Elected to office for another term, El Presidente returns in Tropico 4 Gold Edition, bringing together the original Tropico 4 and the Modern Times expansion. Much like its predecessors, you are put in charge of a tropical island with the duty to keep the people of Tropico content through a kind heart, or a brutal dictatorship – just beware any signs of a revolution, it won’t end well for el presidente.
Through the decades el presidente will hopefully remain in office, the little uneducated backwards society will transform into a thriving nation through development, industry and tourism. It’s a constant balance of giving in to the needs of the people, whether it be improving the education system, providing nightly entertainment or providing “green” alternatives to keep the hippies off your back. At the same time, foreign countries are vying for Tropico to back the “winning” side. Don’t be afraid to make some wrong decisions along the way, or ones that will fatten your own private bank account.
Playing through the 30+ mission campaign, that’s including the Modern Times expansion, main objectives and optional objectives will come and go as progress is made. Each of the missions can last a few hours and if you can’t stand Latin dance music, you may find yourself playing in silence. While not a fan of that style of music, the catchy beats will overwhelm you and eventually you will learn to live with it. Even now, writing this review I find myself humming the tunes of Tropico. I found most of my time spent in the relaxing Sandbox Mode, allowing me to build as I desire without having to deal with mission objectives.
The sheer amount of information presented can be staggering, but don’t let this be discouraging. The game does a great job at keeping relevant information together, while presenting it through various methods. Seeing shacks sprout up like weeds throughout the island, and you know housing isn’t adequate enough. Providing stats for every inhabitant on your island with a simply click, makes it no longer a guessing game on why a certain citizen appears unhappy. Listed among the happiness levels are various ways to “remove” someone from the island; whether it’s by force, is up to you. Having an 88 year old retiree assassinated in public view didn’t bode well for the upcoming election – even if she had to coming. On the plus side, everyone will think twice now about jaywalking on my island!
Examining any of your structures, including farms, mines and restaurants allows the management of employed staff as well as wages to be adjusted. If there are openings, hiring an immigrant is a possibility, but runs the risk of losing support from nationalists, while increasing wages will entice more people to work there at the cost of your treasury. The almanac shows approval ratings across the entire island giving a quick overview on improvements that need to be made. Electricity and air conditioning are usually a good spot to start improving housing, and keeping people happy. Ordering edicts are the best way to boost support for your reign such as declaring a National Day, complete with fireworks every year, Social Security, free housing, as well as things dealing with foreign policies and defense spending.
Doing an adequate job at teaching the basics surrounding “why” you should build a farm to produce food or a clinic to maintain a certain level of health care, the campaign doesn’t quite execute the “how” function all that well. For this we turn to the tutorial which will teach you all of the controls for the game, from how to build structures and roads, ordering edicts, dealing with foreign affairs and more. While being overly familiar with strategy games, I opted to run through the tutorial – especially since I played through the game on Xbox 360.
The addition of a quick-build option keeps things moving at a faster pace than most games, but at a high price. Blowing $50,000+ in less than a minute, ended up becoming my downfall. Electricity stopped flowing and with it, a full revolt by the majority of the population. If you lack the necessary patience, increasing the game speed is your only other option. If your funds drop into the negatives, the relations with foreign countries will deteriorate. Falling $10,000 in the hole, and you will be in serious trouble. It may sound like a lot, but it happens more often than not if you aren’t careful. Cash crops such as tobacco, sugar and coffee become a necessity enable to earn even profit through the year to get out of the red. Too many times I had to rely on the end of the funds from other nations just to break even.
With the Modern Times expansion, the goal of sending a Tropico citizen into space can be realized, as well as building towering skyscrapers and eco-friendly solar power plants. One of the key improvements allows the modernization of older buildings. No longer will you have to set cockroach infested apartment buildings to demolish one by one, but instead renovation can take place across every one – turning them into modern apartment buildings with a higher standard living. For one reason or another, not all buildings are able to be renovated, which becomes a minor annoyance when trying to “modernize” the nation. Having a “select all” option for building types would go a long way, considering wages can be set across similar jobs, as well as the rent.
Tropico 4 Gold Edition is the definitive way to experience Tropico. With the inclusion of Modern Times, it was a pleasure seeing towering glass structures completely dwarf older buildings, as well as seeing the visual improvements since the last game that help liven the experience. Blimps and balloons floating high above the city adds a charming touch, randomized visuals buildings and gardens keep things from feeling stale – even el presidente can be customized with a variety of different outfits. Nothing says “obey me” like a hooded sweatshirt, jeans and a crown.
Note: The Tropico 4 Gold Edition review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher.