Tropico 4: Modern Times is the expansion to last year’s Tropico 4 by developer Haemimont Games and published by Kalypso Media Digital. Like the original it features the tale of El Presidente and the rebuilding of Tropico’s islands. This time around it takes place a year after the events of the original game and features 12 new campaign missions, 30 new buildings and 10 new modern edicts.
The Story occurs but a year after the events of the original and brings you back into power after a holiday. This requires you to fix all of your humble advisor Penultimo’s mistakes before you can get into the heart of the expansion. Throughout the initial missions, there are many strange goings on which seems to be almost completely directed at you and your downfall. As you progress and meet a few new interesting characters; as well as some old ones, things clear up a little and the plot unfolds. It takes various twists and turns and some very strange turns as it leaves the more realistic stories behind and becomes like a science fiction tale with some missions and like a Bond plot with another.
The timeline is probably the most important feature as it dictates what is available to you out of the new buildings as well as showing off when world events will cause boons and lulls in prices of specific goods or entire economies. It will even affect foreign aid, as the US and USSR factions get their own problems to deal with. You can check on the timeline whenever you want to so that you can keep tabs on what will come available to you in a certain year as well as events that you need to prepare for. Each game should get a different timeline so you can’t expect the same events to occur but buildings are always unlocked on exactly the same date.
The new buildings come as a nice addition as they allow for more advanced and modern machinery to be used. Many older buildings will quickly become replaced as the timeline starts to add the new buildings to your list. Many of the food and resource based buildings become upgraded and after a few missions you will no longer be able to build some of these. At times it actually makes the game harder as the new buildings have replaced the old ones and as they are more expensive or has prerequisites that you have not met yet. They also streamline some of the tasks that the previous buildings had which takes some getting used to as it makes production less focused but increases overall output.
There are other buildings that offer some new and interesting solutions to old problems and some buildings offer alternatives that completely eradicate the need for other buildings. The solar panel plant is a good example of how the environmentally friendly energy source is cheaper and more efficient than the other two power sources. This effectively makes the other two power sources redundant and that’s never a good thing. A few other buildings are very similar in that respect but they tend to not to be to the same scale.
Many of the new edicts aren’t available until much later into the game as the prerequisites are quite high and demand focus on specific buildings or factions to unlock. They are however very interesting and can change the game at a moment’s notice. Some are more useful than others but they all have their place and when used properly will influence the game just as you wish it. They are all based on real things that have happened and it is nice to see them added. The banning of social networks, healthcare reform, internet police and police state all are satirical remarks towards certain countries but is all in good humour.
Satirical and witty the script does very few things wrong. Your incompetent advisor Penultimo can be annoying from time to time but as things go it’s pretty funny. The story is interesting and parodies many different films, internet humour and real life people and events. It isn’t the most thrilling but for the genre there is very little that can compare.
Presentation and Audio
As with the original it still looks like a tropical paradise until you build anything too industrial but it becomes more aesthetically pleasing as the more modern structures come in. The huge tower blocks of the modern times are much more appealing and have glass and steel casings rather than the hastily built stone ones. A few new voices join the roster and poke fun in the same way as the original with over the top accents and wild dialogue.
The game keeps the core gameplay alive and adds some new variants to the mix, giving you alternate solutions to problems but it does make certain tasks more difficult or make other non-upgradeable buildings completely redundant. The campaign has high learning curve and is challenging enough for veterans to enjoy.
While the game does add a lot of new content it does feel like some of the new buildings hand hold you a little and don’t allow for as much customization with individual buildings. If you own and enjoy the original and want more of the same with different scenarios then this is easy to recommend. It doesn’t however change the core gameplay so any problems with Tropico 4 will have to wait until Tropico 5 to be ironed out.
I was a little disappointed by the way some of the buildings got replaced and made things more difficult without any options to adequately fix the problems it caused. This mainly happened with the military side as the armoury which requires no blueprints got replaced with a Swat HQ which is more difficult to obtain than the army base. The army base however requires blueprints as well bringing the total cost up; which in turn made rebels harder to deal with in the long run. Even with its flaws it does a great job of bringing variety and fresh ideas to the game.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.