The first Tropico saw you being cast as a dictator in a Cuban styled era. This time Tropico 2 - Pirate Cove goes back in time to the jolly world of pirates, wenches and grog. Whether it is the single missions, campaign or sandbox mode your task is to not only build the best darn pirate’s island you can, but to stop your jolly band of men rioting against you.
Tropico 2 is basically a management sim and you main task is to provide for your Pirates and captives. Captives need to be scared with stockades and gallows, while pirates want grog and wenches via inns and brothels.
Wenches, construction worker and general haulers are all provided by carrying out raids on nearby islands and keeping the two sides happy (the pirates) and scared (the captives) is a tough job.
Buildings are erected on the basis of meeting certain requirements. Most of the time it is lumber focused and making sure you have enough of it. Lumber is generated via timber camps and saw mills and unless you build two or three of these early on, you'll be always struggling. The other common requirement is a skilled worker for your designated building. Build a tobacco farm and you'll need a skilled farmer, build a blacksmith and you’ll need a blacksmith to run it and so on.
You can gain these workers in a similar vein to how you get the main brunt of your workforce - by being a pirate. Sending out pirate ships to capture skilled workers, explore the local region and declare war on neighbouring countries is just some of the ways you can increase not only your workforce, but you pirate standing in the region. However as action always happens off screen, this can soon become an element that could have lead to a more exciting part of the game rather than merely seeing you boat disappear off the edge of the map.
Making it more than just a building game are edicts that you can instruct. This allows you to have more of a say in how your island reacts with the outside world. Most things can be changed and set and the whole process is similar to the ordnances in the SimCity games. Want to rig the gambling - well you can, want to throw a huge pirate festival to boost moral you can do that as well, and if you’re really feeling mad you can free all your captives, although we wouldn’t suggest it.
While the idea is interesting enough, the game's reliance on lumber before you can really do anything does border on the frustrating and annoying. Even on the very fast setting game setting it took some time to collect lumber with three timber yards and three saw mills so we could start building stuff. Bar that, the game will keep you going as you try to balance the job of looking after a workforce always looking to escape and a population always looking for the next pint of beer and lady to go with.