Tropico 5: Waterborne Review

Walking on the water.

It may be as revolutionary as a hipster in a Che Guevara t-shirt. A lack of originality means that Tropico 5: Waterborne doesn't wring much more life out of the latest edition of Haemimont Games' dictator-in-a-box city builder. Much like the main game, which slightly stretched the familiar Tropico formula with new historical eras and nastier politics, this expansion barely broadens El Presidente's possibilities with a series of glub-glub gimmicks that lets you take Caribbean corruption into the actual Caribbean. Enough new content is provided with a new campaign, buildings, and window dressing to get diehard fans of the original game interested for a couple of days, but there isn't anything essential here, and the $20 pricetag is a little steep.

The premise is pretty simple. El Presidente decides that being the boss of a banana republic isn't satisfying enough, so he goes the Bond villain route and heads to the sea. Quicker than you can wonder why every other 007 bad guy in the 60s and 70s seemed to have some kind of watery HQ complete with submarines and pet sharks, you're expanding your tropical dictatorship from the traditional island jungles out onto the waves. All of this wet and wild action comes in the form of a new Lord of the Pearl campaign centred on the various kooky oceanic activities necessary to secure the legendary Black Pearl. Forget about giving out any brownie points for originality.

Pirates attack your towns, taking advantage of the terrible in-game combat system featuring troops that are virtually impossible to control.
Pirates attack your towns, taking advantage of the terrible in-game combat system featuring troops that are virtually impossible to control.

Most of the new campaign storylines and quests focus on the high seas, although there isn't anything here all that interesting, save the odd geeky reference to things like discovering R'lyeh and then sending good old Penultimo off to meet with Cthulhu. Unfortunately, the developers don't do too much with these out-there plot points. At the very least, they could have had the simpering toady devoured. That said, sending canned goods to R'lyeh for the bonus of importing what have to be Deep One immigrants is kind of nifty, even if there isn't anything here beyond the textual references. Still, the goofy sense of humor on offer in Tropico 5 is strongly present, adding chuckles to the yawns. This remains a charming and very likeable experience thanks to cornball humor, the great radio broadcaster, and the fantastic soundtrack with its peppy Latin beats and guitar plucks.

The campaign is something of a snoozefest. Waterborne scenarios play out pretty much exactly like they did in the original Tropico 5, with you continually being pushed along from one directed goal to another, given various trade quotas, and so forth. A stream of advisors and flunkies shows up basically to give you orders about exporting this or that resource, building this or that facility to please the great unwashed, dishing out an edict to please a foreign power or suck up to an island faction, and so forth. The only difference is the watery flavour of the plot, although it really doesn't make much difference if you're trudging through the same old goals on land or on the high seas. Dull is dull.

The oyster farm is one of the few new buildings offered up in Waterborne.
The oyster farm is one of the few new buildings offered up in Waterborne.

New game mechanics are few and far between. There is a paltry number of new facilities to construct, none of which is any sort of stop-the-presses addition to gameplay. You can now set up oyster farms to gather pearls, which can be a hot commodity on the export market. Smuggler's docks let you play up to pirates and open up black-market trade routes, but at the cost of occasionally being invaded by gangs of pirates that do little but expose the chaos of the core game's combat system.

Some of these features get a little more interesting as the years fly by, but even then, there isn't much to recommend such amenities as the glass-bottom boat, tidal power plants, bathysphere, and floating apartments. You can build nuclear subs in the modern era, at least, although these aren't exactly a show-stopper given the poor combat features of the core game. Most of the new features are minor variations on existing buildings that add nothing aside from a nautical flavour to your dictatorship. About the one positive is that there is something for everyone here. The new water-based structures feature in every aspect of your city-building, from core infrastructure like food production to tourism to military defense. They do add a sprinkling of variety that should liven up sandbox games.

Combine Popeye with Papa Doc, stir in the usual city-building procedures of Tropico 5, and you've got Waterborne, an expansion short on imagination and implementation. Nothing here adds any meaningful content to a game that was already pretty well-known to long-time followers of the franchise. Another half-dozen or so hours of peasant-oppressing, Swiss Bank-building fun is provided for the truly dedicated, but there isn't anything here with lasting value or appeal.

The Good
Offers a high-seas diversion from the standard, land-locked Tropico 5 scenarios
The Bad
Does little to alter or even enhance the Tropico 5 formula
Just a handful of new features and buildings
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Tropico 5

About the Author

Corrupting the hearts and minds of Tropico 5's peasants was at the top of Brett’s priority list for around eight hours while he was reviewing the Waterborne expansion.
14 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for BradBurns
BradBurns

1166

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By BradBurns

Funny, most of that Caribbean corruption was due to US interventionism.


Source: I lived in the American Caribbean for a while. Many horror stories related to US foreign policy/business interests were heard.


Also, W T F is Tropico?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for cozziuk
cozziuk

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By cozziuk

You know what... after this review... lack of progress in t5 anyway... this is a miss for me... time for developer to step up to the plate in t6 or this is off the list for GOOD

Upvote • 
Avatar image for CommandoAgent
CommandoAgent

1703

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 12

User Lists: 0

Edited By CommandoAgent

Is this your first time playing Tropico?

Other users on steam found this DLC rather quite fun.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24181

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 559

User Lists: 4

@CommandoAgent

Steam user reviews are unreliable. They are often made according to whims.

I would only consider them a good barometer if every Steam user who played a game gave favorable reviews to it.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Freedomination
Freedomination

65

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By Freedomination

@Gelugon_baat @CommandoAgent Steam reviews are fast to write and require little thought. I can write one after playin a game for 10 minutes. 11/10 would review again

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24181

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 559

User Lists: 4

@Freedomination

You are being sarcastic, aren't you?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for crazy_packer
Crazy_Packer

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@CommandoAgent Currently 62% of the 8 reviews on Steam are positive - hardly a ringing endorsement given Steam reviews tend to skew to the positive side.

4 • 
Avatar image for sirchick
sirchick

135

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@crazy_packer @CommandoAgent plus 8 reviews.. hardly a large number. Half could be staff at the Tropico company.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for deactivated-5b19214ec908b
deactivated-5b19214ec908b

25072

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@CommandoAgent Yeah but for the price they're charging it's not too great.

5 • 
Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

702

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 9

User Lists: 0

It looks like the game was reviewed by someone who didn't like and didn't care about Tropico franchise.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for khankalili
khankalili

95

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@Morphine_OD Looks like you never played tropico 3 and 4, or are unable to see how much worse this iteration is compared to those games. I loved tropico 3 and 4 and the expansions to both, and the whole of tropico 5 was nothing but a giant disappointment.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for crazy_packer
Crazy_Packer

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@Morphine_OD The review seemed honest and fair to me. Just because he was not impressed with this expansion or apparently Tropico 5 doesn't mean he doesn't care for the series. I played Tropico 3 & 4 but I share the concerns about the lack of change from one (now seemingly yearly) iteration to the next and the endless pricey DLC developed to go with it. Because of this I have no plans to purchase Tropico 5 or this expansion (which currently costs THE SAME PRICE as the base Tropic 5).

3 • 
Avatar image for MigGui
MigGui

373

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@crazy_packer @Morphine_OD basically, tropico went to the hands of average developer and publisher, who can't both make games that are good and sell well at the same time. it became a cashgrab yearly series with overly expensive DLC that only sell on steam sales, when they tend to drop 66~75% off.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for simonmetcalf
simonmetcalf

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@MigGui @crazy_packer @Morphine_OD Sad but true :(

Upvote • 

Tropico 5 More Info

Follow
  • First Released May 23, 2014
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 4 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Tropico 5 has you take on the role of El Presidente as you control the infamous island of Tropico during early colonial times and then guide it through the centuries as the world changes and moves ever forward.
    7.6
    Average Rating94 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Tropico 5
    Developed by:
    Haemimont Games, Kalypso
    Published by:
    Kalypso, Square Enix
    Genre(s):
    Management, Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence