Life as the dictator of a banana republic is never as easy as it appears from afar, or that is the impression of my girlfriend and I each time we sit down to play Tropico 4. It has become, for us, a game that we sit down and play together a couple of times a week as we chat, unwind and debate whether we really need to assassinate the Mafia Dons currently infesting our Island.
On the whole we have never really gotten the hang of the oppression of the people thing, in fact debates often rage over whether we should build more housing, hospitals or stabilise the economy with some factories. We have never established an inquisition, ordered a book banning or arrested more than 4 people without evidence.
That's not a housing crisis.........
In fact between the two of us we try to create an island paradise for our people and only when things have become stable do we start to skim a little something of off the top. I would guess our style of play has a lot to do with our motivations for playing, we are both keen city-builders and are looking for something to fill the void left behind by games such as Zeus and the old-style Sim City Games.
Tropico has an affable light heartedness which we find very endearing, but this is supported by a series of mechanics that force us to make tougher choices with each subsequent mission. At present our big debates tend to be around housing and whether my cram-as-many-as-you-can approach can really be considered inhuman, when there is limited space available or exactly how much we can afford to spend on cleaning up the oil spill off our coast.
The biggest threats to our regime tend to come from Tsunamis, hurricanes and volcanos, rather than uprisings of the masses. However as the missions have progressed it has become harder and harder to stick on the dictatorial straight and narrow. The increase in natural disasters and external political pressures has begun to force us to make really hard choices about what to rebuild after the latest catastrophe, sure our people do need houses, but surely they can last a few years in shacks while we replace that factory. Continual complaining from various faction leaders (I am looking at you Sunny Flowers) is starting to make the ‘arrange an accident’ seem mighty tempting, after all an ‘accident’ means no repercussions so why not?
I think the church has had a new idea............. sure prohibition sounds great!
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the game pans out for us, will there come a point where we actually ban elections in order to save our regime or can we continue with our utopia approach? We have already begun to manufacture weapons (purely for home and recreational purposes) in order to support our island’s economy, while we get our tourism up and running (the main source of our income within the game). Is this going to lead to us oppressing our people (in the short term obviously) in order to create our perfect little Island in the long run?
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be fun finding out!
You can pick up Tropico 4 for a modest price on steam.