Tropico for iOS Game Review

In addition to creating its own games, Feral Interactive has established itself as one of the preeminent PC to iOS game port developers for iPhones and iPads. Whether its Feral Interactive's own Rome: Total War games or high speed racing games like GRID Autosport, the company's proven porting track record has set the bar for other companies intending to bring classic PC games to iOS.

Related: Apple Gets Games with Apple Arcade Subscription Service

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Feral's latest port for both iPad and iPhone is Tropico ($11.99). Based on a decade old PC game (actually the third Tropico game in the series), Tropico for iOS represents another amazing achievement for Feral. Like the other PC to iOS games it has done prior to this game, the team at Feral has reworked the original mouse and keyboard interface into a silky smooth, intuitive touch interface, making menu selection, screen scrolling and most importantly, virtual city building a joy.  Indeed, for those players who are not aware of the game's original PC heritage, it would appear as though Tropico was originally designed for the iOS platform.

Tropico Title Screen

The basis of the game is the same that it's been for the entire Tropico series (with the most current PC version release being Tropico 6, with Tropico 7 no doubt in some form of development). It's been quite a successful run for the series that began in 2001 with the initial release of the game.  Tropico 3, the game that Feral opted to port to iOS, is a decade old and yet it still holds up as one of the favorites among Tropico fans. This is likely due to the fine balance between city building, fiscal management, diplomacy, and even a bit of role playing. The game provides a 15-island campaign along with a sandbox mode to keep your Caribbean island development activities engaged for dozens of hours.

Tropico Build Screen

Graphically, the main play area of the game glides silky smooth over 3D cityscapes and island landscapes. Watching the sunset from a view from the ground while virtual islanders go about their business in the city square is sublime. Placing new buildings is as easy as selecting the structure, aligning and orienting it, and tapping the checkmark to confirm its location.

Tropico 3D View

The only time I struggled with the interface was with a few road construction projects, as the interface would occasionally inform me that I was not able to place a road passage during freeform drawing mode. It would take a few tweaks to overcome whatever odd issue the game complained about. Eventually this became less of an issue over time as I got used to the game's mechanics and ways to circumvent the issue, but it could be a point of mild frustration for new players. Besides that minor quibble, everything else with the interface was straightforward and perfectly operational.

Pros

  • Remarkable achievement of perfect classic PC game port
  • Entertaining and highly engaging city builder
  • Interface changes work equally well on iPhones and iPads

Cons

  • Creating working roadway paths can sometimes be frustrating

Final Verdict

In summary, if you are a fan of the Tropico series and have been eager to build your island empire on the go and have an iPhone or iPad capable of handling the game's intensive 3D graphics and complex tracking of goods, construction projects and politics, then you're in for a treat. Or if you're a gamer seeking an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek Caribbean-themed city builder with a bouncy calypso soundtrack and a humorous DJ to keep the tunes and popularity information flowing, Tropico for iOS is a delightful game that will keep you occupied and entertained for quite some time.  

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Mike Riley's picture

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.