Tropico 4: Modern Times Review


El Presidente goes back to the future!

Modern Times is the kind of expansion pack I dream of: the chance to bring El Presidente in to the 21st Century. But does it really do anything all that different?

The Modern Times Expansion Pack adds 12 new missions to the game, each with a different theme and types of goals. Most of them border on the absurd, but are completely hysterical. The expansion pack retains the same kind of satirical humour that littered the main game, with the return of firm favourites like Penultimo, El Presidente’s right hand man. You will also find some new characters on show, with the highlight being a nutty professor; whose name I can’t even say, let alone spell.

Many of the missions are well thought out, with the game giving you all the tools required to get through them. It continues with the same excellent play from the main game, focusing on making the missions fun, while not bogging you down too much with complicated micro management options.

The game structure is identical to the original Tropico 4 game (you can check out my review of that here), with each mission starting you on a new island with the bare minimum of resources. You will then be tasked with building up your land in a specific way (focusing on trade, importing and exporting, tourism and developing your status in the world market), while all the time trying to keep the several factions happy. However, it is the side story of this campaign that makes the expansion pack so much fun. It includes trying to find a clone of Penultimo, curing an outbreak of viral hiccups and many more zany missions. It never failed to put a smile on my face.

As the name suggests, this expansion pushes the franchise forward in time, but not as you would think. Each mission starts off in the 50s/60s, with the same tools at your disposal as the main game. But as time passes, instead of being stuck in the same era, the technology progresses. The game will automatically unlock modern versions of the old toolset at certain time eras. You may start off with the ability to build a standard farm, but after a while, you will be able to demolish them and replace them with Bio Farms.

The upgrades will improve the quality of units’ work, which in turn means more cash. Even after a few missions, I was finding myself with a large bank balance. This means that you can spend the money on some of the new blueprints, such as a Sanatorium, a solar energy farm and maybe even a SWAT HQ. There certainly are a lot of new buildings to construct, many of which will factor into the mission goals at some point. Of course, many of the old blueprints have upgrades that become available over time.

This screenshot makes me yearn for an Aerobiz sequel, and I have no idea why.

One thing that they seem to have toned down a bit is the effect of various factions. It is now even easier to keep people happy, which would normally mean fewer rebellions. However, in some of the game modes, a ’Panic’ meter is introduced, which increases over time. When it hits 100, a massive rebellion takes place, which can sometimes result in game over. The problem is that there is no rhyme or reason to the increase in the Panic meter (the game even eludes to it when it introduces the mechanic). At least with the Factions, you could sometimes control the problems, but with the Panic meter you have to just grin and bear it. The game often rewards goal completion by resetting the meter, but you will probably see it hit 100 ten or fifteen times during a mission. Luckily, it doesn’t appear too many of them.

Along with the new campaign, new side story and building options, Modern Times also gives you some new features for your Avatar. A new set of clothes and a few new accessories finish off the content of the pack. As usual, these new items will improve your Avatar’s characteristics, but I mainly use them to look cool.

With the 12 new missions and the changes to the game play, it really should be hard not to recommend Modern Times. However, a $15 price tag does seem a bit steep for what you get and should have really been five dollars cheaper. If you are a die-hard fan of the franchise, then go and treat yourself. For those who only like to dip their toes a bit, waiting for a price drop may be prudent.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

John Whitehouse
Written by
News Editor/Reviewer, he also lends his distinct British tones to the N4G Radio Podcast. When not at his PC, he can be found either playing something with the word LEGO in it, or TROPICO!!!

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