Gaming Guru review of Tropico 4

Gaming Guru review of <i>Tropico 4</i>

Credit: Kalypso Media

Gaming Guru review of Tropico 4


by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 2:29 PM

“Congratulations El Presidente, you have been elected again and this time the elections were honest!”  Tropico 4 is here.  Are you ready rule a tiny island and make it into something more?  Dress up in your finest military fatigues and bulletproof vest, we are going to address your loving public.


You are “El Presidente” in Tropico 4, who has grand visions for your little island empire.  Set in the cold war time frame it is up you to grow your tiny nation to be a super-power on par with the rest of the world.  That is the campaign in a nutshell.  Simple and to the point, it is broken up over 20 scenarios on 10 maps, each focusing on different aspects of the game.

Controls and Gameplay

Tropico 4 is a three part mix of city building, resource management, and politics simulators. 
City building is much like most city simulators.  You have your choice of homes and industries at varying levels of cost and quality to place on your island.  Some choices are unavailable until you buy blueprints for them, others require you to build other things first, such as building a power plant before you can build condos.

Resource management is how you make most of you money.  Placing farms and factories or balancing imports and exports, you have to decide how much you use for your people and how much you will use to export or trade.

The politics in Tropico 4 come into play with not only dealing with cold war era America and Russia, but your own people.  The population of your island is made up of many factions including capitalists, communists, loyalists, environmentalists and others, each with their own wants and needs.  Finding a way to keep all sides happy will help, not only in elections, but to prevent rebellions or military coups.

Working together, all three of these aspects make the whole of your gameplay experience.  In placing farms you have to decide what type of farm it will be.  Will it be one that grows food for your people, which will please the communists, or will it be crops for export, pleasing the capitalists.  Placing almost anything on the map will have some effect to one faction or another; it’s all about finding a balance.

Graphics and Sound

Bright and colorful, the graphics of Tropico 4 capture the feel of an island paradise by way of the more scenic elements of Cuba.  Same with the audio, it’s something that it gives an overall effect.   The architecture of the buildings, the dress of the people, the accents they speak and soundtrack of Latin rhythms all speak to the bygone eras of the 1950’s-‘60’s in Cuba or Central America.  Combine it all together puts the game in a proper setting with how it should feel.

One fault I do give it here is that the soundtrack repeats after an hour or so. 


To be quite honest I thought Tropico 4 was going to be a different game.  When I first played it I found it to be a lot deeper.  Because of that I delayed this review.  I wanted more time with it.

Other city-simulation games did not prepare me for this.  If you go in thinking you can just build a city, maybe set some taxes and be done with it you will lose.  In Tropico 4 you really have to listen to the people.  The first scenario I played through I did some of the things asked of me by the factions, but started building things the way I wanted.  Opposition snuck up on me.  I saw messages pop up telling me certain numbers of people were becoming criminals and specific people were joining the rebels, so I built one police station and also enacted the secret police edict.  Too little, too late.  Communist rebels overthrew my government.  Game over.

The second time through I paid attention to everything.  Checked my almanac to get an overall mood of the people, built mostly only things that were asked for, and if I had extra money built things I wanted.  In the end while I didn’t have the full support of all the factions (environmentalists were at 0% and the religious faction was at 15%)  I had at least 45% or more support to give me a nice win.

While listening to your people is one thing, you also have to pay attention to your foreign relations too.  In Tropico 4 both America and Russia provide you with financial support; something vitally needed at the start of scenarios to jumpstart your own economy.  As the scenarios progress both them and other nations will ask for resources or provide support that you can use, especially if Mother Nature throws you a curve ball such as a tornado or earthquake.

As intriguing as Tropico 4 was, it does move along slow.   You can put it into fast forward if you want, but even so the scenarios still move slowly.  In one scenario I ended up playing it for four hours before finally finishing it with a victory.

Tropico 4 has some deep gameplay, perfectly tailored for people that are great at multi-tasking, but I found a bit slow for my taste, but I still enjoyed it.  I give Tropico 4 a 4 out of 5.

Tropico 4 is rated T of Teen for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.  It is available now for Windows PC, coming soon to Xbox 360, see the Tropico 4 web site for more details.

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