Tropico 4: Modern Times: Building toward the skies

April 26, 2012

We’ve already reviewed Tropico 4 for you: if you like city-building games, you’ll enjoy it. This time around, Tropico leaves the Cold War behind and enters the modern era. While the new campaign doesn’t do much, the sandbox mode makes it a worthwhile purchase.

Modern Times has two modes: an all-new 12 mission campaign and a sandbox mode. In both cases, you’ll be tasked with the standard Tropico scenario of taking a small island city and building it up into a thriving, oppressed metropolis. The campaign doesn’t really do much new or worthwhile, even with all the new edicts and buildings available to you. It’s pretty much the exact same type of missions from the main game, just with new buildings.

The sandbox mode is where Modern Times really shines though. The addition of a new timeline which causes real-life events to influence your island at the appropriate times, along with unlocking some buildings or technologies at the real-life rate, makes the sandbox mode feel more like a long-term organic campaign than the usual sandbox mode. Things like Reagan’s bombing of Libya, the invention of the Internet and even the Cuban Missile Crisis all impact your paradise in various ways.

A number of the new buildings are simply upgraded versions of the ones you are used to seeing in Tropico, such as high-rise apartments replacing the apartment blocks, bio farms replacing farms, and borehole mines replacing strip mines. Of course, these are all more efficient space-wise, but more expensive in every other respect. The new metro stations are massively helpful in creating a truly modern and sprawling city, as it eliminates travel time between long-distance locations. Also interesting are the business centers that will increase your revenue and telecom buildings which improve the quality of life for your peasants. There are plenty of new buildings to explore and use, from upgraded buildings to modern conveniences, even your own space program.

The new edicts vary, from tongue-in-cheek references, to modern-day political issues like policing the Internet or reforming healthcare, to pointed references to gamer culture like a zombie inquisition and participating in the war on terror.

As an expansion, Modern Times does exactly what you would expect it to do, which is to add new content to the base game that extends the playability and enjoyment of it for those who like it. If you enjoyed Tropico 4, this is definitely a good purchase.

Pros: Humor holds up in modern era, new buildings are great, timeline adds replayability to sandbox mode
Cons: Campaign isn’t very enticing

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.