In the strategy and simulation game Tropico 4 you assume the role of a dictator, who is ruling a group of small islands. Your job is to develop each island and to accomplish various objectives given to you through the cunning use of flawed banking systems, domestic and international politics and the odd assassination. So the Russians want 500 units of spiced rum? Let’s build some sugar plantations, a distillery and upgrade it so that it produces spiced rum from the sugar! Even if this might sound a little boring to some people, please believe me when I say it’s not: Humor is an important aspect in Tropico 4 and being a dictator turns out to be surprisingly entertaining, even these days, when dictators fall left and right all over the world.
The attention to detail is amazing: You’ll spend most of your time zoomed out on the map, but if you zoom in every now and then and have a look at all the tiny animations, you’ll be impressed by everything that’s going on. Place your dictator outside an army base and he will wait for the next soldier to go on duty, give him a medal and clap his hands. The soldier will in turn salute and move on with his business. I get the feeling that the people working on Tropico 4 really have enjoyed what they have been doing and when people enjoy themselves, the result is pretty good more often than not.
Now, even though Tropico 4 is a very entertaining game, it’s more or less the same game as its predecessor, Tropico 3. The graphics are upgraded, some aspects are tweaked a bit (like the Council of Ministers and how you now always start with a garage, whereas you didn’t in Tropico 3), there are some new buildings and a few fresh edicts, but Tropico 4 feels more like an expansion to Tropico 4 than a new game. And when one of the highlights the publisher decides to focus on when comparing Tropico 4 to Tropico 3 is “Facebook and Twitter integration”, you know that they, too, are having problems justifying calling Tropico 4 a new game.
Still, something good comes out of all that: If you enjoyed Tropico 3, you’ll also enjoy Tropico 4. It’s the same game, but everything is a little better. It’s not a game you’ll sit down and play from start to finish in one go, it’s rather one you’ll play for a couple of hours, then you forget about it for a few months, before you’re back, ruling another island.