Joining the influx of city-builders making their ways to the sunny horizons of the console market, Tropico 6 finally makes its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debut.
When Tropico 6 released back in March, we gave the tropical dictator simulator 3.5 stars, calling it “a visually impressive, unbelievably charming and ruthlessly enjoyable role-playing city-sim,” despite lacking “the depth of the genre’s more intricate modern hits”. Luckily, the exact same content that made Tropico’s sixth entry such a fun city-builder on the PC makes a welcome return here, including the franchise’s sense of humour and engaging era-based setting. In short, if you wanted Tropico 6 when it came out on PC, this is the same game just playable from the comfort of your sofa.
However, as has been the pressing question for these numerous city-builder console ports, how does it fare using a controller setup? As becomes evidently clear when entering the tropical world of Tropico 6, this isn’t the franchise’s first rodeo in the world of console releases. Every modern Tropico entry has eventually made its way to console and it shows when navigating the game’s numerous menus, building screens and statistical charts. Unlike more fiddley releases, like Cities: Skylines, Tropico’s relatively simple UI and intuitive categorising of features means that everything feels like a mere button click away, whether that be enacting edicts to send your nation’s children down the mines or paying a bunch of pirates to go and singlehandedly steal the Eiffel Tower.
While it’ll never feel as natural as using a mouse and keyboard to zoom over the map, Tropico 6 is probably about as natural as it has ever felt to play a city-builder on a console. Unlike many other examples of these ports, the cursor doesn’t get stuck on buildings as you move from one part of the island to the other, and the controls themselves, while taking some getting used to, feel like smart revisions of the mouse and keyboard. The left trigger brings up the game’s various menus which you can scroll through fairly effortlessly, while the ‘X’ button (on a PlayStation controller) is assigned to selecting buildings and the square button to citizens on the street. The latter alone is a great example of Tropico’s smart optimization of its systems to match the limited options of the controller.
There are few small issues with the control set, namely some flaws with the camera and the movement of the cursor. The former can often fight you when attempting to zoom out to see a wide shot of your island, and the latter is merely an issue with how unnatural it can sometimes feel to navigate with the joystick-operated cursor instead of the ‘WASD’ keys. Neither are deal-breakers, but it’s worth understanding that the genre still feels built for the PC, even if this a strong console adaptation.
The visuals are also a noteworthy downgrade. They’re far from terrible, but for a title that did look surprisingly beautiful on the PC, Tropico 6 can often resemble a last-gen game. Zooming in to see the finer details of your city nets you with a whole host of unrefined visuals that lack detail, while late texture pop-ins are a common sight to behold all over your island. Tropico 6 is a game that’s cheeky sense of humour and wry charm make up for its less than stellar visuals, but if you were looking forward to the strong graphical fidelity available in the game’s PC version, it’s definitely not present here.
In terms of city-builder console ports, Tropico 6 is probably one of the strongest ones out there. The controls are easy to pick up and play, while the menus are intuitive to navigate and utilise. The graphics may not be up to snuff, but that doesn’t stop this port being a great adaptation of one of this year’s wackier city-builders.
Game: Tropico 6
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Linux
Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release Date: 27 September, 2019