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Q2 2003



- Enhances the already solid gameplay of the original

- Wenches abound!

- Interactions with pirate crew can be really hilarious. Who says pirates donít have a great sense of humor?



- Pirates are fun, but if you played the first Tropico, you may miss delving into the role of a tropical island head of state

- Piratey music is darn good, but itís not as great as the original gameís tropical-flavored Latin beat tunes

- Graphics still have a 2001 look



Review: Tropico (PC)

Review: Tropico - Paradise Island (PC)



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Tropico 2: Pirate Cove

Score: 8.7 / 10


One 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.


tropico 2 pirate cove pc review          tropico 2 pirate cove pc review


Now, 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.




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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 


wenching?) 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.


Thereís 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.


Bringing 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 compliant.


tropico 2 pirate cove pc review          tropico 2 pirate cove pc review


You 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.


Tropico 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.


I 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 treasure.


- Lee Cieniawa


(June 22, 2003)


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