Posted: July 4
This one saddens me.
For singleplayer gaming, there is no reason whatsoever to play this game, as it's significantly dumbed down from Tropico 4, and the core gameplay and engine are still pretty much unchanged from Haemimont's first, Tropico 3 (beyond the DX11 minimum requirements here).
Compared to 'T4', large layers of complexity have been removed, building variety 'simplified', and so on. Where previous titles had fires break out, and a fire station to fight these, this was essentially cut from the game with few exceptions, and fire-fighting is provided by an upgrade to the police station. Where previous titles would give you a convincing degree of control over your economy & housing, here you may merely set a 'budget' slider that affects everything from quality to costs. Gone is the feeling that you can freely choose to give housing to the masses or expensive mansions to the rich -- or to go full-on far-left and build beautiful mansions for the unemployed. Gone too is the notion of having plentiful factions with their own ideals on your island, forcing you to make meaningful choices. The reduced amount of factions among your citizens never make you feel they are actual entities with their own agendas (a feeling prevalent in, say, the first Tropico).
It's truly telling that when you first start this game with a game controller connected, it makes you play with console-specific UI / menus / controls.
Like in any The Sims title, all the content you're used to from the previous ones' DLCs is again gone, to let you await the opportunity to re-buy similar stuff when it gets released for the current game.
Besides some mildly funny pop-culture references, the SP campaign is entirely forgettable and not worth playing.
For completionists, each major DLC adds 10 achievements to make it impossible to "100%" the game without buying all of the massively overpriced expansions.
The multiplayer, a first in the series, is what should make this game worth buying.
It is, however, full of bugs, glitches and design issues.
That they only added the option to save your game in multiplayer after release should be telling - the mode doesn't feel like it received any playtesting. Very often some form of desync occurs, which for whatever idiotic reasons disables the ability to save completely. If you don't manually save every 5 to 10 minutes, you will soon lose hours of progress to this (auto-saving exists only in SP).
The worst thing is that any player even just alt-tabbing from the game in borderless windowed mode, while you watch the game run normally in the background, seems to always cause an initially hidden desync. Soon you won't be able to save and then you find out that everybody has their own version of reality, with buildings complete/incomplete/destroyed, armies stuck in fields unable to move, and so on.
Speaking about armies, when playing cooperatively your armies help each other out -- but that always bugs up to get the combined Tropican Defense Force stuck at the place of their last engagement instead of letting them return to their bases, so in the mid to late game, you will have rebels in the south and all the army in the north, unable to get there before your buildings are annihilated... every single time. If you don't team up from the start, there are some diplomatic options, but they don't involve temporarily sending military aid to your friends -- you either accept the inevitable problems or can't help each other.
Inexplicably, things like removing roads just don't work properly in MP, and you will likely be stuck with any accidental constructions.
Knowing Haemimont and Kalypso, none of this is bound to get fixed -- as an example, they and the equally inept AMD managed to break water rendering in the game with the 'Omega' graphics driver release in late 2014/early 2015, and neither side has managed to do anything to solve this in over half a year.
I can't say the hours I spent with this game weren't to some degree jolly, but that was largely because it's "Tropico with multiplayer". As much as I conceptually enjoy this, I can't hide that the actual game is pretty bad compared to what you would expect (at the price point they charge also are entitled to expect).
If you are only interested in MP, you have no other choice. For anybody else, pretend Tropico 5
doesn't exist and play the much better (and much cheaper) predecessor(s) instead.
P.S.: The game is a bit better with mods[www.tropicomodding.org]