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on September 7, 2011
I've read people saying "should have been an expansion" - just like Tropico 3, etc. and I have to wonder how long they played it before they wrote their review. I've played through all the missions (20 in total) and I can say that Tropico 4 holds its own as a new addition to the series. There are a ton of differences. Here are all the NEW elements of Tropico 4.

1) All new radio announcements/announcers throughout the game. Yes, Juanito is gone, but he does get his "revenge" on you in one of the missions. My favorite radio line after I ruled for 50 years... "it is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of El Presidente (pause)... JUST KIDDING! We all know El Presidente will never die."

2) Voice acting. This is separate from the radio announcers. All the characters now talk, something they didn't do in Tropico 3. And there are a lot of characters too. This alone is a huge improvement over Tropico 3.

3) Interactive Disasters (plus several new disasters too). What's an "interactive disaster?" It's where you play a role and your decisions dictate some of the disaster effects. For example, during an oil spill, you determine how much you want to clean up. That dictates how polluted your waters become. During a drought you have to manually water your fields if you chose to conserve water. And the disasters are all animated. You see the tsunami hit your island and it even deposits a crashed ship somewhere on your island. You may get anywhere from 1-3 tornadoes hitting your island at once.

3) Tons of new buildings. I think I read there were 20. And these aren't puny buildings either. The Stock Market, for example, allows you to control the privatization of your island. So one building comes with an entire network of new features to give you another approach to making money in the game. The weather station helps forecast disasters so that your citizens can be warned. You'll still lose buildings, but your citizens will get out of harms way and loss of life will be minimized. The fire station helps put out fires. Fire trucks race to the building, and little firemen get out with their hoses and fight the fire. These are all huge advances over Tropico 3.

4) Rebuild Feature. In Tropico 3, when you lost a building, you had to go search for it again in the menu, rebuild it, then reapply any upgrades you had on the building. In Tropico 4 when a building is lost, you have a little Rebuild icon that shows up. Click it and your building is automatically rebuilt with all the features you had applied to it before (you have to pay for it, of course).

5) Quick Build. One of the frustrations of Tropico 3 was trying to build a bunch of buildings and having to wait forever for your builders to get them all done. Tropico 4 has a Quick Build option where, for a premium price, you can instantly construct the building. I probably use this more than any other feature.

6) A new in-depth campaign with several cut scenes. The campaign is the most in-depth storyline in the history of the Tropico series. There are 20 missions on 10 maps (wish it was 20 maps). Now the interesting thing about this is that after you start the campaign, through the course of the first several missions there are "cut scenes" that help move the story along. Now this is great and a huge improvement over Tropico 3. HOWEVER... it appears that the developers ran out of time or got lazy at the end because as the missions go on the cut scenes get fewer and fewer then disappear altogether. So I have mixed feelings about this. But as far as stories go, this is a pretty darn good one.

7) Remembering your deeds. The game remembers your deeds. So something you do in one of the first several missions can come back to play a role in missions later on when you least expect it. I like this feature.

8) Instead of just dealing with the U.S. and USSR, you are now also dealing with China, Europe, and the Middle East. Now unlike the U.S. and USSR, they don't send you financial aid. But your relationship with them does have import/export ramifications.

9) In game challenges. One of the biggest new additions to Tropico 4 is in-game challenges that have an effect on your relationship with different factions or foreign countries. The USSR may want you to quietly send them exports of Iron. The environmentalists may want you to build new gardens, etc. These challenges appear as icons over buildings. You click it, read the challenge/reward, and decide if you want to take on the challenge or not. This helps you dictate the direction of your game and improve with factions your having problems gaining respect from.

10) You can now import! If you're lacking a resource on your island, you can still build an industry around it by importing. You can also dictate what countries to allow importing from and how much to import. It's a huge new feature for those dependent on Industry to win games.

11) Skill Upgrades. Before you would select a skill and the effect would be the same for every mission. Now when you select a skill/trait and complete a mission, you get an additional star next to that trait (up to 5 stars) which improves its abilities.

All put together, those are huge improvements that obviously took thousands of hours to program, much longer than it would have taken to create an "expansion pack". I wouldn't be surprised if the developers are put off by people saying it should have been an expansion. I'd hate to see the company stop developing the game altogether. There are many more new things I didn't mention like all new music and the Facebook and Twitter integration. Thank goodness you can turn the Facebook/Twitter integration off if you don't care for them. :-) There's the new Challenge editor, online leaderboards, etc.

Now, with that said, there are ways the game can be improved going forward:

1) They need to deal with the transportation issue. Roads are built the same way as in Tropico 3 and there are no new transportation methods to get citizens from point A to point B. Ideally the developers would add things like Buses or highways and also increase the SQUEEZE to get to the shore where the docks are. Yes, I said docks (plural). Unlike past Tropico games, you can now build multiple docks! Another thing I'd like to see is the ability to build bridges.

2) I'd like to see them allow you to work on multiple islands at once. The game screens/islands are getting huge. Why not make one that has four islands that you can develop at the same time on the same map?

3) One of the key features of Tropico is to have your own Swiss Bank Account (Slush Fund) that you can channel money to. While this is fun, it serves no purpose. You can't do anything in the game with that money. I'd like to see this flushed out so that El Presidente can buy things with the money. One idea is to be able to buy luxuries for yourself (i.e. yatch, plane, etc.). Another completely separate idea would to build your own Presidente Mansion. You have a piece of land set aside that is El Presidente's "home" away from the palace. You can continually buy upgrades with your Swiss Bank Account and watch your mansion grow. Being able to spend the money would make the game more fun and interactive.

I really like this game and hope that people buy it so that we see more expansions and versions in the future. I hate to see good games die (i.e. SimCity and the Roller Coaster Tycoon Series - although rumor is that Atari is in the pre-production stages of bringing the Roller Coaster Tycoon series back to the marketplace). Tropico 4 is definitely a five star game and does stand on its own.

Update: 10/3/2011 - This game is still a blast. One new thing I discovered is that Kalypso completely overhauled the map/game editor in Tropico 4, allowing people to make challenge missions that others can download and play. I created one titled "Texas Tea" and am getting ready to release another. While this is a great feature that keeps playability going after the game campaign, I must admit that I wish there was more content from Kalypso. There's a section in the Tropico 4 menu called "Extra Missions". When you click it, you get a message that says, "there are no extra missions." :( In addition to the campaign, there should have been some stand alone missions to play. However, I'm not complaining too loudly about that as I'm having fun creating my own missions for others to play.

Update: 10/17/2011 - I just released another custom challenge called "7 Flags Tropico" that includes "cut scenes" (via YouTube) and is the first part of a campaign.

I should also add that Tropico 4 has Facebook/Twitter integration. The reason I didn't post that in my original review is because it was the very first thing I disabled and thus I forgot it existed. If you want everyone knowing what El Presidente is doing or want to share pics of your island then this may be a feature you enjoy.
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on September 2, 2011
For those of you who've played and loved the previous Tropicos: Tropico 4 is very similar to Tropico 3 - same graphics, same edicts, identical descriptions for many items, many of the same buildings, same overall idea. I bought Tropico 4 (through Steam) because to me, the new missions are worth it and it's still going to give me hours of entertainment but I do think the price is high for what is essentially an expansion pack (otherwise I'd have given it 5 stars).

So what IS new in Tropico 4? First of all, there's the most annoying part - you have to sign up for an account with Kalypso (the publisher) in order to play the game (so for your $40 you get a game AND spam!). In the game itself, you get some new buildings (Academy of Science, Stock Exchange, a bunch of tourism buildings, and a few others). You can choose to "Quick build" stuff, which costs more money, but could be handy in some cases. You also get little optional objectives throughout the game, which reward you with money or other things. There are a few new disasters, and more countries to be friendly with aside from the US and USSR. Oh yeah, and you can post your achievements on Facebook and Twitter (which I personally don't care about).

If you've never played the Tropico series, here's the review for you: it's a simulation where you play the president of a Caribbean island. You can't control the residents' actions directly, but they'll respond to the stuff you build and the policies you enact. Each mission has different objectives but in a nutshell, you have to get Tropico's economy up and running and keep your people happy, and you make money by exporting your resources (agriculture, ores, oil, finished products) and through tourism. You can build farms, factories, churches, schools, military facilities, hotels, and so on. My favorite part of the game is the implicit optimization - choosing what to build especially in the beginning when you have very limited money and choosing where to place your buildings to make use of your resources and minimize travel distances (as your island grows, traffic congestion becomes a pain in the neck). It's fun if you like that sort of thing!
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on May 1, 2012
The downloaded version works great. I had no trouble downloading and installing. There is an update to wait through before playing, but it takes about the right amount of time to kiss up to the wife before gaming non-stop for several days. Buy her some cho-co-la-te before you install the game. It'll give her something to do.
This game is so addicting I lost two days to it. My wife is asking if I'm alright.

"Si," I answer. "I jost haf to beeld una mas factory before deener."
"OK, Honey. We're at the table waiting for you."
"That's Senor Presidente to joo, mami linda."
Buy the game. Run your own island country.
The people are so friendly, especially Miss Pineapple.
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on September 1, 2011
I'm currently playing the Steam version of this game, I bough it right away because I loved Tropico 3 so much. But who are we kidding here? This is a very minor upgrade to Tropico 3 and I'm not sure if it's worth the price they're asking for it right now. If you already own Tropico 3 I would say wait for a Steam sale in the future to grab this.
There are some UI improvements, a fast-build button for buildings and some new buildings all around. It plays smoother than Tropico 3 on higher graphics settings, I'm getting now lag or FPS drop whatsoever even with shadows and clouds maxed out, in comparison Tropico 3 could barely handly medium graphics on the exact same computer.
So overall, if you love this type of building sim, you'll probably like Tropico and you should buy this instead of Tropico 3, if you already own the aforementioned game then it really depends on if you want to spend $39 on new missions and UI improvements.
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on January 11, 2013
I love this game. I am not a 'gamer' and don't enjoy the games revolving around shooting people and things of this sort. This game centers around the idea of being a ruler of a small island. The gameplay is easy, and doesn't require lightning fast reflexes, which makes it a nice game for relaxing. I can also play this from my laptop while sitting in bed, so it is good for comfortable playing.
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A city-sim of sorts where you run your own island republic, "Tropico 4" unfortunately takes far too much from its predecessor and ends up feeling more like an expansion than a new game.

Tropico is a city-building sim series; what sets it apart from games like Sim City is the fact that the cities in question are built on volatile Caribbean islands, complete with revolutions and political entanglements. Tropico 4 continues that trend, but its most obvious problem is that a huge amount of its content is recycled from Tropico 3 - not just core gameplay concepts, but the majority of its design and graphic elements. There are a few things that the game adds, but not quite enough to justify its release as a whole separate game.

In general, Tropico centers around two things: keeping the economy running, and keeping people happy. In those regards Tropico 4 is pretty much the same as Tropico 3, with most of the same buildings and facilities. There's a few new token structures, such as a ministry building where skilled professionals can help mitigate costs and improve productivity, or various entertainment buildings like shopping malls and art museums. However, for the most part, none of these new buildings really add any new gameplay - they just sort of add more to the existing systems.

One new part of the game is the increased foreign relations system. In Tropico 3, foreign relations were with either the USA or the USSR, and determined foreign aid money and/or the likelihood of an invasion. In Tropico 4, three new entities have been added to the mix (the EU, China, and the Middle East), and the five political groups also determine import and export prices. Each nation is tied to certain goods, so if you're producing or importing a lot of goods of a certain type, it helps to keep the appropriate nation happy.

Another new feature is small side-missions. These are generally offered by the island's various political factions, or in some cases outside factions, and generally offer improved faction relations in exchange for completing a task. The communist faction might ask you to build more houses, the intellectual faction might ask you to build a high school, a foreign nation might ask you to export some types of goods, and so on. These offer some short-term goals to shoot for as you play the game without significantly distracting from the main gameplay.

The graphics are one of the most questionable new elements of the game; a new cartoonish graphical filter has been overlayed on otherwise-serious Tropico 3 graphics, creating a kind of weird, out-of-place look. I wouldn't mind a cartoony look if the whole game had been done like that, but introducing a new aesthetic (and a new interface) is kind of weird when it's not taken all the way. So much stuff is recycled from Tropico 3 in terms of graphics that it's strange they didn't just make it an expansion.

However, the game itself is fairly solid (again, mostly because it copied from Tropico 3). If viewed on its own merits, Tropico 4 is a great game; if viewed as an expansion, there's not much point to it. If you don't own T3, then T4 is a fine product since it has everything T3 has and more. If you own Tropico 3, there's no way Tropico 4 is worth the full cost of upgrading.

With that in mind, I give Tropico 4 a 7/10.
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on December 4, 2011
This is my first time playing a game from the Tropico series so I didn't really know what to expect. I enjoy sim games, my favorites being SimCity and Civilization but I was in the market for something new so I thought I would give this a try. This game is in real time (like SimCity) but you have missions/goals to complete before you can move onto the next level. I find that each level has taken me at least several hours so you definitely need to play for a while before you exhaust the levels. I enjoy the game, it isn't too easy but it isn't so challenging that you won't be able to figure it out.

Overall I had no issues with the download/install (I am running windows 7 64-bit). What I really like is how effortlessly this game runs on my laptop. I do not have a video card so some games tend to cause my computer to overheat and the game to randomly close, but I haven't had this problem with this game. On the flip side, the graphics are just good enough that I wouldn't complain about them... any worse and I'd say the graphics are dated (especially for a new release) but the lack of stunning graphics doesn't taken away from game play. Overall I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a new sim game, especially if your computer isn't great at handling graphic intensive games.
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on February 6, 2012
This is a very good game, I like the customizability that it provides in building and sculpting your own island if you wish. I think it is cool in the sense of being able to interact with every single resident on the island, and make "EL PRESIDENTE" visit business and farms to boost their production. It definetley blows away the "SIM CITY" generation.
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on February 18, 2013
This is hands down the best city builder out, as was Tropico 3. Please disregard the low scores from people that have improperly set up their computers as they really shouldn't be reviewing the "product". They were not capable of making this game run and shouldn't be reviewing it. It is frustrating to purchase a product that does not work for you. Unfortunately with computers it is difficult to tell where the conflict is on your setup, and when you aren't sure to point fingers. With that being said there was injustice done to the scoring of this game. If you run a fresh OS install with the recommended requirements it will run just fine. In fact it will run much better than fine. If you have an outdated system you'll likely be shocked how well Tropico is running.

I've always been confused by Sim City and never hit that stride where it was a lot of fun. I have always been a Civilization fan, but when the last release V fell through I stumbled upon Tropico 3. The game filled that void with the variety and attention to detail. As you dig deeper into this game it is dumbfounding that so much thought went into the decisions that were made. It's easy to just look at the eye candy and overlook the micro managers dream that is burried underneath. What seperates this game from others is replayability. I've never grown tired of playing it.

What's the difference between Tropico 3 and Tropico 4? More stuff, a lot more stuff, and a whole bunch more stuff. If you aren't familiar with Tropico you could easily grab a copy of Tropico 3 to keep you engrossed for the next year. You only need to reach for Tropico 4 if you want more. It is essentially the same game if you strip off the extras. However, who doesn't want more stuff if they love the game?

This is one of those rare situations where you want to say if it is not broken do not fix it. Look how they fixed Civ V. It's so fixed that even Sid Meir doesn't like it.
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on November 3, 2012
I bought Tropico 4 having never played a Tropico in the past but found the premiss of the game interesting from reading reviews on multiple gaming websites a blogs.

-Gameplay and Story-

Basically, you take the role of "El Presidente" who is the active ruler of the fictional Caribbean island nation named Tropico. You are able to create your character, dress him/her in a plethora of political, military, or casual garb, and even give a bit of a background story to your character through pre-set options.

For example, I named my little El Presidente after myself than gave him a nice tuxedo and red military-style beret as well as a Trotsky-like goatee. After I was finished with my character's visuals, an in game window prompted me to chose my background story. I set myself to have been a Leftist Author before I took power in Tropico by being elected as a Socialist.

One that was done I had to set some personality traits for my character. I chose Diplomatic, Patriotic, and Well-Traveled.

Note that there are literally dozens of options to chose from to make your dictator just the way you want him to be. Also note that if you do not want to make your own character, you can chose a pre-made avatar. The funny thing about the pre-made avatars is that they look and are named after real world leaders. For instance, there is a young Fidel Castro in there as well as a Mahatma Gandhi and I think I may have seen a Vladimir Lenin somewhere in the mix.

After your done with your character you are put right into the game. I would suggest playing the tutorial before starting the story missions or going into sandbox mode if you have never played a Tropico in the past.

From what I can tell, there are two main ways to play this game, Campaign and Sandbox. In campaign, you have to complete missions and tasks that are given to you by your governmental advisers in attempt to achieve your final goal of making Tropico the best place on Earth. There are 20 missions in total, each of which took me about 45 minutes to 3 hours to complete.

In Sandbox mode, there is no story or rules to follow. You simply create your Sandbox island and start ruling it, making political or economic decisions, listening to the many factions of the island and trying to make them happy as well as trying to establish strong foreign ties to nations like the United States, the Soviet Union, the European Union, and more. I personally prefer Sandbox over Campaign mode because of the freedom to do whatever you'd like to you island nation without mission restrictions.

-DLC and Addon Content-

There are also many DLCs and Addons for Tropico which you can chose to buy and install for your game. These range from the "Modern Times" DLC which bring more modern architecture, industry, and such into the game but also more modern problems to deal with such as terrorism, to "Pirate Heaven" DLC which basically gives you the option to make a pirate state, or a modern day Tortuga of sorts.

I have personally yet to buy any DLCs or Addons but know that I surely will in the near future becuase of how much I loved the vanilla version of this game

-Performance and Visuals-

Tropico 4 is not the most graphically intense game out there. With that said, it still is a very nice looking game that runs fairly well on any average modern PC. I have installed this game onto my home computer as well as my work computer (We have a LOT of down time) and I can ensure you that on both, this game works fine.

Here are my home computer's specs for those of you wondering:

Dell XPS 8300
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS
Intel Core i5-2300 CPU @ 2.80Gz
AMD Radeon HD 6450 dedicated graphics
1 TB Hard Drive, 6 GB RAM

I run Tropico 4 on mostly High settings with a few Mediums here and there at about 55+ FPS

My work computer specs are:

HP P7-1254
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS
AMD A6-3620 APU @ 2.20Gz
AMD Radeon HD integrated graphics
1 TB Hard Drive, 8 GB RAM

I run Tropico 4 at about 45 to 55 FPS on mostly medium with a few Highs here and there.

Over all, Medium settings on this game look just fine. Anything over is just eye candy and isn't really much in the way of visual improvement. I'd say as along as your computer has Windows 7 in it, this game should not be a problem frame rate wise nor a problem visually.

-Conclusion-

If you're a person that is interested in government, foreign affairs, or politics, this is a game for you. If you're a person who is interested in city/nation management games, look into Tropico. If you're a person who loves slower paced strategy games, Tropico is perfect. Though many people say Tropico 4 is nothing more than Tropico 3.25, the unique missions in Tropico 4 as well as the 3 new foreign nations to deal with and the overall visual and performance quality of this game is definitely worth a pretty penny.

I thoroughly enjoy this game and still am enjoying this game and also am excited for any new installments into this series.
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