Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tropico 4 - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)

The world is changing and Tropico is moving with the times - geographical powers rise and fall and the world market is dominated by new players with new demands and offers - and you, as El Presidente, face a whole new set of challenges. If you are to triumph over your naysayers you will need to gain as much support from your people as possible. Your decisions will shape the future of your nation, and more importantly, the size of your off-shore bank account.

Tropico 4 expands on the gameplay of the previous game with new political additions ∼ including more superpowers to negotiate with, along with the ability to elect ministers into power to help get your more controversial policies passed. But remember to keep your friends close and your enemies closer as everyone has an agenda! Your political mettle will be thoroughly tested, as new natural disasters will have the populace clamoring for you and your cabinet to help them recover from some of the worst Mother Nature can dish out.

Tropico 4 also brings a new level of social interaction with the addition of Facebook and Twitter integration. Post comments on Twitter direct from the game and have updates go out when you complete missions or unlock new achievements. You can even take screenshots of your burgeoning island and post your dream creation on your Tropico 4 Facebook page and compare your interactive Dictator Ranking on the online leaderboards.

Previous Playtime

13 hours

What Was I Thinking When I Bought This

Well, I played the original Tropico way back when (I want to say 2003 or 2004) and thought it was a charming little city-builder. Later, I rented the console version of Tropico 3 and enjoyed it immensely. It therefor seemed natural that in 2013, when the complete DLC bundle for the latest iteration of the series was reduced to a mere ten dollars, I would jump at the chance to purchase it.

Honestly, I can't remember the exact circumstances surrounding this purchase. According to my account history, it was the 10th game I ever bought on Steam. I think, by that point, I was starting to get used to the idea of purchasing downloadable games, but I still hadn't entirely bought into the concept.

It's actually really fascinating looking at my early account history. My first purchase was in July 2012, when I bought Terraria. The next one after that was Jan 2013, nearly 6 months later. Then, the gap between that and my next purchase narrowed to 3 months, in March 2013. After that, I had at least one purchase a month every month until Jan 2015.

The other interesting thing is that 2015 was apparently much more disciplined than 2104, where I had three total months with no purchases whatsoever, and it is likely that my falling behind on the blog is down almost entirely to that excessively large Star Wars bundle (and perhaps my decision to treat Civilization IV as four separate games).

Bringing this back to Tropico 4, it is obvious to me, looking at my account history, that this purchase was part of my initial flirtation with Steam. It must have happened when I still didn't entirely trust it (and I'll say that I don't trust it now, but my behavior seems to indicate otherwise), but after I was starting to get used to the idea that I could get some significant discounts.

That's probably why I have such a significant amount of time already invested in the game. This must have been from back when I still had few enough of them that I could afford to spend time on a whimsical purchase.

Expectations and Prior Experience

I've already played through a significant portion of the campaign. I remember getting stuck on a mission where my economy collapsed because I had too many educated workers and not enough demand for their particular professions. I remember this frustrating me, because it felt like a huge tragedy that just as the nation of Tropico was on the cusp of modernization, an economic collapse caused all of the citizens' gains to evaporate overnight.

Which is, of course, a good reaction for a strategy game to provoke. I like the fact that success in the game is measured by the prosperity of your citizens (oh, okay, you can also brutally exploit them to pad your Swiss bank account, but that's suboptimal, in my experience). If the cost of that is that poor play can result in disaster for your citizens, then that seems a fair tradeoff to me.

Having played this game fairly extensively before (I only have 13 hours in it, but the Tropico series is not one to shake up gameplay between installments, and thus a lot of my experience from Tropico and Tropico 3 carried over), I don't think there are many surprises in store. I'll likely enjoy myself most of the time and have to endure the occasional heartbreak from my inevitable mistakes. If it ever gets too overwhelming, I can just play on a random easy map and tinker with my little simulated society for however long I have left.

In other words, this is going to be a real gimme.

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