Tropico 4 Preview
With the recent news that America will allow select domestic airlines to carry charter flights to Cuba, it seems as if the long-held political tensions between the U.S. and the communist island nation will subside. What better way to celebrate than by running your own SimCity-style banana republic? GameZone recently had the chance to check out a demo presentation, and we've gotta say--it would take a missile crisis to keep us from this addictive sim.
Tropico 4 once again puts you in the role of El Presidente, ruler of your own little slice of paradise, giving you the authority to run your new republic however you see fit. Much like other city-building games, the goal of Tropico 4 is to try and effectively maintain your government for as long as possible without letting it fall to ruin. Along the way you'll import and export goods, build residential and commercial structures, form diplomatic ties with other nations, and watch as your island nation slowly grows in both number and complexity. You can track your progress in a variety of ways, but none more so than the happiness of your people, who will not hesitate to throw you in front of a firing squad if you ignore their suffering for too long. Luckily, it's easy to learn what ails the public, as you can check the stats for every single resident of your nation just by clicking on them. Their opinions will help influence your decisions. If they are uneducated, build some schools. If they are bored, build some movie theaters. Each choice you make will affect other factors, and capturing the hearts and minds of the people while also keeping your country in the green isn't an easy task.
The most interesting facet of Tropico is how incredibly complex it is, with seemingly hundred of possible dilemmas to consider, none with a simple answer. Are you willing to allow the public free elections? If so, will you allow these simple peons to make up their own minds, or will your secret police need to crack some skulls and stuff some ballots? Or maybe the opposing candidate could just mysteriously disappear? The game is rife with these types of choices, forcing players to choose between what is moral and what is profitable. One instance involved a recently erupted volcano, which created a large ash cloud over the island, with the United States demanding we cease commercial flights until the potential hazard dissipated. Our guide quickly brushed off the diplomatic decree in the name of valuable tourist dollars, keeping the island profitable but degrading relations with the land of the brave, paving a possible path toward war. It's brilliant to watch how each choice plays out over the course of a game. Skimp on education spending and your nation of morons will stand by with dumb smiles as the nuclear reactor melts down. Fail to provide a proper police force and a visiting Pope may be shot by fanatics, your anguished god-fearing contingent calling for your immediate resignation.
If you're into these type of many menu simulators, then Tropico 4 looks like a blast. The graphics are polished, the game world is fun and colorful, and the level of interaction is astonishing. We'll definitely be on the lookout for this title when it drops for PC and Xbox 360 in August.