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Tropico 4 Review (PC)

Our guest reviewer, The Duke, tries his hand at being a Dictator.

To start I have to declare that although I love games in general, I am a particularly big fan of Sim games, and I assume you are too as you are reading that article. This was the reason why I accepted to write a review for this game. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to play the game’s predecessors “TROPICO”, “TROPICO 2” or “TROPICO 3”, therefore, I cannot make comparisons between them and the newest release. Nevertheless, I was excited to take a shot at the game…

Preliminary I was told that the game is something like SimCity (personal favourite) and also that I will be a Latino-American dictator so I can do whatever I want without consequences in the game. Well… The truth turns out to be quite different for both statements. The aim of the game is not to make prosperous city, but mainly to control the social aspects and the political picture in the region under your rule and to maintain power.  It’s not that easy, but let’s go chronologically:

I took the game to install it and my first thought was – “What a weird idea to have a game where you are Latino dictator… Why would anyone want that? But then – why not? After all, the world is not only Russia and USA. ”. This semi-negative feeling was accompanied by my first impression from the advert materials (lovely t-shirt) complementary to the press-sample copy of the game. The slogan on the shirt was literally: “I WAS A DICTATOR BEFORE IT BECOME MAINSTREAM!” and I was thinking – “What the hell… These people have some kind of dictatorship complex”.

I started the installation and it asked me for more than 3.5 GB space on the hard-drive – “Nowadays the people don’t care at all about computer resources. I use to have 6 to 10 games on one floppy disk. Fair enough pretty crappy ones, but still… Some minimalistic discipline would be very welcome.”. The installation took some considerable time (as expected for 3.5GB+) just to finish with compulsory online registration (if there is an option to skip that I didn’t find it). I really hate to be forced to do these registration thingies. I know that there are safety and piracy issues and provided extras and support and online opportunities and bla-bla-bla… but I still hate “these registration thingies” to extent that it can put me off buying the game in the first place.

However, the above paragraphs summed just about all negatives of the game I can think of. From that point on the game quickly won me over.

The main menu design was well designed and the music (Latin as one would expect) was very appealing. If the soundtrack was written especially for the game it is not praised enough in the adverts (later I found that the game “TROPICO” won the Original Music Composition category in the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards).

The game offers a good tutorial (4 mini levels with step-by-step instructions), which can be completed in less than a half hour. Playing the tutorial once provides you with all the skills you need to tackle the main campaign.

Apart from the tutorial there is also the main campaign, extra missions, sand box and challenges.

Once you start the real game, there are very interesting advisors, experts and different characters which provide you with opportunities to make money or inform you about different events and situations. The “communication” with them is fun. The graphics used for this are very good and the overall control is great.

So for marks out of 10 I’ll give it… on second thoughts it is too early to mark it. Let me tell you first some of the little details that won me over.

First the game does not average out statistical information for th populace, it is actually modelled (unlike most games in the genre). Everything is simulated down to the last newborn baby. Every person in the game belongs to different group and has different education and different level of happiness. The general outcome of any of the factors in the game (like happiness, average pay, election preferences, criminal activity and much more) is statistically generated from the whole population. I was really impressed by that. It opens endless possibilities and variety of game scenarios. For example, people have families (with family trees) and if you issue elimination order every member of the family becomes outraged… O, and you can’t kill children (thanks God for that!!!). I was horrified by the very thought that it may be possible so I checked.

Another very fascinating element of the game is the so-called avatar. You have the “EL PRESIDENTE” at your disposal (it represents yourself) in the game and you can move it around to boost people’s morale. I had a good 10 minutes of fun reading about the optional avatars and another 20 min of fun making a custom one.

And to go back again to the music: I personally am not the greatest Latin music lover, but I didn’t really mind it. The gamers are provided with the option to switch off the music, but I kept it on just to see how it influences me over longer period. It never became annoying or boring so it is safe to say – thumbs up from me for the music. It would be great if there was more musical variety. However, I was making a point for scarce use of computer space which contradicts with this. After all, everyone can listen to his/her own music while playing.

One possible bug is the control of the production and the products transport. After 4 days of playing I still cannot produce or transport or export goats cheese! It would be great if there was a map/scheme of the possible products and their relation to production facilities…

Overall Tropico 4 is a great game. I recommend it to any person with taste for construction and management simulation games. Even now that the review is done, I will continue playing the game for a long, long time to come. Surely that says it all.

The Duke

8 deposed capitalist pig-dogs out of 10

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