Tropico 5: Waterborne
Waterborne is the first major expansion pack for Tropico 5, the island management simulation from Haemimont Games that was released about six months ago. Waterborne adds nine new water-based buildings, including an oyster farm and a floating apartment building, plus a new campaign, plus some other odds and ends. But is there enough in the download to be worth your time and money? Keep reading to find out.
The main addition in Waterborne is the new set of nine water-based buildings. These buildings are all placed on the water, giving you a way to expand your cities even after you’ve run out of room on your island. The buildings include the oyster farm (which produces pearls), the fishing trawler (which sails around producing fish), the glass bottom restaurant and the bathysphere (which provide entertainment), a smuggler’s dock (which gives you a bonus to your imports), a tidal power plant (which produces low-maintenance energy), a floating apartment (which provides housing for rich families), an offshore office (which improves your finances), and a nuclear submarine (which bombs invaders but also deals collateral damage).
The buildings are fun enough, but they don’t really change the game. Even playing the Waterborne campaign, the new buildings only made up maybe 10% of my cities, and because they’re situated in the water, they’re often too far away to be useful. For example, I never managed to fill up a floating apartment, and the fishing trawler kept getting so far away from my docks that my teamsters stopped servicing it. The exception to this is the offshore office, which gives you an option to increase your slush fund. This is so effective that it out-produces all of the other slush fund methods combined.
The campaign that comes with Waterborne challenges you to track down the mysterious black pearl and then hold onto it through global warming and attacks from the superhero Captain Plant. The campaign is about as serious as every other Tropico campaign — which is to say, not at all — but it’s entertaining, especially since the voice acting is so good. The campaign consists of six missions, which took me over 20 hours to complete.
The nice thing about the campaign is that it’s more challenging than the original campaign. Two of the missions are timed, and another forces you to race a competitor. That means if you’re not quick and efficient, you can actually lose. One mission took me three tries to get right — which is saying something because I can’t remember the last time I failed a Tropico mission (it might have last happened with the original Tropico). So if you’re an old hand with the Tropico games, then the new campaign might be appealing just because it’s tougher than what developer Haemimont Games has produced previously.
Waterborne also includes some other additions like new music tracks, new avatar costumes (including some weird ones like the angel), and new radio broadcasts. These additions are all useful, but like the new buildings, they just provide “more” without really creating anything “different.” I was surprised when playing Waterborne just how much it felt like I was still playing the original Tropico 5.
Overall, while there isn’t anything wrong with Tropico 5: Waterborne, I’m not sure how much there is right about it, either. The new buildings work and provide you with more options, but they don’t change how the game is played, and the new campaign is entertaining, but it’s also short. So you could certainly purchase Waterborne if you’re desperate for something new for Tropico 5, but otherwise I’d recommend that you wait for the price to drop a little. To me, Waterborne felt more like a $10 DLC than a $20 expansion pack.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Kalypso Media
This review is based on a digital copy of Tropico 5: Waterborne for the PC provided by Kalypso Media.