Tropico 4 Review
This tropical paradise is great fun for strategy gamers, as long as El Presidente is kept happy
Throughout the missions, players will be faced with a fairly large number of objectives. Some are key to winning the mission (and are presented as such), while others are secondary and only serve to boost your income or political relations. The island’s population is once again composed of a number of parties, from the environmentalists to nationalists and communists. Many of these parties will constantly update you with their needs and demands, and provide optional objectives that, if completed, would boost the respect of that party. However, if a party has a small following, completely ignoring them is OK too, as it won’t affect the election results much. Foreign leaders will also provide you with tasks, and they function much in the same way.
Some objectives are reasonable, like building a few new farms or increasing the number of troops on the island, while others are a bit wild, like asking you to build a $50k structure. Players will have to choose wisely – not only because there is a limit on how many tasks can be active at once, but also because there is no way to dismiss them once agreed. The former is OK, as tasks that you aren’t able to accept will remain on the map until you dismiss them, and if you already satisfy the request, the objective will be completed as soon as it’s accepted. On the other hand, there is no way to dismiss objectives that you’ve already accepted, so you may oftentimes find yourself stuck with things you can’t or don’t want to do. In one mission, two farms were requested by the communist party. Figuring it an easy task, after accepting you’ll come to realize that for the particular mission, farms aren’t actually available to be built. It goes to show that the objectives are mostly random, and it’s frustrating not being able to dismiss them.
Issuing edicts (laws) is still a unique part of the Tropico experience, though things have been tweaked a bit. In order to issue edicts in most of the categories, a Ministry must first be built and acceptable leaders selected from the population (or hired). This is a neat addition, though after completing your hires, there is no longer term impact as all edicts are now available to be issued. Much like before, these range from dictatorial tactics of martial law to the nice senior citizen pension programs. Issuing edicts often has an effect on the general happiness of the population. However, unlike the happiness of political parties, the users aren’t able to see what modifiers are causing the mood. For example, a player can find out why a certain nation or political party hates or loves them, with various modifiers to look at. On the other hand, it’s impossible to know why exactly your population is extremely unhappy with their liberties and medical options.
Keeping the populace happy is just a minor point to the ultimate goal of having a large amount of money. The economy in the game is decently balanced, and players can track their expenses and adjust public services as necessary. Difficulty of financial upkeep is mitigated somewhat by purely random monetary donations from USSR and USA, which are always enough to keep your economy afloat. There’s little reason given to these donations, other than being a staple feature of the series, but it makes the newly introduced Europe, China, and Middle East feel undermined and like just another source of tasks to complete. Even if your relationship with one or two countries completely deteriorates (difficult to do on its own right), there’s no impact on the game, at least not in the many hours played during the missions. A takeover is possible, but you need to have extremely poor relations and no support from everyone else for it to happen – in which case you’re simply greeted with a Game Over screen.
In what has become a rare and well created aspect of the franchise, the citizens of Tropico 4 are indeed alive and personable. Every little person on the island has a life, and clicking on them reveals a wealth of personal information. Their home, income, thoughts, family tree, and much more. This is the kind of stuff that even the Sims would be jealous of, let alone other RTS titles. Players can interact with that information as well, mostly in choosing a way to dispatch of a troublemaker citizen.
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