimCity, but is nowhere near as complex. There are missions for you to accomplish if you wish to proceed further into the gameís campaign and avoid being sent on a one-way raft trip to the middle of the sea by your sometimes-cutthroat pirate minions. Gameplay all boils down to getting your pirate islanders to make you a ton of golden booty while building a flourishing tropical island that can be used for your pirate base.
Much like SimCity, you will have to build structures like corn farms, saw mills and essential pirate necessities, docks and shipyards. And what pirate island would be complete without casinos, taverns, smugglerís dive for hearty beer consumption, and my favorite additions to the pirate land, a combination brothel/salon and a wench masseuse. (Whatís the fun of being a pirate without wenches for some good old
The only problem with building on the island is the same problem that
was present in the original Tropico: it takes too long. You could read
the book Treasure Island in its entirety before some of the larger
structures can be completed.
plenty to keep you busy as you try and rule your pirate isle. Again,
there isnít quite the amount of infrastructures, population, and
everything in-between to care for as the recently released SimCity 4,
but Tropico 2 has its fair share. Youíll have to find the best place
to build buildings, and thereís a menu to let you know where the most
suitable spot to place corn farms or mine iron. Thatís just one of
many menus that are charted. Flipping from menu to menu is done with a
click of the mouse to keep tracking of the goings-on of your pirate
island rather easy.
The Sims-style gameplay onto your island is the interactions you have
with the island residents. Each character on the island has his or her
own personality and needs, and the gameplay really requires paying
attention to how they are performing in their work duties and generally
behaving. By simply clicking on a character you can see their most
recent thoughts, so you can gauge what kind of mood the island populous
is currently in. Most instances of clicking on an islander elicit a
humorous response that will remind some gamers of the WarCraft series.
If they are complaining heavily on how the pirate life is treating them,
you may have to provide new buildings or better island conditions
through the issuance of the gameís edicts, which are commands that can
go a long way to making the islanders happier, or at least, more
may find yourself losing track of your objectives during missions.
Thatís where Smitty comes in. Sitting in the top left of the game
screen is Smitty, who passes along advice to help you while youíre
playing and also has a scrolling menu to help you figure out what needs
to be done next. Just like in the first Tropico thereís a log that
keeps track of every single detail of your game, including how many
captives and pirates are on your island and how they feel about your
island rule, which is one of the most important pieces of island info to
pay attention to. If the masses arenít happy, odds are your pirate
rule could be in serious jeopardy. It may sound overwhelming to keep
tabs on so many different functions at once, but thatís the gameís
charm. Tropico 2 offers serious but lighthearted gameplay that most
gamers this side of SimCity 4 will find it completely challenging.
2 looks exactly the same as the original game, which was graphically
pretty solid, if unspectacular, to begin with. But the original game was
released over two years ago, and itís obvious the developers went the
safe passage by sticking with the Tropicoís 2001 graphical game engine
and not upgrading the visuals. The gameís soundtrack is again
wonderful, but nowhere near approaches the amazing award-winning Latin
beat tunes that appeared on the original. The original Tropicoís
soundtrack is simply one of the best youíll ever hear in a game.
Because the focus is now on pirates in Tropico 2, thereís a
restrictive nature to what music could show up on the soundtrack, having
to comply with the whole pirate theme and such. The tune wizards did a
pretty good job coming up with pirate-spiced music, but it canít
completely measure up to the impossible-to-match stellar sounds wafting
through the original Tropico.
personally miss the island leader plots of the original game, but
Tropico 2 proves even dastardly pirates can be a lot of fun under the
hot island sun. Enough new upgrades help enhance the gameplay and create
the perfect title for PC gamers who want something similar to SimCity 4
without having to spend a week studying the instruction manual learning
how to play. It also brings humorous Sims-style gaming into the mix.
Tropico 2 is a wonderful game worth its weight in buried golden
(June 22, 2003)
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