A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tropico 4 is a city building simulation game that puts players in control of a small tropical island, which they must build into a thriving metropolis. Players can do so benevolently or through tyrannical methods, including assassinations, bribery, and kill squads. The violence is viewed from a top-down perspective and there's no blood (the player never directly controls the armies, but instead simply issues orders). It's mild, but there are screams. Alcohol, tobacco, and sex are referenced as part of the descriptions concerning non-savory dictator characteristics.
What's it about?
As with other games in the Tropico series, Tropico 4 puts you in the boots of an island dictator. You can create your own or select a famous real-world dictator, such as Che Guevara or Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. You'll have to build up your island's economy and culture by opening businesses, striking deals with other governments, and ensuring that your political position isn't threatened (which means dealing with a few revolutions along the way). Natural disasters sometimes come into play, presenting a different sort of hurdle to your progress. Over the course of 20 missions, you'll be forced to regularly reevaluate your strategy to adapt to changing conditions.
Is it any good?
TROPICO 4 is a lot like Tropico 3 (which was a lot like its predecessors as well) -- so if you're looking for an innovative city-building experience, this isn't it. There's a strong argument to be made, though, that if something's not broken, then there's no need to fix it. The tweaks to the game, such as the reworked goal system and inclusion of natural disasters, improve on the formula and keep players engaged. The game's Achilles heel is the Xbox controller, which handles the enormous slew of in-game option choices adequately, but not admirably. Playing the PC version of the game is much smoother.
The game is remarkably deep, but that might actually work against it with people who are new to this genre. It's intimidating -- and even with a good tutorial, it takes a while to get your sea legs. Worse still, the tutorial takes quite a while to work through, and some players will be tempted to skip it, which will ultimately hurt them. However, for those who stick with it (or those who are familiar with the series or genre), it's a solid addition to the Tropico line of games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it is smarter to take the quick, evil route or the harder benevolent one.
Families can also discuss the impact of their decisions, both short- and long-term, and whether they can think of examples of the game's politics in the real world.
Can you think of other simulation games that you have enjoyed? How do they compare to this one?
- Platforms: Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: historical figures, power structures, the economy
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation
Communication: friendship building
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, hypothesis-testing, strategy
- Price: $49.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Kalypso Media USA
- Release date: October 18, 2011
- Genre: Simulation
- ESRB rating: T for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
For kids who love strategy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.