When we first reviewed Tropico 4 it was on its traditional home of the PC and it was a brilliant entry in a series that has a dedicated fan base. Having sold well on PC and attracted a great deal of aspiring despots, it now moves to consoles where Haemimont Games hope it will attract a whole new legion of dictators. As with any management game of this type, the main challenge is taking a game that works perfectly with mouse and keyboard and finding a control scheme that works almost as well on a control pad.
For the most part Haemimont have done a good job. Using a combination controls and making use of all of the buttons on the pad means that it is playable, if somewhat time consuming to adjust to. Once you get used to the controls and learn its complexities its actually very quick to get to the commands that you are looking for. That being said, there’s a degree of frustration involved when you know exactly what you want to do but can’t remember exactly which menu and combination of triggers and face buttons you need to use to find it. The camera movement is also a little unwieldy at first and it takes a bit of practice to learn how to position it exactly where you need it. In some ways it similar to the recent god game “From Dust” that similarly uses a control stick to move around a top-down game world. Once you adjust its actually quicker to access some commands on console than it is on PC, but only after many hours of play.
Another hurdle that the console gamer may need to get over is the complexity of Tropico. If you have played previous games in the series it won’t be as much of an issue, but for those new to these games there’s a substantial learning curve. The tutorial is pretty good, but it is by necessity very long and involves a whole series of Simon-says tasks that you must simply follow along with. Build a school, select your Presidente, move your Presidente, build a farm, change farm production to bananas, hire some foreign workers….. There’s a never ending series of tasks you simply have to work through and until you do you won’t have much idea of what your doing. Even then, simply running through these tasks doesn’t give you an idea of WHY you are doing them and it takes more experimentation to figure out exactly how your economy works. That beings said, getting things wrong is fun in its own right as you react to all sorts of South America themed threats like coups and assassination attempts.
For more details on the actual content of the game, check out The Duke’s review of the PC version. If you’re new to the series and not sure if a console version really works, let me assure you that this is as good as a console Tropico can be and is as good as you could hope for on a controller. It does everything it can to welcome the Tropico noob to what is ultimately a complex and rich management game and the subtle black humour along with the absolutely pitch-perfect soundtrack make it fun even when you are just learning the basics. In fact, Tropico 4 is one of those games that you don’t mind letting run idle in the background whilst you do something else just to soak up those Latin grooves.
We have already recommended Tropico 4 to all you wannabe armchair Dictators out there. As Haemimont Games have managed to create a port that retains the charm of the original without breaking the experience in its translation to console, there’s only one question that needs to be answered: What kind of Presidente will you be?
8 capitalists, rounded-up and shot out of 10