Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
In MacSoft’s Tropico 2: Pirate Cove, you’re the Pirate King – the de facto ruler of a burgeoning pirate empire – and it’s your job to oversee every detail of how your island is run. But who knew that managing a bunch of renegades could be so much work?
At its most basic level, being the Pirate King means managing resources such as timber, food, and iron – largely with the help of captives your crew have grabbed during their raids. As you acquire resources, you can build up the empire, creating new docks, shipyards, and structures that will add to the coffers and improve the quality of life on your island. Play well, and eventually you’ll be able to harvest sugarcane, which you can use to make rum (and rum makes for happier pirates); turn iron ore into pig iron, which can then be used to make muskets and cannon; and gather tropical fruits.
Matching your facilities to your population is crucial. A tavern that serves beer and simple fare will work well for basic pirate crews, but as the population grows, its tastes will become more sophisticated. Forts, gallows, and stockades can help keep captives in line, but if you keep them too squashed under your thumb, you raise the risk of resentment and mutiny. Good thing you’re omniscient. Knowing what people are thinking will help to keep tabs on how the population (captive and free) is doing and, in turn, how well you’re doing.
In addition to offering a long-term campaign mode, Tropico 2 also has single scenarios with specific goals, such as plundering a certain amount of treasure in a certain amount of time.
Micromanagement has its downsides. You have a ton of details to keep up on, and you can get swamped pretty easily. You’ll also need to keep track of what’s happening outside your island kingdom.
Tropico 2 divides the region into 18 territories, each with strategic alliances to a European power (England, France, and Spain, for example). You can choose to massage your alliances or be a brutal and violent leader – assassinating anyone who gets in your way.
And Tropico’s Sandbox mode lets you customize the island’s topography, game lengths, and goals. You can even customize yourself and become one of more than a dozen pirates from myth, legend, and fiction (everyone from Anne Bonny to William Kidd), each with unique management styles and strategic strengths and weaknesses.
This version has much-improved graphics, and the quality of the graphics can be adjusted to the capabilities of your graphics card. Tropico 2 requires an 800MHz G4 or faster Mac running OS X 10.2.8 or later.
Tropico 2: Pirate Cove is the kind of simulation-based strategy game in which you can lose hours, if not days, making sure every element of your empire runs well. If you like digging into the details, it’s a lot of fun.