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Tropico 4: Modern Times

March 31st, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

A week ago, I wrote a preview for an upcoming expansion to one of my favorite games of all time. Now that I’ve had a chance to play it for a few days (ever since its digital release on 3/29/12), I feel that I can safely give my impressions and sum up its features…without being too biased.

Tropico 4: Modern Times

Tropico 4: Modern Times

For review purposes, I’m going to assume you already know your Tropico. If you don’t, I have a plethora of links at the end of this article to get you started. Oh yeah, and shame on you.

Tropico 4: Modern Times is more of the same, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Tropico 4′s core game was a blatant copy of Tropico 3 with some newly added buildings and features. This expansion does the same in my opinion. Modern Times adds some futuristic buildings and edicts to give the game some new flavor, but veterans will quickly see it as just more content without changing the core game and how it works. Keep in mind, the game already works well…I’m a strong believer of the motto, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Players going into this expansion expecting a huge change in gameplay will be disappointed, but those going into it with the expectation that you’ll just have more stuff to play around with will be somewhat satisfied.

Tropico 4 Modern Times Timeline

As time passes, you’ll be able to access the newer content.

Those who know Tropico 4 will recognize all of the usual buildings, though there are some subtle changes. The new buildings and options that come with this expansion are mostly unlocked only after a period of time has passed…which makes sense. My only complaint is that some of these new buildings replace the old ones and you will not have access to build the old buildings once the new ones are unlocked. Most of the new buildings are superior in every way, but there are a few that lack the drop down options from the old building.

There are twelve new campaign missions, separate from the original game’s campaign. The new content is not available in the original campaign due to balancing issues. To play the new content, you’ll have to play the new campaign or enable the option to use the content when creating a new sandbox scenario.

Tropico 4 Modern Times Fertilize

The “Fertilize!” edict will make your farmland better capable of growing crops. It can only be used once.

So, what of the new buildings, you ask?

The new borehole mine, once it becomes unlocked, gives you the ability to continue mining a resource even after the resource has run out. The rate of production is reduced after the resource has been depleted but this is still a nice feature. Borehole mines also allow you to mine two or more resources at once, should these resources be near or overlap each other.

The ship-o-rant replaces the restaurant, but I have a problem with the fact that it requires power to run. One of my first strategies in the beginning of the game is to build a restaurant to provide entertainment to keep my approval rating from plummeting. It’s also fairly cheap…more expensive than a pub, but provides better satisfaction. In some scenarios, you start out with the ship-o-rant in your build menu and because it requires power (which is expensive), I’m forced to go with the pub for my starting entertainment building. Not a big deal, but throws a wrench into my well thought out routine.

Tropico 4 Modern Times Palace

The new palace upgrade (far right) and the ship-o-rant (to the left of the palace). The palace can be upgraded after certain criteria have been met.

The sanatorium is a new medical building that is optional. What I was happy about and noticed immediately was that you can set a fee for healthcare for this building. Those who play this game know that healthcare in Tropico has ALWAYS been free, until now. Clinics and hospitals still provide healthcare at no charge, but the sanatorium is a welcome new option. Keep in mind that setting a fee means that those not employed or not earning wages will not be able to afford healthcare.

The electronics factory and the car factory are welcome additions to the industry business, seeing as how your only use for iron or bauxite was to make weapons at the weapons factory. Making weapons, as you probably know, can cause your international approval rating with the foreign powers to drop. Bad relations mean less foreign aid, among other things. Now you can turn that iron or bauxite into other profitable things…*thumbs up.*

Finally, I thought the business center stood out. When I find myself overpopulated with people needing jobs, one of these fits the bill nicely. When I pay for the option to install cubicles (doubling the amount of workers in the building), my unemployment rate drops significantly. I find it best to place this building near my housing, setting the drop down to mortgage company. The mortgage company setting brings in income based on how many families are living nearby.

Tropico 4 Modern Times Seven-Star Hotel Sanatorium

The sanatorium (lower left) and the seven-star hotel (far right). The seven-star hotel replaces the skyscraper and holds a boatload of tourists, but is expensive and only one can be built at a time.

So what is the final verdict? Is the new content worth twenty bucks? It depends. I’d recommend this to fans of the core game who get a lot of replay value out of it. I would not recommend this to people who only play this game once in a blue moon and are expecting the new content to bring in a fresh look on the series.

I still would not recommend the $5.00 DLCs being sold on Steam that offer one new building, a costume, and some new scenery. I do however think that the content offered in this expansion is worth it for those who spend hours getting enjoyment out of creating and molding your small town into the giant banana republic that you wish it to be.

Just as a reminder, those with the core game on Steam will need to purchase the expansion on Steam in order for it to work. To quote one of the moderators from the official forum…”The Steam version of Modern Times will only work with the Steam version of Tropico 4 and vice versa!”

Tropico 4 Modern Times New Buildings

How many new buildings can you spot?

The digital version has been released, but the XBox and PC boxed versions won’t be released until 4/3/12.

Final Verdict: 9/10

You can view play sessions here:

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