PC Review - 'Tropico 2: Pirate Cove'

by Hank on Aug. 20, 2003 @ 2:28 a.m. PDT

As an all-powerful Pirate King, players must manage a seventeenth century band of buccaneers in "Tropico 2: Pirate Cove." To attract the most frightening of history's sea-faring bad boys, Pirate Kings must keep their charges brave and well-supplied between voyages. The island's "yo-ho-ho's" must stay at a feverish pitch in order to keep the King and his buccaneers satisfied with drinking, wenching, gambling, feasting, and the best in pirate accommodations.

Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Frog City
Release Date: April 8, 2003

Buy 'TROPICO 2: Pirate Cove': PC

Hey ye matey! I be the captain of this here island and I order ye to walk the plank! If you have ever wanted to be a pirate, Tropico 2 is your chance, as you play as the captain of a pirate gang. At all costs, you must keep your pirates and captives in order, plundering for money or kidnapping for more work. Make sure you maintain the island's happiness, or it's off with your head! Ahh, the romance of pirate life ...

If you have ever played Sim Coaster or RollerCoaster Tycoon, then you will already have a heads up on Tropico 2. The game engine is almost identical to those games, with some extra perks here and there. Rather than having material related to roller coasters, this game has material related to pirating. The main point of the game is to maintain a healthy and orderly pirate island: you make the calls regarding every building, ship, and mission. You are the captain of the island, and you must do whatever is necessary to achieve the status of pirate king.

In order to begin your quest, you must first manage and build a decent pirate city or town. There are several different types of buildings in this game, with different ones available to serve pirates and captives. You must maintain the perfect mixture of each to maintain the happiness of both parties on your island. Unhappy captives will lead to mutiny or maybe an escape. What is worse are unhappy pirates, as they will start a killing frenzy, eliminating fellow pirates or useful captives. So make sure you build enough items to satisfy their desires.

Within each character, there will be several options available to see how happy they are: overview, happiness, politics, job & house, haunts, skills, and thoughts. With this information, you should build the necessary buildings that this character is missing. You must try to appease a majority of these characters to run a nice and healthy pirate community. Build what is needed to keep the island pleasant and secure.

If you think you will get off the hook with just managing the island, you are very wrong. There are two more items that you are required to manage: boats and island politics. Within each boat, there are several options you must choose: its mission, plunder shares, and attack method. The available boat missions are: Raid Settlement, where you will capture prisoners, Kidnap Craftsmen, which orders a ship to capture the necessary craftsmen missing on your island, Exploration, which allows you to search for nearby settlements and trade routes, Cruise, where you attack fellow ships in order to gain loot and new pirates, and lastly, Fostering a War, in which you put up fake colors. With these options set, you are ready to set sail.

Before you may set sail, you should also set the island politics. The politics would be related with individuals of the island, your pirate policy, cruise orders, captive policy, and international diplomacy. Within each section, you will have a set amount of edicts available for individual attention, where you manage the ships and individuals of the island.

Other than these few options, the game almost runs itself. Once the buildings are set, the captives do their duty unless they escape. As the island’s ruler, however, you try to prevent this by scaring them with the necessary items or setting a policy that will make them more submissive. There are buildings that will scare the captives, and when you choose to build them, you will be shown in which areas the buildings will be most effective. Use this color scheme to your advantage by putting the correct items in the correct places. Once you’ve done that, the game is almost an easy win; as long as you manage your ships, victory is yours.

There are a total of 16 missions where you must manage your island well enough to meet the certain objectives. Such objectives can range from building a set amount of items, making enough money, or holding out against an enemy attack. You must utilize all elements to achieve your objective, from building the correct buildings and setting the proper edicts to selecting the proper ship for the mission. Each of the boats has its advantages and disadvantages so build them wisely. Remember to keep the mission objective in mind, as building unnecessary items can be quite costly later.

The game graphics are fairly equivalent to other simulation games such as SimCoaster; while the graphics will not wipe you off your feet, they contain enough detail for you to admire and enjoy the game. You can see the pirates’ thoughts with their little thought bubbles, building exteriors, and the captives working out in the field. You can never go into a building to see what is happening, which would have been a nice addition, especially with the brothel, but that might have required censorship of some sort … and a higher ESRB rating. However, you are able to zoom in and out on the building exteriors and rotate the map to your liking. In my opinion, the best feature in this game is the little steering wheel option, which follows the player or building you have selected. This allows you to see things up close and personal, as well as helping you find all of your crew in time to set sail.

The sound in the game isn’t as impressive as other PC games around. It doesn’t really have a great music selection like C&C, but the tropical music in the game fits really well with the pirate motif. What really gets annoying is the announcer’s voice. In all my years, I never thought I would be barraged with complaints of “You’ve got too many wenches on your island!” I have to admit that the announcer is helpful at times by informing you about escaping captives or the need for more of a certain type of building. A few more narrators would have added some variety to the monotonous droning, and I would have gotten a kick out of having a parrot make some of the announcements. You will also hear voices when you click on certain individuals. Each time you click on an individual of the same class, the shouts are almost always the same. It is actually quite annoying if you need to demote a massive amount of captives to pirates. The men’s screams aren’t as bad because it seems quite in-character, but the women’s screams were harsher and scarier than anyone could have anticipated.

Other then its minor downsides, this game is actually quite enjoyable. If you like simulation games, I would suggest that you pick this one up to enjoy a few hours of mindless fun. It has every element contained in other sims, but with the additional pirate ambiance. You must really manage and ensure that you run your island well, for passing missions is not the easiest task. A multiplayer mode would have been really sweet so here’s to hoping that the developers will add that feature to their next installment. With that said, I shall set sail. May your plundering days be prosperous!

Score: 8.2 / 10

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