Tropico 2: Pirate Cove - game review

Date: 2003-11-12 10:46:00
The review was based on the PC version.

Two years ago, a strategic and economic game aptly named Tropico was released. It was sold in a tropical package with an additive that pleased all fans of mixing interesting drinks. The idea itself was good and I must admit that when buying the game I consoled myself that when it turned out to be a worthless flop, at least the addition itself would be useful. To my surprise and unbridled joy, Tropico turned out to be a game with "soul" and a wonderful atmosphere. It is not often possible to play the role of the president of Cuba and observe the subjects, while at the same time taking care of their needs. I remember that the game drew me into many wonderful hours, which today I do not regret a bit. After a short period of time, but sufficient to complete the game several times, the first expansion pack appeared, which fully preserved the peculiar atmosphere and extended the fun with Tropico by a dozen more sleepless nights - and in this case it was worth it! Once I decomposed this production into its prime factors, I felt unsatisfied, frustrated and sad - can one game have such an impact on the player's psyche? Apparently so. Therefore, it is impossible to describe the feelings that accompany me while reading the announcements of the next game with the word Tropico in the title. In addition, there is the number 2 and the subtitle: Pirate Cove!

What does this mean for us, dear players? Well, we got our hands on a product that continued the legendary history, only in a new form. You are probably wondering if the game, after changing the setting, has not lost its atmosphere. Honestly, it still has it, but in a different style. This time we are no longer managing sunny Cuba, but one of the hidden pirate islands, and this is a big difference creating a whole new atmosphere. In fact, this is the only major change that has happened in the second part of Tropico, so fans of the one will feel at home. Yes, there are also other, minor differences, about which I will try to write relatively simply and concisely.

The time of events is definitely different, as we go back to 1653, a period of chaos and decay. We take command of an island inhabited by a diametrically transformed society. The peaceful local people were turned into aggressive and uncouth pirates. In the second part, tourists are called captured slaves who work for our happiness. As befits a pirate island, there could be no shortage of beautiful, large-sized girls in the right places, thanks to which they can enjoy and make our adventurers more enjoyable. In a word, full of private life and pleasure - but first you have to work for it.

This can be done by choosing one of the three prepared game modes. I recommend new players to play Tropico 2 with the "Help" mode, in which our friend and teacher in one, an old sea horse named Smitty, will lead us by the hand through all the most important aspects of the game. He will explain exactly what each button is for, tell you where to build, guide you through the entire menu, and give advice on how to keep your subjects in a state of uninterrupted happiness. Overall, Smitty is a good guy and you can learn a lot from him! Before I go to the proper mode, which is "Campaign", I will mention only one more, namely "sandbox". It is interesting because it allows you to set your own game conditions, map size, its geographical structure and the appropriate level of difficulty. It works mainly after completing the campaign, because in some way it extends the life of the game with new experiences. As already mentioned, the main and only mode with a storyline is "campaign", which consists of single scenarios with gradually increasing difficulty levels. Here we will find out where we came from on the island and what is our goal.

The main goal in each scenario is to keep the two bars in the lower left corner of the screen at the appropriate level. What do they mean? Well, the first tells us about the degree of satisfaction of our subordinates, while the second about the obedience of slaves. It is important that both of these indicators always remain as high as possible, which is not easy at all! When the level of one of them starts to drop dramatically, then we can be sure that nothing good awaits us. After all, who would enjoy the escape of prisoners or the revolt of their people? Certainly no one. Now you know why it is so important to take care of the needs of the people living on our island.

The next major change compared to the first part of Tropico are buildings. There are several dozen of them in the game, some are new, the other in a restored form, and the third is quite similar to the previous ones. The rules of production in individual buildings have been transformed. It is true that the size of the materials produced still depends on the workforce, only that in the new Tropico 2 it is like a medicine, which is why production stagnation often occurs. The only measure to remedy this is to bring new workers to our island. We are going to organize round-ups, as during the Second World War. This can be done in two ways - either swim to a nearby island, unload corsairs and have them seize the local population, or take pirate flags from the mast, replacing them with false ones, and then lure and loot any ship. Depending on the chosen method, the effect will be one - a new workforce that will fill the employment gaps in our buildings. By the way, it is worth mentioning that the number of captured prisoners depends on the morale of our adventurers, so it is easy to conclude that the player has no direct influence on the course of the "round-up". In the subject of buildings, there is one more issue that differs the game from its predecessor. It is wood, and not money, as it was before - the main building material. Unfortunately, we will not experience excess wood, which often makes the game long and tedious.

It would be appropriate to devote one paragraph to the title pirates who, after all, play a priority role in the game. As already mentioned, we must constantly keep them in a state of uninterrupted happiness. How to do this? Our pirates have needs like any healthy person: they want to eat, they like to drink something stronger, they do not despise tobacco and are always hungry for carnal pleasures. For this purpose, special houses were created, to which alluring ladies invite our soldiers. Each of them is original in its own way, has its own character, history - not to mention the name. They all come close to a set of features that are responsible for combat capabilities. Every ship captain is unique among pirates, having three additional qualities, which are: fame, leadership and loyalty. He is the strongest character on the boat and many missions depend on his competence.

In the subject of people, one can also mention something about the prisoners held on the island. They are cunning beasts and too much indulgence in their needs can be doom for us. If we do not hold an iron fist over them, they only watch when and how to escape from our prison. Of course, there is a solution - it is enough to fence part of the island, put up a few gallows or their companions' heads impaled on the stakes. If we want to suppress them even more, we can order the execution of random prisoners. We can be sure that after such drastic measures, no one will dare to say a word, let alone run away.

Since we have prisoners and there are other islands, there must be countries that can be put under our skin. It so interesting that we do not have to "tear cats" with everyone. Nothing stands in the way of issuing an appropriate edict under which we will establish diplomatic relations with the neighboring country. We can do this by following one of three countries: England, Spain and France. What is tricky? It is enough to give freedom to all prisoners of a given nationality, to stop attacks on this country and thanks to that its rulers will look at us with a more favorable eye. If we try harder, we may even be protected by a friendly power!

The graphic side of Tropico 2: Pirate Cove does not present anything new to us. There were no new graphic effects or improvements. We still have the usual isometric projection with the use of close-ups and zooms, as well as the typical camera rotation. I am not sure whether I should be happy or despair because of it. Basically, sticking to the proven graphic design allows you to maintain a peculiar atmosphere, on the other hand, however, this look could already get bored during the two previous games from the Tropico series. Yes, the graphics are clear and aesthetic, and since it's a bit backward - it's difficult, you can get used to it quickly. However, the biggest surprise for me are the hardware requirements, which have gone up significantly and the game runs smoothly only with a 1.0 GHz processor and 256 MB RAM support.

In addition to the graphics, our senses attract our senses with music, which is getting better and better! I honestly admit that few games have a soundtrack that I would not turn off after an hour of play. Tropico is one of my favorites and praise the sound engineers for that, they did a great job! All other noises also present a high level and do not raise the slightest objection, which is rare nowadays.

This is how we come to the end of the reflection on the new game from the Tropico series. What can you say? If you are a fan of the old Tropico, the new part will also not disappoint you in any way, if you like a good economic strategy, you should also have fun. If you are among the opponents of Tropico, the new part is not attractive enough to attract you to the monitor. In general, it is good old Tropico in an innovative version, with a brilliant soundtrack and many interesting economic and political solutions.

Marek "Toldi" Bazielich