Release Date: 2011-09-30
Platform: PC, Xbox 360
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Haemimont Games AD
Ten years ago El Presidente charmed the PC gaming masses by taking over a Caribbean island during the Cold War, and turning it into a tropical paradise. Of course, for El Presidente the term “paradise” typically meant siphoning city funds for his Swiss bank account, causing rebellions and racking up gambling debts. That’s the Tropico that we all know and love. The very same Tropico that used a winning combination of humour and politics to put El Presidente into power ten years ago.
The Tropico series is an objective-based real-time strategy game with a heaping helping of city-building simulation tossed in for good measure. The first Tropico was developed by PopTop Software and was met with rave reviews. I recently tried to play it again for kicks, but to be honest the graphics are just too old and crusty now to hold much appeal. In 2003, Tropico 2: Pirate Cove was developed and released by Frog City Software. In that Tropico sequel players took on the role of Pirate King and would rule a pirate island in the 17th century. Plundering, scurvy dogs and lots of rum laid the foundation for Tropico 2. Although the game was fairly well received, it strayed a bit too far from many of the things that people loved about the first Tropico.
Jumping ahead to 2009 we had a new developer in Haemimont and the promise of a reboot of the original Tropico. Enter Tropico 3 and the much anticipated return of our beloved El Presidente. In the third entry to the Tropico franchise players once again took control of a tropical island, where they had to make all of the tough calls once again to either lead their people to happiness and prosperity or run a corrupt office and rule with a golden fist. Tropico 3 was met with above average reviews, and I personally felt it was a worthy reboot of the original Tropico. Now that I’ve had a chance to try out Tropico 4, I’m going to say that it is an even better reboot of Tropico.
You can’t really call Tropico 4 a follow-up to Tropico 3, because both games take place during the same time period, and the differences between the two are very subtle at times. Visually, new video options have been added to help you tweak your game graphics. Colours are more vivid and the new Tropico is bright and crisp, and there’s a new and improved user-interface.
In Tropico 4 you’ll be faced with randomly occurring disasters, but this time you’ll also have to deal with some of the aftermath. If a tornado blows in or a volcano erupts, then you will likely have to rebuild portions of your city. If an oil tanker spills its load in your harbor then you will have to decide how to best deal with the clean-up efforts. If faced with a drought and fires break out, then you will have to decide which buildings your fire department should save first.
No worries, though; with the addition of many new tourist attractions and entertainment outlets, your citizens will soon forget that they just lost their homes to a tsunami. New buildings include a ferris wheel, water park and roller-coaster, bringing players a solid base to build a proper amusement park. In Tropico 4 you have new decisions to make and challenges to face, but this time around you will do so with a staff of self-appointed ministers. This is assuming that you can get them to stay in office, which is something that I had trouble doing. Who would not want to work under El Presidente?
Other things that have been updated include the voice acting and the addition of Facebook and Twitter integration. In addition to the single player campaign, I checked out the sandbox and mission editor. You have the ability to create a mission and upload it for all Tropico players to download. There’s also an online leaderboard that you can submit your scores to. Missions in Tropico 4 are just as addictive as they were in the first Tropico. Will you rule for the good of the people, or will you be “misunderstood”?
I can understand why people think El Presidente is an ass, but they’re only hearing one side of the story. My people are so ungrateful, and as a result, sometimes I am forced to do things that aren’t so nice. For example, citizens build shacks to live in. They build them all over the island and they are an eye sore, both to El Presidente and Tropico’s tourist population. In an effort to rid the island of shacks, I build tons of free housing so that the shack-dwellers can move into a proper home. But do they? NO! They continue to build their rat-traps in my city. It wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that they build them faster than I can demolish them. This makes El Presidente angry. As a result, El Presidente must remove the free housing edict, along with the food for the people and old age pension edicts. Then El Presidente has to have the shack builders eliminated for thinking that they know better than El Presidente.
Just another day in the life of El Presidente, and almost as fun as ruling a real island during the Cold War. Don’t ask how I know that, I just do! Previous experience as El Presidente is not required, since Tropico 4 is basically a reboot of the original. Tropico 4 is the best of the bunch.