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Tropico 5 is a welcome sequel to a great series. Many fans were underwhelmed by Tropico 4. While the game was solid it did little to innovate on Tropico 3 and its expansions. Tropico 5 took notes, and now offers a very different gameplay experience.
The biggest changes are the multitude of little tweaks, such as how farms work, a new research system, new specialist system, the dynasty mechanics and a dozen other little things that overhaul the game hugely. Each is well implemented with the level of detail and balance we've come to expect from the series.
The new time based campaigns are also something that Tropico players have talked about for a long term- persistent islands. Traditionally each level in Tropico is its own map, but no longer. You have only two islands in this game, and you develop them through the campaign. This requires much more foresight and planning and led to me needing to restart the campaign twice because I didn't think far enough ahead. I thoroughly enjoyed overcoming this great new challenge.
If you've never played Tropico I'd suggest starting with 3 or 4. 5 is a very different game but it maintains the tone, feel and gameplay shape of its predecessors. As such you can spend a little less seeing if you like the style before you commit to spending more on the recent title.
If you know Tropico and love it, then you'll love Tropico 5. Faithful, but not afraid to break new ground. And they break it with extreme competence and authority.