Welcome to the Cafe, Ace!
should I break down and buy the original??
In a word, yes. I bought T2 because I enjoyed the original Tropico. I played T2 for about six months, really enjoyed it, but eventually went back to the original.
Try to get the "Mucho Macho" edition, if possible. It includes the original game, the "Paradise Island" expansion (called PI at the cafe), and adds a few more scenarios as well (but generally, the ones you can download from the cafe are better
). You will find that many of the scenarios and competitions here at the cafe require PI.