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Publisher: MacSoft    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.2.8

Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
June 13, 2005 | Michael Phillips

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I'll never forget when Jerry Seinfeld donned his puffy shirt; he was to be the first pirate. Alas, he wasn't ready for the responsibility. Jerry exclaimed with dismay, "but I don't wanna be a pirate!" Immediately, I saw the opportunity that Jerry was missing. To be a pirate is a world of ale and wenches. Muskets and cutlasses. Ships sailing the open blue ocean. In short, it's a world of freedom. Freedom from society's conventions, like morality and regular bathing. It's also a world of constant backstabbing and lead pipe cruelty, but that's just the price of complete and total autonomy.

Until recently, aside from the previously mentioned puffy shirt, it was a veritable impossibility to find even a taste of pirate life. Luckily, the pirate lads and wenches at MacSoft have released Tropico 2: Pirate Cove (T2:PC); a game of pirate intrigue, rum, women and stolen booty. Yet, does ruling a vast pirate empire equate to fun Mac gaming? The only way to find out is to read on. Arrrr, matey!

Gameplay: Smells Like Pirate Spirit
Load up on rum and bring your wenches, it's fun to loot and to raise Hell. That's the essence of Tropico 2: Pirate Cove. One could describe this game as SimCity, but with a pirate twist. T2:PC places players in the role of Pirate King, governing a secret pirate island. How does one attain such a lofty position? Well, after a life of servitude in various tobacco farms, an escape is made and the player's ship washes ashore on an uncharted island. With a little luck and a lot of charisma, anybody can be king under such circumstances.

Tropico 2: Pirate Cove offers players a multitude of gameplay options, including a 16 mission story-based campaign, 9 unrelated single-player scenarios and a Sandbox mode in which just about anything goes.

First, let's discuss the campaign. The player begins as an escapee after being sentenced to a life of hard labor for card cheating. I guess it doesn't help to have swindled every judge in the land out of hard earned coin. While in the penal colony, the player meets Charlotte De Berry, a haughty young lass who brags of her own pirate pedigree and the possibility of vast treasure. Thus, in the campaign's first episode, the player must help Charlotte convince a group of rowdy buccaneers to join the crew and become rowdier pirates. So, how is this done exactly? The answer is quite simple me bucko, beer! Given enough beer or rum, a pirate will do just about anything. As Pirate King, the player has no direct control of their individual island dwellers, but through the construction of various buildings and the issuing of royal Edicts, the player can shape the overall tone of their island. For example, in the campaign's first episode, the player must provide their newfound friends with beer. This is done by ordering Captives to construct a series of buildings that support one another. Captives are just ordinary, law-abiding folk who either washed up on or were kidnapped and delivered to the island. They work for the pirates and in-turn, they are allowed to live… literally. That's fair, right? So, Captives build Corn Farms which are maintained by other captives, while yet other Captives construct a Brewery. Corn is then delivered to said Brewery and through the magic of pirate science is turned into tasty beer. Yay, beer! Lastly, the beer is delivered to a Pirate Dive (i.e., hole in the wall bar). Once the pirates have their drink, the campaign's opening mission is a success.

As the campaign progresses, the episodes become more complex and generally perilous. For instance, in one mission, the player must build a new ship for the infamous Captain Henry Morgan within a set amount of time lest they wish for their secret island to be reported to European authorities. Unfortunately, pirates don't always care about such practical deadlines, so aside from devoting resources and labor to ship building, one must also do things to keep their pirate crew happy. My first attempt at this mission was an absolute disaster. My pirates revolted, my Captives escaped in droves and Captain Morgan introduced me to his European associates. I, the proud King Theon, barely escaped on a leaky raft, with only my parrot to comfort me. It's really not easy being king. So, why did I fail? Simply put, all work and no rum makes pirates go crazy. However, after building a few more Dives and minor amenities for the Captives, things went much smoother my next go around. Thanks to various in-game tips, T2:PC isn't hard to get into, especially for us anti-manual people.

Aside from the campaign, Tropico 2: Pirate Cove features 9 single-player scenarios in which one must take on the role of a famous pirate to complete certain objectives. In one such scenario, gamers play the role of Cap'n Hook and must build a fleet of ships and amass a hefty cash horde. In this game, cash is earned by sending pirate ships to raid merchant ships and various settlements. Pirates then come home and blow their share of the spoils on the island's pirate economy. These scenarios range in difficulty from Easy to Hard and are playable in any order.


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