Making a game like Tropico 4 for a console has always been a tricky job, especially when the PC version is held in such high esteem. One of the main issues is how to take a game that relies so heavily on keyboard & mouse and put it on a console that only has a gamepad. Luckily, the developer, Haemimont, have done a good enough job with the game as to not completely balls up the controls.
I’m not going to go in to too much detail regarding the playing of the game. For those who want to know what to expect, you can read my PC review, the full Tropico 4 experience is present, with nothing left out. The tutorials, the 20 campaign missions and the sandbox mode are all present, along with all of the gameplay features.
The game also looks very impressive and actually runs better on my Xbox 360 than it does on my PC. Even though my PC is fairly meaty, running on a console really benefits the game. Some of the few glitches that popped up in the PC version seem to have vanished. Zooming around the map is also smooth and hiccup free.
So far, so good. In fact, nearly everything about the console port has improved the Tropico 4 experience for me. But now we get on to the deal breaker, the controls.
There are plenty of game genres that people will argue works better with KB/M; Real Time Strategies, First Person Shooters and Management Sims like Tropico 4 are just a few. Having the ability to point and click just seems to work better, and it is still the case here. The good news is that Haemimont have still done a cracking job of making the game control as well as possible. As I mentioned earlier, all of the game’s features from the PC are still intact, but they have managed to map the controls in such a way that it still remains a relatively solid experience. The camera is controlled by the two sticks; using them to pan from left to right, move in 360 degrees and zooming in and out. You can also tilt the angle of view simple by pressing the RT and moving the right stick.
Building an item is done simply by pressing Y, then scrolling through the radial menu to select the type of building you want. Things like speeding up time issuing edicts are all dealt with by holding down RT and then pressing one of the face buttons.
The way in which the controls works seems perfect for a gamepad; I don’t think they could have done a better job. Sure, it isn’t as easy to use as the keyboard & mouse, but getting the controls right is an area some developers mess up to such a degree as to ruin the entire game.
Tropico 4 on the Xbox 360 is about as good as a port can get. It even runs better on my Xbox 360 than on my PC. The controls may not work as well as they do on PC, but Haemimont have made sure that they work as well as possible. It also means that the game is a ’must buy’ for fans of the genre, who would normally miss out if they don’t own a PC.
Review copy provided by publisher.