Have you ever played ‘The Sim’s’ franchise and wished it just had a little more touch of class and intelligence to it? Whilst EA’s Sim’s games can offer a fun, entertaining way to control people – for gamers who want a more objective based, brutal and greater constructive approach to being master of their own worldly creations – Tropico 4, developed by Haemimont Games and published by Kalypso Media can offer you everything where others fail.
Being the President of your own nation you take control of a small Caribbean Island as the El Presidente in the 1950’s. Initially your population is very small, but before long your island is growing in size with visiting immigrants and tourists – your objectives are to build farms, housing and factories to maintain the food, imports & exports of goods as well as give your population somewhere to work and live. A few hours into it, you will be assigning your own government and addressing worldly political issues that affect your own tropical island. Whilst the game may at first appear very deep with the political and economic aspects of being a world leader, it’s actually focused around the choices you make for your inhabitants which determine if your objective missions are to be a success or failure. All the people that live on your island have their own unique traits, needs, work experience and education levels – whilst you can easily please some, don’t think you can win them all. Every action has consequences!
Just like any other real-life island, people need food and money to live through their everyday lives. In Tropico 4, people live in homes that you build, pay the rent that you charge and the quality of the housing available is also your own choice. They will work in your offices, you will train soldiers, develop farms, mines, and even marketplaces in which to trade. Having your own shore based docks ensure that imports and exports of goods can be maintained as well as provide a steady stream of tourism. As the El Presidente, you will face threats of assassination, your people will turn to crime and occasionally your workers will go on strike! How you deal with all of the situations in the game will change the outlook of your island with each mission. You will be presented with varied choices that will affect the lives of the people and the outlook of your position as a leader. Not only are you dealing with the quality of life for the people on your island, but everyday natural disasters can be a given threat at any given time such as, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, droughts – and even Tsunami’s!
The Campaign itself within Tropico 4 features twenty individual missions all taking place on different fictional Islands spread across the Caribbean. Some missions are lengthier than others, especially as you progress, but average out to about an hour per mission. It is a requirement that you must complete your current mission before being able to unlock another, but all unlocked missions are re-playable from the games Main Menu. There is also Sandbox and Challenge Modes available as extra options within the game to add further re-play value. Sandbox mode as you may expect, greatly allows you to customise your game experience with set parameters to determine your created game’s difficulty level. If you want to stamp out Immigrants, you can do so – as such you can also change the amount of Tourists and Population on your island, but an optional God Mode ensures no elections, rebel attacks and foreign invasions should you enable it, you will never run out of funds either so you can create your ultimate island and choose all your own rules. The Challenges are special scenarios that are meant to be online in its own Challenge Browser – currently at the time of writing this review no online challenges were available online.
The games controls at first can seem intimidating because of all the different options and menus available to aid you in your quest for domination. It is highly recommended to complete the tutorial section of the game first to get to grips with all the offerings and type of challenges that you may face; when you have mastered all the controls you will feel more at ease with the main Campaign. Once you are on your island you can freely wonder your control sticks over the entire area and use each of the buttons to bring up individual options, tasks and requests mainly over people and buildings. Other menu options include and Almanac for statistical purposes and Edicts to issue different nationwide presidential requests and laws.
At the times when you are faced with new objectives, a notification screen or icon will appear to alert you of the details and you can easily press the Back button to highlight a complete list of tasks to fulfil before the game will move on in time. Most of the tasks offer rewards on completion, such as increased money, improved faction standing with your communities and occasionally secret rewards.
Visually the game is quite inviting as it’s based on the lush green offerings of the Caribbean. It’s only when you pan in your camera close up that you tend to be aware of some poor visuals and a few jagged edges, but these are rarely noticeable since the game is best played panned out a little to monitor the goings-on of your citizens and buildings. There are no general complaints over the games use of camera control either because how you view the island is completely dependent on how you set the view modes. You can zoom in, out, tilt to different angles and set it to your own liking.
Tropico 4 will really appeal to gamers who like to spend some thought and time into developing new situations with a strategic approach to the outcome. If you like games such as The Sims, or even Harvest Moon – then this really is the next level of control and customisation, plus it’s quite addictive and at times very challenging. It’s a single player only game with endless amounts of replay value because each island, each play through would achieve different results based on your own choices of how you want to control your situations. This is currently the best strategy game available for the Xbox 360 and instead of just taking our word for it – why not download the Demo today straight to your console via the link below: