Have you ever had the opportunity to transform a Caribbean desert island with only a handful of inhabitants into a global superpower? Ever managed to be in the position where you can rig elections, arrange for ‘accidents’ to happen to your political opponents and remain the beloved leader of your humble democracy? Nope, me neither – which is exactly why Haemimont Games and Kalypso Media have decided that amidst all the recent releases of first person shooters and epic fantasy adventures, sometimes you feel the need to sit back, grab the nearest Cuban Cigar and issue some dictatorial commands. Welcome to paradise! Welcome to Tropico 4!
At its core, the goal of Tropico 4 is to turn your humble banana republic filled with shanty houses and penniless citizens into a bustling and successful superpower on the world market whilst also juggling the demands and needs of several factions around the island.
The factions who will all ask equally demanding and conflicting objectives of you throughout the game are the Nationalists, Religious, Intellectual, Capitalists, Communists, Militarists and Environmentalists. These factions all want something different from El Presidente, be it changing the immigration laws to disallow foreigners into the country to improving the standards of education in your schools.
Through the 20 campaign missions that make up Tropico 4‘s story mode you will find one over arching goal – win the election!
In order to remain in the game of Tropico 4, you have to remain in power – this can happen a number of ways, you can either adhere to all of the peoples demands, giving them more food each day with the Food for the People government edict to taking more drastic measures during election time like bribing the vote counters to ensure you gain more votes (which will obviously have consequences).
Though Tropico 4 has some slightly darker undertones, being based around the time of the Cold War – it’s very hard to take these tones seriously when being asked by US senator ‘Nick Richards’ (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Richard Nixon, gowls and all) is asking for money from your thriving island industry whilst constantly protesting that “I am no crook!” or when the game opens up with the tradition-altering “Press any button to rule” instruction. These little touches make you realise that a great deal of attention went into creating Tropico 4 a fun and enjoyable version of an otherwise dark patch in the worlds history.
The main campaign in Tropico 4 is something which will never leave you short of things to do. Every now and then you will have specific tasks that pop up around your island such as ‘Export XXX Amount of Fish’ or ‘Improve Healthcare to XX’. There is usually no time limit for these tasks but they serve as additional spinning plates for you to micromanage, which is always nice.
And micromanage is a great way to describe Tropico 4, every building and aspect of the game can (and sometimes needs to) be micromanaged, from the type of healthcare your clinic offers, to the type of food your farm grows, to aspects such as the different type of education that is taught in your schools. Being a long time fan of city-builder games on PC, finding a console game which offered up such administrative freedom is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Having never played a Tropico game before I was slightly apprehensive about ‘learning the ropes’ but instantly found myself at home starting up my humble shack village with a few farms and logger camps – the concept is very familiar to anybody who has ever played a city-builder before. The controls also fit nicely with the Xbox 360 controller, but there is always those certain moments when you realise that you would have greater control with a mouse and keyboard. Thankfully these moments are very few and far between.
The graphics are exactly as detailed as they need to be for this game, from being able to zoom out to view a larger portion of your island using your ‘Super Secret Surveillance Satellite’ to being able to zoom in on individuals drinking coffee at your local restaurant.
Also accompanying the Campaign Mode in Tropico 4 is the Challenge Maps where you are given specific challenges and requirements to complete and also the Sandbox Mode – this offers a greater level of freedom for city-builder fans with settings such as Starting Gold, Length of Game, and Diplomatic Relations all customisable from the starting menu. The Sandbox didn’t feel as fun as it was probably intended, this might be because I insisted of setting everything to Easy so I could enjoy myself whilst playing it but despite me enjoying the Campaign more, I still managed to sink an impressive amount of hours into the Sandbox.
Tropico 4 is easily one of my top city-builder games I think I have ever played, as I mentioned I have never played a Tropico game before but I had always heard good things about them, and now I know why! Haemimont Games have created a very in-depth city-builder with tons of character and charm which you cannot help but like.
*Kalypso Media provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy.