Developer Haemimont Games in conjunction with Kalypso Media put you in the shoes of El Presidente, an aspiring dictator of the island banana republic of Tropico in Tropico 4. Set in the midst of the Cold War world of the 1950s, you have just taken power of the humble nation of Tropico and must build the infrastructure from the ground up, developing a strong, prosperous economy, and establishing relations with the United States, Soviet Union, the E.U., China, and the Middle East.
Tropico 4 features a variety of modes including an extensive campaign containing 20 missions set on ten different maps. It also includes a sandbox mode where players may tinker on any of the ten maps, which vary in difficulty based on availability of certain resources and environmental factors such as recurring natural disasters as well as the natural climate of the island maps.
There is a Challenge mode where gamers may play scenarios created by the online community. Or they can create their own scenarios for others to test their mettle as the most popular or the most ruthless dictator of Tropico. To get acquainted with the mechanics of the game, it also provides an informative tutorial on the basics and how to get started, which is always a plus in construction/economic games of this type.
Players can also choose a variety of famous Latin American dictators and revolutionaries, which have their own unique effects in the game. Players may opt to create their own avatars by selecting their own personality traits, allowing for more variety. Once you have your dictator, you will need to establishment your island. How you go about doing that depends on the kind of dictator you are willing to be. If you intend on ruling with benevolence, it is essential that you focus on structures that improve the welfare of your people. Whatever your style, infrastructure is a must in order to effectively consolidate your power on the island.
A large part of Tropico is economic development. Although intimidating at first, the management of gathering resources and the intricacies of trade and import and export is quite straightforward. There is a wide array of economic opportunities with well-defined resource types such as agriculture, mining, tourism, and of course, industry. The game links these opportunities to each other very well, emphasizing the basics of supply and demand, and buy low, sell high. While earning money through trade, you can also pocket state money by transferring a cut of the economic assets into a personal Swiss Bank account further enhancing your powers. Of course, what’s a dictatorship without some corruption?
Another particularly noteworthy feature is the political aspects of Tropico. While maintaining good relations with the outside world through completing in-game challenges involving trade, political, and monetary advantages, you will also need to manage your relations with the different domestic factions, ensuring your grip on power. Piss people off too much and they may launch a coup or rebellion against you.
As with foreign factions, domestic factions issue in-game challenges, allowing you to maintain cordial relations with them. Players can appoint a group of ministers to manage the affairs of the nation such as education, foreign affairs, economics and tourism, interior, and defense. Once you have your ministers, you can pass certain edicts that will have different domestic consequences in the game. As with the rest of the game, this all depends on play style.
Overall, Tropico 4 is a very in-depth game draws players into hours of gameplay from the onset. It balances city construction and economic development with elements of domestic and foreign diplomacy very well, which makes the game feel complete and reflective of ruling a developing nation. For those not in tune with getting into specifics, the game does a great job with accommodating players who are easily overwhelmed with micromanaging. The graphics help with the feeling that you’re immersed in a pretty little island on its own, and it’s very nice to see the attention to small details. With the recently released DLCs, players will find that Tropico consumes countless hours with addicting gameplay. There is no limit to the direction one can take in developing your island-nation.
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Name: Tropico 4
Available on: PC, Xbox 360
Developed by: Haemimont Games
Published by: Kalypso Media
Release date: August 30th, 2011
EG Score: 4 out of 5 / “Worth Buying”