Guest Author - James Shea
The sequel to the tourist resort management sim, "Tropico 2" takes the concept of running a tropical island and then goes back a few hundred years to when said islands were under the control of brutal, ruthless pirates.
As a pirate king or queen, you are given an island with which to make a profitable and well-defended secret pirate base. This will mainly be a shantytown of tents, wooden buildings, and the occasional masonry for higher-class establishments. There are two main groups you need to deal with. The first of these is the pirates; these are the people responsible for looting, pillaging, stealing, and plundering.
Pirates are the higher class of your society, the skilled labor, and the ones that you need to keep happy. Pirates' desires include alcohol, food, money, and various vices. Buildings must be constructed and maintained to keep the pirates from killing each other or killing you.
Captives, on the other hand, are taken from raids or shipwrecks, and are your prisoners; as such, they perform the more menial jobs, and simply need to be kept orderly and afraid. Most prisoners are unskilled, but some have particular abilities like being a cook or being a surgeon. These types of prisoners are necessary for certain jobs and will usually make your pirates happier. In general, prisoners respond well to order - that is, they will stay in line - and pirates respond well to chaos (so that they don't feel hemmed in or controlled, which would make them angry); certain buildings will radiate either order or anarchy, and thus it is best to try to position them near areas used by the correct group.
Your pirate cove is a haven of industry, as well; various crops and resources need to be harvested and converted into things useful for your pirate crews. For example, buildings are mostly constructed out of lumber, which first requires a logging camp. Haulers then carry the wood to a saw mill, which turns it into lumber. Both processes are time-consuming, which may result in a bottleneck if you have too much harvesting and not enough producing. Your industry creates everything from food and drink to buildings to ships to weapons. You can set priorities for each structure so they know how important their work is, depending on the situation.
The main focus of a pirate game will be, of course, piracy. You can make ships at boatyards or shipyards and moor them at docks. These ships have captains and crew, and can be sent on missions like raiding settlements, attacking trade routes, or masquerading as a particular country's ship to cause a war between two countries (which pirates then use to their advantage). Essentially, you give the ship an assignment and some parameters (how to engage and how much money the crew should keep for themselves) and send them off. As you engage with countries, they may find and attack your home base, so you can build forts and watchtowers to prepare and defend yourself.
The graphics in this game are vaguely cartoonish, and look pretty good. The design of the buildings is ramshackle, and appropriately pirate-themed; it looks a lot more "real" than if all the buildings were in mint condition. The interface and displays are all well-integrated into the pirate theme, as well. The sound is good, with some good, jaunty pirate tunes playing in the background.
As a whole, this game is pretty nice. It's a sim game, all right, but it has enough pirate themes to make it interesting. Even though it should feel like it's been done, it's still got enough going for it that it's worth the effort.