Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tropico 4

The Tropico franchise has been great from the beginning, and Tropico 4 is no exception.

For those unfamiliar with the games, you play as the dictator of a Caribbean island. You have to guide your country, making them prosperous either through trade or tourism. You have to deal with rebels and foreign governments, all the while trying to siphon away as much money as you can into a Swiss bank account. Well, not all the games were like that. Tropico 2 was about pirates. Go figure.

In many ways, Tropico 4 is just a spit-polished version of Tropico 3. The building models are pretty much the same (although the graphics are better). You still build your dictator from the ground up, selecting a background, a rise to power, and three traits, all of which give you particular bonuses and, in a few cases, hinders your performance. And then you're set loose on an island with agricultural and mineral resources.

The really interesting difference between the previous game and this one was the inclusion of a twenty mission campaign with a coherent storyline, one of a meteoric rise, betrayal, and revenge. That was a fun surprise; each mission forces the player to focus on a different aspect of island building. In one, you have to build a tourist mecca. In another, an industrial powerhouse. There were points where I was left scratching my head. For example, one mission took me a really long time, not ending until the game year hit the '90s. The next mission started in 1955. I realize it's a game mechanic that can't be helped, but it was a little odd.

Included in the game is the usual sandbox mode as well, allowing you a freeform game to play however you like.

I really like this game. It has some wry wit and humor and provides enough of a challenge to keep me coming back for more. I have no idea if a 5 is in the cards, but if it is, I'll be dusting off my dictator hat for another go-around.

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