TROPICO 6 Console Review: El Presidente Rules The Living Room!

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It’s crazy to think it has been 6 months since I reviewed the PC release of Tropico 6. Now El Presidente looks to expand his reach to rule over consoles as well with today’s console launch of Tropico 6 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One! I was able to preview an early Xbox build of the game back at E3 2019 and found the transition to a controller fit the game surprisingly well. Our friends at Kalypso Media were then kind enough to give us a code to take part in the Xbox Game Preview version of the game that I have spent the last few months enjoying on both base and enhanced hardware. Having been playing the game during this early access period, I have seen bugs come and go and features get added in from the PC release. This has all culminated in today’s final 1.0 retail release, which stands tall with the original PC release and might just be my favorite way to play the game today!

Story

Assume the role of El Presidente and lead your nation of Tropico into prosperity or ruin. Decide how to build your nation from what type of government you will establish to the types of industry you will build. Make alliances with various factions and subvert others to remain in control of your nation. All of Tropico’s hopes and dreams rest on your shoulders, El Presidente!

Gameplay

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As I mentioned earlier, today’s release of Tropico 6 brings a fully-featured version of the city building and political simulator to consoles on par with what I covered in my original PC review. All game modes, tutorials, and multilayer are included, along with the sandbox map generator to let you always have new islands to build on. Customization of your very own El Presidente and palace has also made the transition fully intact! If something was missing, I wasn’t able to notice, so rest easy console players, you are getting a complete game here.

The journey of a Tropico 6 playthrough is entirely up to you and your choices as El Presidente. If you fail to establish a good economy or decide on a poor choice of government type, you may find your time as El Presidente cut short, forcing you to either restart or load a previous save to try again. The game progressively adds more onto itself as you get further into it, so definitely spend some time in the beginning to gain a basic understanding. Tropico does a good job of teaching you how to do this with its ample tutorials and missions, so if you have never played a game in the series before I would definitely recommend starting there. It will also help you learn how the political system works to let you remain in power!

There are 4 ages you will advance through in Tropico 6, from the “serving the crown” colonial era to the “space journeying” modern era. As I just said, each era will introduce numerous changes and additions to the game. It can feel overwhelming at first, but some of the stuff you can do is just so much fun! An industry that works in one era to make you a ton of money may not be as useful in the next. Who would have guessed that wooden ships wouldn’t be needed in the modern era! Fear not though, you can turn all of those planks you have collected since the beginning of the game into furniture.

But rather than rehash the basics of the gameplay, I want to discuss the quality of the ports themselves. If you are interested in seeing more info about the gameplay, I will implore you to check out my original PC review! Tropico 6 is now available on PS4 and Xbox One, and I must admit I was surprised at how well both versions of the game run. City building sims have had notoriously bad performance at launch, so I expected Tropico 6 to share this fate. Thankfully, it doesn’t exhibit any deal-breaking performance issues. During the game’s early access phase there were a few moments I would have to reload the game due to an unexpected crash. That has yet to make a return since I have been testing the final build of the game, which is fantastic.

Both the PS4 and Xbox One version of the game have appeared to maintain consistent performance despite the number of buildings and boats traveling around your island. I honestly kept waiting for performance to tank as I advanced through the eras, but outside of an initial small load to bring in the updated era assets, each has remained solid. Both consoles also maintain the ability to speed up the in-game time by 4x, letting you see the fruits of your planning that much quicker.

I will note that performance on the base PS4 was more consistent than on an Xbox One S, with the Xbox version having some occasional stutters when I would demolish or place multiple buildings quickly. Again, nothing deal-breaking in my mind, but do keep that in mind if you are running on the One S. The One X seemed to fix this issue, but anytime the game would autosave there was a brief stutter. I also felt this save stutter on PS4. Unfortunately, I don’t have a PS4 Pro to test how well the game ran on that version. And again, compared to how some other city building sims have launched, Tropico 6 on consoles is off to a strong start that I hope will only get better from here!

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Now, as for playing the game with a controller: it felt better than I could have ever hoped for. All of the menus from the PC version of the game have been integrated into a single menu brought up by a pull of the Left Trigger (L2). This menu is circular by design, as has become a standard interface for games like this over the last console generation, and rotating your Left Stick and pressing A (Cross) will let you pick your desired entry. The same process is used to navigate any additional sub-categories like construction. Other menus like Trade, Edicts and Research will pop up a fullscreen menu you can navigate with your thumbstick or D-pad. I actually find this console version of the menu easier to navigate than the PC’s taskbar along the bottom.

Now, selecting specific buildings in your city will bring up the same sidebar present on the PC version of the game where you can select wages and operating instructions. To access this sidebar, you use the D-Pad on your controller. The D-pad is also used to control in-game time if you have no buildings selected. The map can also be fully rotated and zoomed using the Right Stick. Holding the Right Trigger (R2) in combination with the Right Stick will also let you change the viewing angle to give you a better view of the map.

Visuals

Base PS4 no waves.

Base PS4 no waves.

Tropico 6 does make some sacrifices in graphics quality in the transition to consoles. On base hardware, the waves rolling onto the beach or against your docks are no longer present. Texture and shadow quality are also of lower quality compared to those found on PC. The game still looks absolutely gorgeous, however, and if you never played it on PC you would never know the difference! Xbox One X is a bit closer to the original PC presentation with waves and more details still being present. Shadows still appear to be the same quality as those found on the base consoles though.

Xbox One X restores waves.

Xbox One X restores waves.

Audio

The audio work of Tropico 6 on consoles is identical to that found in the PC version. You can still rock out to the awesome Carribean/Latin themed music while listening to the awesomely cheesy re-election speeches!

What It Could Have Done Better

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My only major complaint with the console versions of Tropico 6 comes down to load times. Starting a new map takes quite a while to load, even if being run from an SSD. Generating custom maps only makes this time longer as the game tries to generate your Carribean creations. The slight load stutters during gameplay could also annoy some players but hopefully, both issues can be cleared up with a patch!

Verdict

Tropico 6 on consoles has been a surprising amount of fun I didn’t ever expect to have with a console port of this type of game. Playing on the Xbox One X has easily become my favorite way to play, especially with optimized controls and menus. The presentation nearly being on par with the PC release was also a nice bonus! I also love that the majority of the game runs at a solid pace, considering the number of things happening at once and the size some of your cities can get to. Not everything is perfect, as the game does suffer from longer loads and a few moments of stutter present on all consoles. Still, Tropico 6 represents the best translation this genre has had on consoles this generation! If you have any interest in this style of game it is definitely worth checking out.