STOP. If you already own Tropico 4 you probably don't need this game and it will likely frustrate you. I'm writing this review in the days after release so my gameplay time of Tropico 5 has admitedly been limited. That said, I've played the Tropico series since the original back in the early 2000's. I get that changes need to be made to keep the game relevant, but in my opinion Tropico 5 changed largely in the wrong direction. However, if you're new to the series, you'll enjoy this game for what it has to offer. Here's my initial breakdown.
Beautifully redesigned buildings, everything just seems to fit together nicely when you're trying to cram a lot of buildings into one space.
The dynasty member function seems like a possible plus (haven't really fleshed that out yet).
I like the concept of having manager's in buildings, but it's not clear how they contribute to the overall expense of the building.
I like some of the new edicts like charging for healthcare! Finally those lazy peasants will pay or die.
The addition of tanks adds a layer of badassery and battling rebels/other nations is more engaging.
Can't set the exact wage for a worker anymore (it's done in an overarching budget system, so you set a budget for a building which somehow encompasses a salary for the worker and operating costs for the building). You want to pay your farmers more than your doctors? Sorry, can't do that...
You also can't set the exact amount for rent anymore.
The above two issues make it hard to become an uber-capitalist dictator. I know it sounds ridiculous but they've dumbed down the economic system so much it's actually complicated.
Customizing your character is gone. I don't care so much about what they look like, but who thought an astronaut suit should be 1 of the 5 outfits you get to choose? I'm more upset you can't select negative and positive traits to create a more in depth character. I always liked choosing flatulence even though the palace guards got double pay...
Am I missing the plants and shrubbery somwhere? You basically have a large park and a small park, that's it. No single palm trees to meticulously line your roadways... Statues meant to glorify El Presidente's and intimidate your opponents are non-existent.
You have to pay to explore your island now which seems pointless.
Options like "paper plates" and "cloth napkins" that used to affect the quality of a restaurant are no longer options. You adjust the budget of the building now to change service, but that raises the worker's wages. What if I want to increase quality without raising wages...
El Presidente is pretty much useless. He can't help rush construction or join in fighting the rebels like in previous games. No option to sway election with speeches either.
Building progression through research/time feels poorly developed and arbitrary. You earn research points through libraries and observatories which give you tech upgrades for different buildings. Unfortunately, you can only build tenaments and country houses at the beginning so if you want to upgrade your citizens to apartments to improve housing quaility you have to wait until the Cold War era (and then destroy all your previous housing and try to make the apartments fit into your city layout). I wasn't a fan of Tropico 4's purchasing blueprints, but I think it works better than this option.
You can no longer see who is actually visiting a restaurant, pub, doctor's office, etc. You're just given a "number of visitors".
Searching in the almanac is painful. All I want to do is find the least happy person and execute them, but you can't search by that. You can find the person with the lowest approval rating, but they're not necessarily the most unhappy.
I know this is knit-picking, but I liked when you purchased a building upgrade in previous Tropico's, the physical improvement would appear (i.e. skylights in the cigar factory). There's no visual changes on the buildings when upgrading now.
You can't toggle a dock to accept "tourists only" so I keep having my teamsters dropping export resources at the dock in my tourist area. I don't want stinking peasants mixing with the upper echelons of society.
Only a handful of island maps to play.
One of the biggest negatives for me is the overall lack of buildings (where's the gourmet restaurant??? or El Presidente's childhood museum?). I assume this is so we can be sold the inevitable expansion packs.
The ability to choose the placement of our palace and dock at the outset of a sandbox game would be nice.
Consider reverting back to SOME, not all, of the core game designs from previous versions. My big ones would be charging specific amount of rent and setting worker's wages (please change this back).
True roundabouts would be great for improving traffic flow.
Even with all the above, I'll still play it because I absolutely love Tropico, but just a lackluster delivery compared to past game versions. Overall rating from me would be a 6 out of 10.