Tropico 4 + Tropico 4 Modern Times
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2012-04-23 Xbox 360 Simulation T (Teen) Kalypso Media / Haemimont Games

While Didi has already reviewed Tropico 4: Modern Times here on Gamer's Intuition, her experience with the franchise prior to this expansion was limited, leaving me to offer a different take on the gameplay, from the mindset of someone who spent a considerable amount of time playing Tropico 3 before jumping in here.

Largely, the gameplay of Tropico 4 and subsequently Tropico 4: Modern Times remains unchanged, as your overall goal still sees you building a bustling tropical paradise for both native citizens and tourists alike, while maintaining (and eventually increasing) your country's standard of living through health, spiritual, economic and technical upgrades.

Where Tropico 4 does differ is in its complexity, via the addition of full voice acting from your advisors and foreign ambassadors, who were formerly relegated to small text windows that could be easily overlooked. Additionally, as you construct new buildings, the "Quick Build" feature eliminates the waiting game present in previous series installments, as wealthy "presidentes" can use some of the country's treasury to instantly complete the construction of a building.

These Quick Build options, along with the introduction of the "Task" list, are easily the best improvements of the entire game. Formerly, when challenged with raising a specific stat of your island (say, raising your population's satisfaction with healthcare or quality of education), you were left alone to figure out how to complete said goal on your own. These Tasks, however, will create smaller goals for you to complete, sometimes four or five at a time, which will lead you to that same end. This could technically be considered hand-holding on the part of the game's interface, but it never feels particularly forced, as you're still left with complete freedom in where you construct items and in which order you finish these new Tasks. You can even ignore them entirely if you wish.

As for the Modern Times expansion, it sends your city into the new millennium with the introduction of more modern bio-farms and mines, updated apartment buildings and tourists attractions (like a seven-star hotel), and more. You'll be able to purchase Edicts that compliment these new buildings, like one that bans the use of social networks to increase worker productivity and another that offers healthcare reform.

While Sandbox mode will allow you to explore all of these upgrades at your leisure, there are plenty of new single-player campaigns that challenge you with some interesting scenarios. For instance, as the entire world moves into the modern era, you'll find countries dropping bombs on one another, limiting your own ability to import and export from/to them. Additionally, chemical warfare is introduced via the manufacturing of a hiccup virus, and a global economic crisis must be stopped before Tropico becomes part of the panic.

Add all of this to the new ability to import supplies from other countries (say, importing gold for your Jewelry Factory when your own island's mine has run out) and you have a game just as fun as Tropico 3, but with even more polish and attention to detail. The game's interface is now more intuitive, and while I miss Juanito's constant banter on the radio, the addition of so many other characters (who are often just as funny) is an adequate replacement.

Tropico 4: Modern Times may cost 1200 Microsoft Points, but that's money well spent, as the improvements here are ample from Tropico 3, and the additional variety of buildings are simply a joy to construct and upgrade. If you enjoyed Tropico 3, or are running out of scenarios to complete in Tropico 4, don't hesitate to jump into the Modern Times.