Tropico 4 is a game you’ve always dreamt of experiencing. Ruling a small country from the comfort of your massive villa surrounded by bodyguards and blacked out limousines parked out front… The dream life eh? Tropico 4 lets you experience dictatorship, both the hardships and the perks. It’s a unique game; one you won’t get bored of quickly.

2 years after Tropico 4’s Windows release, Feral Interactive delivers the Gold Edition of the game, including The Modern Times expansion pack. With 12 new missions, new “enemy” forces, 30 new buildings and new edicts, The Modern Times expansion pack promises to add a lot of value to the game. But how does it all pan out on MacOS? Is Tropico 4’s Mac version a good buy? Let’s find out.

Enter Tropico 4

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Being a dictator is simply not as easy as it seems. It’s not that glamorous either. It’s hard and takes a hell of an effort to remain in power. A lot of blood and sweat goes into maintaining a successful dictatorship. Here I might add, the blood might not be necessarily mine but either way, it’s blood and that’s all that matters in the end. Money is another thorny issue, and a lot of it is needed to succeed. It could be said that dictatorship, in essence, is a corporation. Except not really. It’s much harder and bloodier.

Tropico 4 doesn’t bother with trying to sell you the glamorous side of dictatorship. Right from the tutorials, you have to fight to remain in power. Every campaign mission tests you and pushes you to find additional revenue streams, different ways to keep the population satisfied and maintain a happy state. During the campaign, you will not only use the methods taught in the tutorials but will also have to combine and find new ways to complete tasks and increase your chances to survive the next elections.

Of course, if you do a good job, your Swiss bank account starts pilling up with cash and your dictatorship slowly becomes a bigger player in world politics, with USA, USSR, China and the Middle East, asking for favors and preferential trade agreements, or asking you to make certain decisions in the UN. With random events such as natural disasters or a major political shakeup taking place, you need to be alert and react quickly. The biggest danger, however, is dealing with the needs and wants of the inhabitants of your island.

Your population is divided into various factions, such as the Capitalists, Communist, Loyalists, Environmentalists and so on. Every move you make affects certain factions in a positive way and other factions negatively. You will have to try and appease all factions, and that won’t be an easy task. Certain factions will have various demands and not giving in to their demands will result in a loss of support. Come elections (which you can rig incidentally), it will hit you hard.

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In a typical dictatorship banana republic way, it’s possible to click a random person and choose to have him arrested, killed publicly or anonymously.

One of the trickiest gameplay elements of this game is to make enough money and maintain a steady source of income to keep your banana republic afloat. Here’s a pro tip: Exporting tobacco and cigars will ensure great success for the economic aspect of your dictatorship. But the world players can place embargos at will on certain exports so you’ll have to resort to some other methods to earn your daily bread and butter. Here’s another pro tip: be prepared for anything. Absolutely anything.

You will face random, idiotic and juvenile demands from certain factions and countries. But then you will have to remember that it is, after all, your banana republic, and you will go to great lengths to make sure that your banana republic stays afloat. The frustrating bit here is that you can’t deal with them however you want. To give you an example, the Environmentalists are very annoying and they do have some taxing demands. Unfortunately, you can’t just get them killed!

As the leader of your banana republic, you don’t actually expect to encounter environmentalists, and how is it possible you don’t have enough power and information to hunt them down and kill them at will? Frustrating, yes, but in no way a deal breaker. There’re other ways to deal with them, so it’s not a big deal in a larger scheme of things.

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If I had to nitpick about other downsides, repetitive gameplay is something else that grinds my gears. At certain points, you’ll face the same gameplay elements over and over again.

Overall, long-term thinking and strategy is key to maintaining a successful dictatorship. Never imagined that I would ever be saying that, but oh well. Make no mistake, this game is challenging, but work hard, and you will reap the awards.


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The visuals and audio are very good, although a bit too, dare I say it, Cuban. Surely, a bit of Asian, European, or African dictatorships should’ve been included. Although it’s not a deal breaker, it would’ve been nice to see some variety in the buildings, environments and music. But for the most part, Tropico 4 is very well executed. The visuals, when turned up to 11, are full of detail. Every vehicle on the map has a purpose, and so does every citizen. You won’t find any jobless person walking in circles.

And if you do, they shouldn’t be jobless for long. Or alive, if someone’s in a bad mood. Every single gameplay element is superbly detailed and has a purpose. All this adds to the immersion.

Another unique element is the loading screens, which are full of well-executed illustrations and quotes from political leaders pertaining to leadership. It makes for superb reading and trivia. Haemimont Games, with all these little details, has added to the gameplay experience and makes Tropico 4 very attractive indeed.

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Considering the fact that I’m running Tropico 4 on a moderately well specced MacBook Pro, Tropico didn’t run too smoothly with everything turned up to the highest setting, but with certain settings toned down, it ran superbly and with no problems whatsoever. Tropico didn’t crash once, even with several apps running in the background. Kudos to Feral Interactive for yet another stable port.

My system specs:

  • OS: OS X 10.8.4
  • Processor: 2.9 GHz Intel
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Graphics: 512MB

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Minimum Requirements:

  • OS: OS X 10.7.5
  • Processor: 2GHz Intel
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Hard Disk: 6GB
  • Graphics: 256MB


The Good

  • Challenging gameplay
  • Detailed visuals
  • Quirky gameplay elements
  • Stable port

The Bad

  • Lack of variety in visuals
  • Limited freedom in decision making
  • Slightly repetitive gameplay

Final Word

The newer Tropico 5 may be already out, but in many ways, Tropico 4 is still a better alternative. The game promises hours of solid gameplay and the sandbox mode offers infinite replay value. With challenging gameplay and quirky, yet detailed visuals, there’s no lacking in fun, or surprises. Running a banana republic is not what it’s all cracked up to be. Definitely worth buying.