Review By: Siou Choy
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OK, all you budding fascists, Tea Partiers, and future middle managers of corporate America: looking for a quick place to out your inner dictator? Well, look no further, we got all you need right here. Tropico 4 lets you play from a list of real-life dictators, or you can create your own to rule several islands through 20 full campaigns. This time around, you’re forced to follow the campaigns in a prescribed order, which helps to provide a bit of a storyline, as well as providing another aspect of fascism for you – free will? Pshaw! Next you’ll be asking for rights and freedom of speech…can’t have that! Besides, the game can’t have you skipping ahead to bankrupt another person without first providing you with a good reason to do so, right?
You can no longer rule freely with an iron fist as you did in Tropico 3. Instead of having your run of things, this time around you need to form a ministry – several tasks cannot be completed without one. For example, you can’t issue edicts without one, and even if you want to do something as simple as form a Secret Police, you need to have a Minister of Interior in place first.
Tropico 4 behaves more like a real government than in prior iterations. You have to grease the right palms to get anything done or have favours done for you. Providing aid to a certain faction or taking a side between two powers can really affect the outcome.
There are eight factions on your island, which need to be kept happy lest they cause trouble, whether via peaceful methodology such as protesting or by means of direct action, laying siege to one of your businesses, farms or mines. And just to prove this is a real world analogue, nothing happens in a vacuum: some factions are linked to world powers, so acting against them can affect your rating with the US or USSR.
One definite improvement that became quickly apparent versus Tropico 3 is how much harder it is to get the US or USSR to invade your island this time around. Even with a low rating, I was never invaded - the only time I ever lost the game was when I lost an election. Further, instead of only dealing with the US and USSR as in prior iterations of the game, in Tropico 4 you also have to deal with other emerging world powers such as China, the Middle East and Europe. Similarly, your trading is done with several countries around the world rather than just the two former super powers.
Another positive change in Tropico 4 is how tasks you need to complete are listed on the right side of the screen. These also display your progress in relation to each task and how close you are to completing a given task. The only negative here is in how the game limits you to five tasks at any time. So when a sixth task gets added (such as an election, or when you have to fend of the rebels), you’re pretty much screwed. Similarly, there should have been an option to remove one of the agreed upon tasks at any point. There was one instance where I was to export smoked beef. I had several ranches raising cattle and a smoke house in each, and yet I never exported a single pound of smoked beef. I’m not sure if this was because the people on the island were eating it all up on me or something, but this task stayed on my list through the entire campaign, preventing me from completing other tasks which I knew could easily be accomplished. Tasks appear onscreen with a poorly aped Hirschfeld style caricature of a given party making the request – for example, Sunny the Environmentalist might ask you to demolish all the lumber mills or El Diablo might demand that you kill foreigners. You don’t have to accept every task asked of you, but refusing will lower your standing with a certain group or faction.
Posted: 2012-01-09 20:54:41 PST