3. Tropico 4
Tropico 4 is a Real-Time Strategy published by Kalypso Media Digital, in which you are the mayor/president/dictator (basically whatever you want) of an island. Your job is to increase the island’s population and create a smile empire out of it.
As forementioned, you can choose to be whatever kind of ruler you want to be. At the beginning of the game, you will get to select from any of the major ruler known throughout the history or create your own kind. If you choose your own you are presented with a big list of personality traits, both good and bad as well as to choose what kind of people you support.
Besides the normal city building, you get to do politics, trying to keep in balance the diplomacy with both US and Russia, doing side objectives for them and your people, to try to keep your people from being unhappy with you unless you want an untimely game over pop-up. Game is equipped with a multitude of choice made to cater to every kind of player. For example the election system can be rigged, you can order a hit on any civilian you want, run propaganda on radio channels, support freedom, keep speeches when running for another mandate of presidency, and actually try to keep your promises, unlike most presidents we know nowadays.
You can create educational buildings, malls, theaters, hospitals and hotels and of course, apartments. You can set rent, prices, the type of work your workers do, check statuses on people’s happiness and see what they wish to get near their homes. There will be riots, there will be peaceful manifestations, there will be terrorist attacks as well as natural disaters like a tornado. Ships will also sink and spill oil for which you will have to pay money to fix.
If you happen to go through hard times when you are in debt, you will be helped by the international bank with a rather small amount of money, but enough to help you get over the crisis if you manage to control the situation.
El Presidente can also focus on various industries, like tourism, mining and farming, as well as diamond cutting and jewelry creation in order to ensure maximum wealth. For mining and farming, the game will let you know in real-time which are the most appropriate areas to build such places.
Tropico 4 is one of the most complex city builders and definitely deserves to be tried for its humor that I have not described in here as well as for the complexity the game offers (you can learn easily most of the game by doing the tutorial).
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The first TBS game I’m ever including in my articles. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a top-down military turn-based strategy. The story revolves around an alien invasion and humanity’s attempt to survive it.
You are the commander of the XCOM base. Your job is to command which researches ought to be conducted, which items and facilities to be constructed and also lead the soldiers in the battle against the unusual threat. For all of this you will be backed up by all the countries in the world, depending on how well you serve them.
The received missions are usually random unless a critical story point takes place, like rescuing a person or such. Of course, you can refuse some of the missions but bad repercussions will happen to your diplomatic relations with the important places of the world. When you receive multiple missions at once, you are forced to choose only one of them to which you will attend. The other areas will suffer a panic rise, while the mission you chose, if successful will reward the player with an agreed prize that has been presented at the mission choosing menu as well as getting the area calmed down. If one of the areas ever reach the maximum panic, it means that the placed has backed up from the country and you lose all the support they have been given with no chance of getting it back.
Your soldiers are not expected to live forever, so for this reason you are presented with the possibility to hire new soldiers whenever you wish, up to 99 units in the barracks. Those that do stay alive get promoted and they receive a point to activate in their skill tree. In order for the unit to have a skill tree they have to be promoted at first. Every new soldier occupies the Rookie rank and will wield an assault rifle. After their first promotion, the game chooses randomly what their specialty will be and automatically receive the default weapon for that class. There are 4 classes that a soldier can become:
– Assault – This class will remain focused on Assault Rifles or anything resembling it. Its skills allows for tactical movement and capturing.
– Heavy – The Heavy Weapons Guy. Having fond of the big guns, his secondary weapon is a Rocket Launcher while the primary has been changed to a Light-Machine Gun.
– Support – Able to interchange between an Assault Rifle or Shotgun as primary weapon, the Support Class is there to create extra cover for his teammates.
– Sniper – As the name suggests, this Class takes upon the sniper rifle and uses its sharpshooting skills to tear down the enemy from a safe distance.
During the mission gameplay, you can control up to 6 soldiers (starting with 4), choosing each one’s position in the field. By default, each soldier has 2 turns in each round, extra turns can be given by his or her skills. The player can choose if the unit shoots (available only if there are any enemies in the target, information given on bottom-right as an alien head icon), stay in Overwatch, causing him to shoot if the enemy tries to change position, use any available special skill or armor up increasing the defensive for the current round.
The players can equip the soldiers with various weapons, armors and items like scopes, medikits and stun weapons. The armors and vests will increase the health of the unit that wears it. More weapons and items can be developed by researching them first and then purchasing them from the engineering team. You can sell looted stuff on the Grey Market for some quick extra cash. At the same time, random countries can ask for items in exchange for various rewards like money, soldiers, engineers or scientists. The player has 20 days before the trade request expires.
The developers went full creativity while designing the enemies, with your soldiers encountering the classic, thin, big-eyed aliens, some tall guy that looks like G-Man from Half-Life, sentient creatures made of pure lights, some sort of spider-taur that turns its enemies into zombies and so on.
Nonetheless, XCOM: Enemy Unkown is a great TBS that will make your mind’s wheels turn at a high speed or else your minions will die in the battle.
1. Euro Truck Simulator 2
Euro Truck Simulator 2 is one of the best Truck Simulators in the gaming industry. Developed by the same guys that created the ’18 Wheels of Steel’ series, ETS2 takes place on about 70% of Europe, covering everything but the eastern side of the continent. Starting with a simple garage but no truck, you’re forced at the beginning to work for other companies for which you’re quite weakly compensated. After a few trips you’re given the opportunity to loan money from the bank, enough to buy your first 18 wheeler. If you loan the money you will pay weekly fixed rate, so make sure you always have some change in your wallet.
The player can choose between several brands like: Renault, Scania, DAF, Volvo and even Mercedes. The game contains a leveling system which unlock new custom parts for your truck, be it for increasing performance or just to look shiny, once a certain level is reached. Upon reaching a new level you’re given one skill point to alter what kind of trailers you receive. You can add points to the long distance tree in order to transport your trailers for longer distances or getting access to the dangerous ones with explosives or chemicals and so on. Each tree adds bonuses as more XP and money when delivering a cargo if the objectives are met.
As aforementioned the game contains almost all of the Europe, so you can spend time sightseeing while driving with the help of cruise control to maintain a certain speed and the assurance of the clear road ahead of you. ETS2 also adds all the driving rules from each country, including the ones from UK, which might take a while to get comfortable with, if you’re from the continental side of Europe. You can also customize your truck to have the steering wheel on the right side. Unlike the ’18 Wheels of Steel’ series, the police doesn’t need to chase you anymore so, every mistake you make, you’re automatically fined with sums between 200 and 600$, for multiple reasons like: passing on red light, speeding, ramming into civilian cars, forgetting to turn on the headlights and so on.
The truck customization is medium, mostly focused on paints and paintjobs, the game allows for increasing the performance of your truck in multiple aspects like a better engine, wheels, brakes, transmission and so on, while you can make your truck have more swag with tons of headlights, both on the roof of the truck or near the license plate, add lots of horns, and the wonderful part is that all the headlights work, allowing for some lighter-than-day driving during the night. Customized roof, and wheel chassis’ are also there.
The game includes 8 cameras, including a first-person view and a top-down, which can be used for any circumstance. You can customize the first-person view to your liking by adjusting the seat. You also have included a mini-map in the bottom-right of the screen and includes more information on the other tabs like truck and cargo damage, time left until you get sleepy and until the cargo meets its delivery deadline, how much gas is left in the tank, mails, short messages and so on. That board is pretty much the entire HUD unless you also use the custom mirrors (if you can’t rely or don’t use the ones from the first-person view). The game also offers extended support for any gamepad and steering wheel for customized driving experience and, why not, more realistic.
A really important advice is to try to avoid to get damaged, and not because of the puny fine, but because the wallet will hurt more when paying for repairing instead of the ticket. Also, you will receive less money upon delivering the cargo if that is damaged as well.
The modding community is flourishing with custom content. You can add more companies, cargos, trucks and civilian cars in order to explore the map, graphic overhaulers and entire new maps like Romania, Bulgaria and Russia.
In the end, ETS2 is a relaxing game if you don’t push the speed limit. The AI will annoy you from time to time when they are not able to see the huge-ass truck in front of them changing the lanes causing you to take damage on the cargo.