Rob Dillman On November 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

Tropico 4 ScreenshotThere is fun to be had in Tropico 4. Above anything else that can be said about this game, this holds true.

I feel the unfortunate need to add this disclaimer, because by modern conventional gaming wisdom, this title doesn’t do much right. The graphics aren’t mind-blowing. In fact, the game reuses the music and most of the art from Tropico 3. There’s no multiplayer to be found. The only force the player is truly competing against is his or her own ingenuity as he or she attempts to build up an economy against the changing winds of trade and the insatiable hearts of the people.

However, for gamers who enjoy the economy management aspects of RTSes and could do without all that pesky battling, Tropico 4 is a godsend. It allows players fine control of their economies as Tropican dictator El Presidente, adding the ability to monitor imports as well as exports (the previous game allowed control only over exports). For the most part, players begin each mission with a construction office, a couple farms, and very little else. From there, they must use whatever resources the island has to build up appropriate industries while managing money and keeping all their citizens and factions on the island happy. Want to start logging? Well, you’d better be ready for hippie environmentalist Sunny Flowers (actual name in the game) to jump down your throat about deforestation!

Tropico 4 adds a handful of new buildings, but with the import gameplay change, it almost feels like wasted effort. The ability to import at the level of each building makes many industries viable. It also makes many missions feel the exact same. The formula of constructing basic buildings like churches and tenements, gathering the most plentiful resources on the island, and converting those resources to lucrative refined goods repeats itself without much variation. It’s easier said than done, as El Presidente needs to keep the citizens of Tropico pleased while trying to drain every last cent out of them, but it always seems like a matter of when, not if they will eventually be pleased.

For potential new players, the tutorials are imposing, but the game is very easy to pick up once it introduces a few basic concepts. The game seems overly complicated at first but is easily understood after the first hour or so. The console controls are surprisingly well done and, unlike most strategy games, aren’t a square peg trying to be shoved in a round hole. Part of this is because there is no need to give large amounts of orders to differing amounts of soldiers like in Starcraft or Command and Conquer. Still, credit must be given to Kalypso Media for finding a good console solution for its games.

In the end, very little of this really matters. Tropico 4 has enough content in its 20 missions and more than enough personality to justify its existence to fans of the genre. Tropico’s take on world affairs is clever and well-executed in its biting political satire. For fans of management simulations like SimCity or even fans of RTSes, Tropico affords its players plenty of control over the operations of the island and will scratch that dictatorial itch. For those that have played this series before or are thinking of picking it up for the first time, once again, it’s fun and entertaining, but it covers very little new ground and won’t change a player’s mind on the genre.


If your idea of fun is bean-counting, resource management, and oodles of spreadsheets, this game will not disappoint you. Managing an island is simple and fun.


Really tough to score this one. It doesn’t look bad, but so much is reused from Tropico 3 and it takes so few risks that I have to dock it a little.


The sound and music really fit the game. The Caribbean-inspired tunes work, but once again, there’s some reuse here.


The campaign will take around 40 hours, but it doesn’t tread anywhere it hasn’t been before. How much of a problem this is comes down to the player.

Click here to buy Tropico 4 for the Xbox 360 online from

Click here to buy Tropico 4 New or Used for the Xbox 360 from EBgames.comicon

One Response

  1. Sandy says:

    Nice review, I posted it on my Facebook to let more people can read this.