Cartel Tycoon: Review

cartel tycoon review cover

Cartel Tycoon is a game developed by Moon Moose and published by tinyBuild. Initially released on Steam on 26 July 2022, the title is now set to debut on Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 on 14 March 2024. We played it on Xbox Series S.

Cartel Tycoon is a tycoon game about drug trade. In the game, we will take on the role of a South American drug cartel boss. Our goal will be to acquire money and power through both legal and illegal ways.

The title features several campaigns and a free play mode. The free play mode is a classic sandbox in which we define the parameters of the game and create our own gang with our own rules.

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The campaign, on the other hand, is divided into several chapters, each of which is separate from the others. It gives us very precise objectives, as well as giving our boss and his lieutenants a story based on certain choices, but with a very linear progression.

In both modes we will have to manage a certain territory. In this territory we will have to build plantations that will produce illegal (cannabis, opium, etc.) or legal ( avocado, coffee, and so on) raw materials. All the raw materials produced can be processed or exported directly through ports, border crossings or airports.

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The process is not easy, as it is necessary to establish a real supply chain (like Highrise City). To do this, you need to build warehouses and transport companies to store and transport the goods. It is also possible to process the goods to increase income or to go unnoticed and not increase terror. You can even build factories to disguise illegal goods as legal ones.

Of course, as in all illegal activities worthy of the name, payments will be made in dirty money. We will have to do a lot of laundering, because we will not be able to do everything with dirty money.

Our actions will change two parameters: loyalty and terror. Loyalty is characterised by the loyalty of citizens and local authorities. Terror, on the other hand, increases with the increase in illegal activities; the more terror increases, the more authoritarian police bodies we will have on our heels. These range from the local police trying to seize our plantation to an invasion by the US army trying to wipe us out forever. All this via DEA raids, federal checkpoints and so on.

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In Cartel Tycoon we will run the business through our boss and his lieutenants. Like chess pieces, we will move our trusted lieutenants to different areas of the map to transport goods, invade enemy plantations and buildings, or carry out ‘diplomatic’ missions.

It is also important to know how to choose your lieutenants according to their skills and demands. Each will have a different level of trust. In particular, each lieutenant will be more or less comfortable with a certain level of terror. Each lieutenant will be able to offer us missions, and some missions will increase the lieutenant’s level by making him improve certain skills.

Even in free play, Cartel Tycoon is not a static game. We will receive many requests for missions and will have to negotiate with mayors and bosses of other cartels to acquire new territories and rights of passage.

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Cartel Tycoon is a good tycoon, but with a few minor flaws. First of all, being a management game, porting it to consoles is not always painless. Even in this case, the game suffers from some minor shortcomings when it comes to using the controller to control the graphical interface. In fact, when some buildings are grouped together, it becomes difficult to select the correct building using the controller’s pointer. It is also very inconvenient not to be able to quickly select lieutenants scattered across the map.

In this respect, the addition of mouse and keyboard support would have been welcome, as they currently work but not as well as they should.

Another detail that made us sniffle was the somewhat chaotic management of goods transport, with activities often coming to a standstill because of full warehouses, even though both the warehouse and the transport agency are within their radius.

Otherwise, Cartel Tycoon is an engaging adventure, thanks to its catchy soundtrack and complex economic management system. Thanks to these ingredients, Cartel Tycoon will involve us in the affairs of our virtual cartel in order to make it dominate the entire region.

Our verdict

A captivating tycoon game that will satisfy the needs of all fans of the genre, despite a few minor flaws.

  • Improvements are needed for the controls.
  • Chaotic transport management
  • Immersive environment
  • Good Soundtrack
  • Wide range of resources