Sunday, April 6, 2014

6 days of...Tropico 4!


PENULTIMO, we've got to get this portrait while the sun is up!
With the announcement of Tropico 5 coming out later this year (with our favorite dictator playing a part reminiscent of one of our favorite pirates) I decided to re-play Tropico 4 with some of the enhancements and DLC packages that were recently on sale. Tropico 4 happens to be my favorite city/country building game, and hides so much depth but has plenty of accessibility for people just coming to the genre. Not to mention the atmosphere is absolutely addicting. 

Seriously, I love the music. I'll talk about everything else in a bit, but the atmosphere that the music and voice acting creates for the game definitely gives it soul. Mariachi music blaring from my computer and the horns of the industrial sector of my city convince me that what I've created has substance. The voice acting of the international leaders and constant radio broadcasts are comical and at the same time engrossing. I love hearing praise and snide remarks from political group leaders letting me know exactly how my choices are affecting the lives of the population. 

This helps with the depth of the game, because without the comical side, Tropico could be very intimidating. Every person on your island has their own set of statistics and meters that feed into a larger pool of political powers on your island. Those powers make up a balance that you have to cater to if you want to keep order in your slice of the world. Every time you enter your "Almanac" which houses the statistics of the island and the world you can get lost. It is time consuming, but having visible data makes the weight of your decisions heavier and the results more compelling. 

I marked much of my time by the shipping and receiving cycles of my docks, since that is the major source of income on the island. The collective work of your Tropicans keeps your cycle of building ticking on the island. Other than international aid, your population and their work is what keeps you afloat. This cycle is natural with time, but jumping thousands of dollars every few minutes can be jarring at first. Knowing what your income and expenses are is important unless you want to ruin your reputation with the powers that be. 

PENULTIMO! Did you re-work the city zoning
so I get a perfect view of the ocean yet!?
Again this is all part of a complex balance that the game gradually introduces you to. After some time and lots of practice it comes very naturally to develop your political agenda and form the popular opinion to your needs. Even if you don't have the popular opinion, fear generally works just as well. Tropico 4 is a game that revels in the choice to establish and develop a country however you please. There are eventually challenges that increase the difficulty in case you want more of a challenge. Honestly though, the game is fun enough and balanced that the challenge isn't needed to make the game a blast. 

The entire game is placed during a period strongly resembling the Cold War, including a cast of characters that are memorable from that political arena. I've never seen a country building game put you into this type of archetype, but it works wonderfully. The context that it generates allows for in-jokes and references that otherwise would be lost in a sea of history. Focusing the period allows for things that other games would never comfortably be able to achieve. I would like to delve more into why this makes Tropico 4 so amazing, but in short it just makes the game that much more memorable. 

PENULTIMO! Of course we're not going to have elections.
Have you seen my ratings?
I only wish that my current schedule allowed for me to play the game more often. Each of the 20 story missions takes at least 3+ hours unless you're rushing. Counting that up is about 50 or more hours of game play in just the story alone. Not counting free play which includes all the amazing features of the campaign and allows you to carry your nation into an imagined future with slightly more advanced buildings. The only problem is that if you don't have the time in your schedule to feed the addiction it's easy to go through withdraws from the gripping atmosphere.

You'll like this game if: You want the challenge of playing the US off the USSR in a nuclear standoff while smuggling illegal goods internationally and running the worlds best resort location. Also if you always wanted your own Penultimo. (PENULTIMO GO COUNT MY MONEY AGAIN!)

(If you had a different opinion or a new video game to suggest, leave a comment below! If you want to recieve regular updates, follow me on Twitter @SimonGolden)

No comments:

Post a Comment