Greetings citizens of Tropico!!! Since El Presidente can't be available to comment due to liquidation of his Swiss bank accounts and a reported scandal regarding the llamas found in his palace, I've been given the generous task of running the island. Today my fellow EvilAvasters I shall shed new light into the future of Tropico as we move forward into modern times. This review by your humble servant lockwoodx is but a first step towards our independence from the tyrannical grip of big media, so join me and rise up. Power to the people!!! I've always been a fan of Micro/Macro sims and Tropico 4: Modern Times is no exception. Having played the crap out of the third installment in the series, when asked if I'd do a review of Modern Times there was no question this would be a fun game to cover. Tropico's political satire makes this game perfect for adults but the mechanics and flow allow for ease of use whether you're an entry level gamer or old crusty pro like myself. Now lots of reviews are suppose to tell you about "new features" and are full of hype, but I'm taking a different approach to this. I'm here to tell you if it's fun or not and why, so keep reading to find out and thank you for taking the time to.
Your role of course is the Dictator/Ruler of a small tropical island set in the Caribbean. The island has all the natural resources needed for success, so long as you can keep your citizens productive, comfortable, and happy. This is only scratching the surface tho, for the real meat and potatoes of this building simulation lies in the politics of not only keeping your citizens loyal and docile, but outside political influences playing a game of "tug of war" to win you over, or find an excuse to invade you. (which is one of the more easy ways to lose the game) Some of the game's highlights include being able to issue "Edicts" like printing your own money, establishing a secret police to spy on rebellious citizens, and erecting monuments to yourself. Everything comes at a price tho, and while printing money sounds like fun, the cost of inflation cripples your economy and treating your poor citizens like dirt can cause full blown rebellions. Luckily as El Presidente you've got the power to snuff out those you dislike, just don't expect it to go unnoticed among your people.
Now lets jump ahead to Modern Times which thrusts you into a series of scenarios that deal with the real world and changing times. For a tiny little banana republic like Tropico who's stuck in cold war times this can be a daunting task for any ruler. The game has a host of colorful personalities who mock foreign officials that are constantly hounding you with objectives for the players to complete from modernizing your industry to supplying then with weapons and cigars. If that wasn't bad enough there's a psudo illuminati organization called the "CABAL" working against you for their own devious agenda. Sucks for them I was too busy ruling with an iron fist to bother with their needs. Bwhahhaaha!!
Paradise never looked so good, or was such a pain in the ass to maintain
Some of these goals can be fun and rewarding but others (especially the ones with the time limits) can outright end the game if you fail to complete them which ramps up the difficulty curve in Modern Times substantially over Tropico 3's traditionally laid back style of game play. To make matters worse, many of the "modern" advancements such as converting your fishing wharfs into ecological fishing farms provides little benefit over the original yet much higher upkeep. If that wasn't bad enough, once the game decides you must modernize them, they remove the older version making it impossible to go with cheaper options. As for the new buildings and structures they tend to stick out like sore thumbs amongst the slum like traditional 3rd world atmosphere we've come to expect and adore about running your own little Havana. There's even space and nuclear programs via edicts that truly let you feel like you're pushing the envelope into the modern age, but as progressive and fun as it seems your people buck you at every opportunity with their own selfish needs making trying to manage your country more of a chore than enjoyable.
Luckily, like the previous Tropico this one boasts a robust latin sountrack full of salsa and mambo that will keep your foot tapping the entire time. While I sorely miss my beloved Juanito who was the DJ from #3, Modern Times instead allows the different advisors to chime in from time to time as you complete new structures or make difficult political decisions that affect the island's future. (off-shore nuclear testing is a personal favorite of mine) The humor in their dialogue is well written and appreciated to help break up the mundane moments of the game. Sadly, the Modern Times expansion and Tropico 4 in general still suffer from overly needless micromanagement and somewhat dated graphics. With a limited queue for special tasks, they pile up faster than you can complete them making it frustrating when forced to turn down beneficial objectives when you're already locked into mandatory ones. It can seem absolutely daunting at times, as if the game was purposely designed to run your country into the ground no matter how well you manage it. Having said that tho, I thoroughly enjoy the title and little touches that truly make you feel like you're in modern times. (the same sex marriage edict is a great example)
All in all if Tropico 4, and it's expansion Modern Times wasn't so pricy for what you get compared to their previous title Tropico 3, I'd give this a solid 4 to 4.5 Evil Eyes but in its current state the game is a "bargain buy
" and look to snag it when a Steam sale rolls around.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Evil Eyes